Across Canada, young athletes, parents and coaches have had to adjust to the new normal of sport. While some sports have continued with new safety requirements, others have been postponed until next season or beyond. In spite of these changes, youth can continue to be involved in sport in new, creative ways. Below are some tips to support the young athletes in your life to continue to stay engaged in sport throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Staying Connected to the Team
Regular video calls with coaches and teammates to train together or just chat can help young athletes feel connected to their team (Graham, 2020). Staying connected with their teammates can help youth to maintain the sense of community gained from participating in sport. Coaches can continue to support their athletes from afar by helping to provide training tips, encouraging athletes to stay active and practice, and to provide social support and ongoing connection to sport.
Continue to Practice
Youth should continue to practice from home regularly. Coaches can connect with young athletes to help them create regular practice routines that include a mix of technical drills and physical training (Graham, 2020). Some sport-specific examples of this can include:
- Soccer: Foot speed and dribbling drills such as toe taps, side touches, rollovers and inside-out dribbling
- Basketball: Dribbling and ball-handling skills such as straight-arm finger taps, wraps around head/ankles/waist/legs, crossover dribble and double ball dribbling
- Dance: Stretching and maintaining skills such as pre-practice stretches, floor barre exercises, or watching online dance classes (Myrvik, 2020)
- For more ideas, check out the Play From Home Resource Hub from Jumpstart Canada and ParticipACTION
As we move into the winter months, practice space may be limited to the indoors. If you have space in your home, get creative with your kids and create an indoor practice area (Pearlstein, 2020). If your indoor space is limited, try turning household chores into practice opportunities; for example, “How many lunges can you do while putting your toys away? How high can you jump when you’re dusting?” (Pearlstein, 2020).
Find Creative Ideas Online
From skill-based challenges to virtual ‘passing’ of the ball, puck, etc. to team members, many creative ways to keep young athletes engaged in sport can be found online (Graham, 2020). Some ideas we found include:
- Creating a family ‘grab jar’: write down exercises, such as 20 jumping jacks, 10 burpees, etc. (Pearlstein, 2020). Have each family member pick one exercise from the jar and complete the moves together. Consider creating jars tailored to different sport-specific exercises to mix up your family workouts!
- Find kid-friendly workouts on YouTube, like this Parent and Kid Workout
Encourage Your Kids to Take the Lead
Have your kids take the lead on connecting with teammates, planning practice or training routines, and creating practice spaces. Kids have had to cope with much less freedom and decision-making since the beginning of the pandemic (Graham, 2020). Not only will this help young athletes feel like their voices are being heard, but it may increase the likelihood that they will continue to practice and be active, making their routines into habits (Graham, 2020).
Parents: Cut Yourselves Some Slack
Lastly and most importantly, parents should remember that everyone is doing the best they can given the circumstances. Cut yourselves and your kids some slack if they forget to practice or have a less active day. Focusing on doing what they can and having fun along the way is the best way to find balance and sustainability as we move into the winter months.
Graham, N. (2020, May 14). Three ways to keep kids connected to sports when they can’t play during COVID-19. Folio. Retrieved from https://www.folio.ca/three-ways-to-keep-kids-connected-to-sports-when-they-cant-play-during-covid-19/
Myrvik, M. (2020, April 20). Keeping young athletes active and engaged during COVID-19. Children’s Wisconson. Retrieved from https://childrenswi.org/newshub/stories/covid-19-young-athletes
Pearlstein, J. (2020, Oct 20). How to keep kids active as the weather cools and the pandemic rolls on. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/10/22/kids-activity-covid/