Returning To The Playing Field- A Coaches Resource

Coaches Resource

How to help our athletes return to the playing field- safely!

The take-away from this: to remind coaches that getting back into “sport” shape is a gradual buildup and requires a period of recovery in between training sessions.

More Sports & Participation Numbers

Due to warmer weather, lower number of cases, more available vaccines, we will (hopefully) see:

  • More teams returning to the playing field
  • More athletes retuning to play (increase in participation)

Why does this matter…

COVID Impacts on Physical Activity

  • COVID-19 created restrictions such as the closure of schools and parks, cancellation of sports and activity classes.
  • This prevented many individuals from achieving their recommended levels of physical activity (PA).
  • Many of our athletes might be included in that group for the past year+-

Being sedentary can lead to many health risks…

** Learn more about the impacts of COVID on our fitness and how to combat them at our Healthy Athlete Webinar on April 24th 10-11am.

Returning to Sports

  • Its imperative that our athletes return to playing their sport (for their overall health and enjoyment) HOWEVER, we need to make sure they are doing it SAFELY.
  • Returning to a sport (exercising too much too quickly) can cause injuries to our athletes.

Common Injuries

There are a variety of common sports injuries that range in severity from minor to major.

Below is a list of just a few injuries that can occur when someone rushed back to sport/exercising:

  • Blisters
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Fractured or Broken Bones
  • Heat Illness
  • Dehydration
  • Overuse injuries

Injury Prevention

Although sometimes injuries are unavoidable, much can be done to decrease an athlete’s risk of sport-related injury:

  • Proper sports training,
  • Physical conditioning,
  • Living a healthy/active lifestyle

These can help athletes to stay injury free so that they can perform optimally.

Coaches Role-

Here are some tips for coaches before, at the beginning and during season to get our athletes back into shape!

Before the season!

  • Encourage athletes to participate in activity NOW before they return!
    • Its as simple as walking every day- Have them join a local walking club!
    • They can also bike, hike, run, and do at home workouts (using our fitness dashboard, Fit 5 or At home Fitness Challenge), or even practice their sport in the backyard or at a park
  • Holding a virtual meeting with your team anyways?
    • Include a fitness aspect- even if that is just talking about what they did THAT week to stay active and prepare for their sport
    • Make a challenge out of it to see who can move everyday

At the beginning of the season!

  • Start the “season” early
    • Use the first few weeks to get everyone back into shape
    • Pre- season walking club or fitness club- offer yoga and other light exercises
  • Take it slow
    • (Especially if none of these above options can be done!)
    • Remind athletes to take it slow and to pace themselves- They will be eager to start where they left off pre-COVID
    • Provide plenty of water breaks
    • Add longer breaks in between activity/ drills
    • Gradually increase activity level
      • Modify drills and or scrimmages
        • Ex. Flag football: create a field smaller
      • Modify event/ activity
        • Ex. Track: walk the 100M or jog 50M walk 50M

During Season!

  • Remind them about form!
    • Yes sport form! Whether its how to hit a softball, swimming techniques, or running form, its been awhile since some athletes have played! Plus form is the first thing to go when we get tired!
  • Add Conditioning
    • Add some exercises into the practice routine (starting slow/ with low intensity exercises)
  • Encourage them to be active outside of practice
    • Its important for the body to rest but overtime they can and should gradually build up the days they are being active.
    • What they could do: Have them do a short walk (even around the back yard/house) to get some blood flowing to the muscles followed by some light stretching!
  • Encourage balanced nutrition
    • to ensure athletes get nutrients that help maintain a healthy weight, reduce strain on joints, prevent cramping/ dehydration and aid performance and recovery.
  • Incorporate proper warm-up and cool-down
    • Warm-ups should include aerobic activities and dynamic stretching (stretching while moving). Evidence shows that static stretching (stationary stretching) decreases performance and increases risk of injuries.
    • Cool-downs should gradually decrease the intensity of the activity and set the stage for recovery. This is an ideal time for static stretches.

Resources for Athletes:

Resources for Coaches:

  • https://resources.specialolympics.org/health/fitness/fitness-for-sports-coaches?locale=en