Dr. Cristina Fink  |  ECNL Mental Performance Advisor  |  October 22, 2020

Throughout the pandemic, rules about sports have varied by state, county, and school district. Regardless, the meaning and impact of teams remain the same.  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been told to follow social distancing rules. However, it is important to remember that this refers to physical distance – not social distance. In this trying time, we are reminded of how important our relationships are, and how being a part of a team can keep us connected and give us a sense of community. 

Teams allow us to have a sense of belonging, and they give us a place to socialize, set goals, work together, and share passions and dreams. In this unique time, it is important to remember that there are various ways in which you can keep growing as a player and a team.

The following are four areas through which you can better yourself as a player.  They are recognized as key factors for maintaining your motivation. (Ryan & Deci, 2018).

  • Autonomy:  Seek out information, make decisions, and set personal goals.  Your team is a safe place, where mistakes are viewed as part of growth and improvement.  No one learned to walk without falling a few times!  Leaders in any area are constantly setting personal goals to push themselves to be better.  Share your ideas with teammates and coaches so that you can keep each other on track. 
  • Competence: Keep using this time to hone your individual skills. Take time to work on mastering skills individually and in small groups to bring back to the whole group. Know your strengths and weaknesses and explore how you can use your talents to help and support each other. Make sure you are challenging each other to improve.
  • Relatedness: As a team, you share values, goals, interests, and friendships.  You are a community on and off the field.  Reach out beyond the pitch.  Cheering for one another and supporting each other may start on the field but can easily continue outside.  
  • Purpose:  Understand what excites you, what you care about, what your teammates care about, and the overall goal of the team.  Make sure you are working on everything you need to stay connected and informed and make an effort to connect with your teammates and coaches about what creates meaning for both you and your team.

Regardless of the physical distance we need to maintain, take advantage of this time to reflect, to grow, and to strengthen yourself, knowing that you are part of a team and a community that is better together. This year has impacted sports in many ways, but one of its most enduring effects is the way in which it has shown how important a community of players is to each of us.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2018). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York: The Guilford Press.

Dr. Cristina Fink