We are hopeful that the long-anticipated return to basketball will shortly be within our sights. Some players will be bursting with excitement getting back to sport seeing friends, others will be nervous, and for those particularly anxious they maybe dreading the return. All of these responses are normal. Some strategies to help encourage a smooth transition back to sport include:
We have been living in the slow lane for months and some of us may have forgotten how chaotic getting ready for training and game days can be. To reduce stress, make sure the uniform is accessible, snacks and drink bottles are prepared, and everything is set up for smooth sailing.
Diet, sleep and exercise are important in preparing for return to sport. Some of us have become accustomed to raiding the fridge and grazing all day. We now need to ensure players have enough food to power them through sport and include protein, fruit and vegetables in your family’s diet.
Good sleep habits improve concentration, mood and even boosts our immune system. Adolescent players should aim for 8-10 hours’ sleep per night and younger players 9-12 hours. To ensure a good night’s sleep, parents and carers need to encourage healthy sleep habits. Setting bedtime routines or set sleep reminders on the phone can help.
Encourage your family to exercise, let them choose the activity and the intensity. Walking the family dog will work wonders. Exercise improves your mood by releasing endorphins (the feel-good chemicals in your body), thereby improving mental health and sleep.
Mindfulness and gratitude has been proven to improve mental health. Everyone loves a free app and there are lots of these available. Children often resist mindfulness; however, it is worth giving it a try and they have nothing to lose. When children feel anxious or worried, they often have negative thoughts ruminating (playing on a continuous loop) through their head. Unfortunately, it’s the negative thoughts, self-doubt and the catastrophic thoughts that do this, using apps like smiling minds will help stop this constant chatter.
Another great strategy to try is practising gratitude or looking for the positives in every day. This doesn’t have to be anything amazing; it could be appreciating a hot milo you enjoyed or a laugh with a family or friend. Recording these moments in a diary or on an app. ‘3 Good Things’ is a free app available or families might like to buy the Resilience Project app which combines the gratitude and mindfulness in the same wellbeing app. By focusing and reflecting on the good things at the end of the day, it has the benefit of the individual focusing on the positives as opposed to negatives.
Many of us may be particularly worried about the Covid-19 pandemic and whether it is safe return to basketball. Try to keep Covid-19 worry in check - basketball is safe to return to, and the Westgate Basketball Association and staff are working hard to ensure that all appropriate protocols are in place to keep everyone safe.
The situation is constantly being monitored by the Chief Medical Officer and the Australian and Victorian Governments. All sports, and the safety of players, coaches, spectators and referees, are constantly being reviewed and updated.
Encourage family members to adhere to social distancing. The Westgate Basketball Association and Basketball Victoria have strict guidelines in place and hand sanitiser will be readily available at stadiums. Everyone is working hard to maintain everyone’s safety in stadiums and during play.
Whilst the Covid-19 Pandemic has been devastating to watch overseas, it is important we focus on Australia’s success in managing Covid-19. Social distancing is working, and we must continue to follow the current Chief Medical Officers advice.
If you or your child is anxious about catching Covid-19 have a discussion about the recommendations in the noted in this newsletter and how this limits the risk. All individuals can take steps to try and prevent Covid-19.
Teenagers have enquiring minds and it will not satisfy them saying they will be safe because you said so - use evidence to reassure your teen. Talk to them about how very few teens in Australia have caught Covid-19, and those that have had a mild illness or been asymptomatic (a carrier with no symptoms).
Signs of Anxiety
Some players may feel apprehensive returning to basketball, this is common after a long break from any sport. Allow your child to share their concerns, when having these conversations, it can help to remember these tips:
Some worries might include:
All of these concerns can be addressed with reassurance and practical advice. Some players may have lost motivation to practice during the break, they may now feel anxious about their skill level, reassure them the coaches can be contacted about this and they will help get you back to your previous standard. Children and particularly adolescents often feel insecure with peer friendships and fear rejection, try reassuring them that if they haven’t forgotten their teammates, their team won’t have forgotten them. If you child is anxious help them break it down into manageable chunks or prioritise what they need to do. Reassure players. Coaches are available to help them. Coaches and volunteers at Westgate Basketball are experienced problem solvers, so let your child know they can access help from the Association.
An excellent resource for parents/guardians of primary and secondary school aged children is http://www.parentingstrategies.net/depression/
This is guide for managing anxiety and depression. This is really worth reading.
If you need parenting support whilst you support your child’s mental health contact
Provides fact sheets, blogs and courses for parents and youth 12-25 years. Family clinicians available. Ph: 1800 650 890.
Kids Helpline supports 5-25 yrs Ph: 1800 551 800 https://kidshelpline.com.au .
If your child is refusing to return to basketball or, is suddenly indicating they do not want to return to sport, take the time talk to your child about what is worrying them, what do they fear? Ask yourself is this unusual? Are there any signs you child is feeling anxious? If your child wants to return to sport, but feels they can’t due to fear or anxiety, this is upsetting for everyone. Your child may feel upset they are missing out on the fun; however, they may need some help in overcoming these obstacles.
Facing our fears can help then go away
Our fears do not go away without addressing what we are fearful or anxious about. Unfortunately, avoidance further compounds the anxiety, making it a vicious cycle. If your child is refusing to return to sport, this can be a stressful period, it is not due to anyone’s fault, blame or feelings of guilt will not resolve this issue.
Some key strategies include:
Westgate Basketball Association is passionate about players enjoying their basketball. We appreciate all players and families have had a long break from training and games. Coaches will be focusing on fun, reducing return to court nerves and sportsmanship. Players are not expected to win every game – the focus is on having fun and enjoying being back on court with their friends. Please reassure your child that this is primary focus on return to basketball.
If your child is showing signs of anxiety or any other mental health concerns, it is important you access mental health services for support. GP’s are a great starting point for a mental health care plan and to chat about child’s wellbeing. GP’s are able to provide referrals to services.
Whilst waiting for mental health treatment it can feel isolating and carers can find themselves extremely stressed. Free online programs are available to address anxiety. They provide assistance to your child and will give you tips to manage anxiety. These will not replace professional intervention; however, they can assist in the interim.
Anxiety Prevention Programs
Brave is an evidence-based program for children, teenagers and parents. This involves cognitive behavioural therapy for the prevention of anxiety. It can be completed on its own or with the support of an online therapist.
Turn around anxiety is an American program which is available online (please note prices are in US dollars). This is for younger children 6-12 years.
For students over the age of 16 years Mood Gym is an option.