02 Apr The Complete Youth Athlete Guide For Quarantine Living
You’re stuck inside.
You’ve watched every series on Netflix.
You’ve read every book on your shelf.
You’ve made one hundred Tik Tok videos.
You’ve done your chores for the next six months.
Congratulations! You’re crushing the quarantine life. Being at home has its way of forcing you to get things done you would’ve never prioritized before.
With that said, before I dive into hardcore training and how you should be pushing the limits in an off-season fitness program for a safer return to play, let me ask you this: what do you need right now?
What do you need?
Is it some chill time so you can reboot your nervous system?
Is it stillness so you can reflect?
Is it time with loved ones so you can reconnect?
After all, you’re only in month one of at-home living. It’s okay to want to relax, sit in silence, be with friends and family, and take a break from the world.
And it’s also okay to want to keep busy, be productive, get training, and improve your strength, speed and conditioning.
I want to outline this piece for all of you.
For those who need to chill as much as my cat.
For those who need to go hard as me.
And for those of you who need something in between.
Without further ado, let’s dive into what everyone needs and how to approach.
Yes, let’s do this.
Quarantine Living Need #1: Chill and Reflect
So you need time, space, and reflection?
There’s no need to feel pressured to do that Instagram Influencer’s 100 burpee, 100 squat, 100 jump, 100 push-up workout right now.
Now’s not the time to cause more stress to the body if you’re stressed already.
And now’s not the time for a carbon copy of a workout that every social media celebrity is posting.
So for those of you who are going through feelings of fear, sadness, and worry, the last thing you need to do is an intense work out.
With that said, here are a few actionable items for those of you who need to regroup:
1. Light movement.
Not all of you can handle a crazy workout or program now. And that is okay.
As long as you keep moving, enjoying nature, going for walks, or performing light stretching, you’ll still be able to reap the healing benefits of movement, as well as calm your minds.
Even if you stop pushing hard, never stop moving lightly.
Holding yourself up against bodyweight, while focusing on your breath, is soothing as well as invigorating for your body, mind and spirit.
2. Strength, Speed and Conditioning (Here And There)
Some of you aren’t ready for a transformational strength and conditioning program that involves tracking progress, doing every workout consistently, and checking in with your coach weekly.
So enter: a gradual intro into a strength and conditioning routine.
Again, returning back to movement, it’s better than nothing to perform at-home workouts your team coach has sent. Or, workouts you seen on Instagram or Twitter.
The more movement, the better.
This could mean getting in 1,000 bear crawls throughout the course of the day.
Or getting in a handful of monkey bar pull-ups.
Or sprint work with various starts:
Even if it’s not a structured, periodized program like my remote training, it’s best to gradually sprinkle in some degree of strength, speed and conditioning training for the benefit of your mind and body.
HERE is an excellent and affordable resource that includes a private library of speed, strength, agility and flexibility drills for youth soccer athletes to do at home. It is a kid-friendly book that is awesome to dive into during this long time off.
Or, you can get an idea of a free sample workout template HERE.
Of course, I laud a strength, speed and conditioning routine with a professional during this time, so kids truly improve speed, strength and conditioning, but start small.
Even if it is doing bodyweight movements that work on coordination, stability, and balance, you are on a great track.
Here are a few to try:
These movements are great for the younger ages, especially in a play format as competition against siblings or parents. Too, the older kids benefit from total body movements like crawling, climbing, hanging, and crab walking, and balancing.
For the older kids, once you’ve done these for a while, then it’s time to add in the layers (more intensity, more progressions, more sport specific conditioning) so return to play is smoother AND safer.
3. Read or listen to a book
Now that school has waned for most of you, read a book. Like actually one you enjoy.
Not a textbook. Not an assigned book. A book that interests you.
Moreover, a book that expands your mind, improves your perspective, and forces you to ponder life, as well as your purpose.
Here are my top book recommendations now:
My friend and amazing youth soccer coach to female athletes, Shay, wrote this book to ensure female athletes stepped onto the field with confidence and tenacity.
This is for any girl who doubts her ability, overthinks in games, and is afraid to make mistakes.
Read. This. Book.
Viktor Frankl discusses his experience as a prisoner in a concentration camp during World War II, and how he found was able to combat mental suffering, essentially arguing, it’s meaningless. This is a great book for anyone who is intrigued by the power of the mind and perspective.
Author Ryan Holiday amazes me with his ability to weave Stoicism into modern day life. For anyone who is struggling with stillness and quiet right now, this book sheds light on why we need it, and how our greatest ideas and versions of ourselves are born in solitude.
This an excellent book for people who have a hard time processing failure and the emotions and consequences that come along. Author Brene Brown encourages people to unpack why something hasn’t worked out in our favor, and to analyze ourselves so we can pivot in a strong direction.
For any athlete who wants to improve their mental game, this is a must read. From concentration, to confidence, to pre-competition visualization and affirmation routines, this book is beneficial for anyone looking to better get into the “zone” when they compete.
4. Alone time and other shenanigans
Maybe you just need to be alone. Maybe you just need to sit with yourself. Maybe you just need to be with your thoughts. Maybe you just need time to pursue creative hobbies outside of sport.
Now is an opportune time to be by yourself.
Rarely, do you get to escape the world of distraction, obligation, homework, and so much more.
Be passionate about a newfound hobby.
Enjoy you and your passions for once.
Quarantine Living Need #2: Routine and Program
Okay. So now you’ve had time to chill. Or maybe you didn’t chill and you wanted to hit the ground running with a strength and conditioning program right out the gates.
Of course, I’ll be the first to preach routine and doing something that keeps you productive, busy, and fulfilled during this time.
Most of you are athletes. You thrive on routine. You thrive on working toward something. You thrive on competition. You thrive on tracking your personal progress.
To that end, a structured strength and conditioning plan is fabulous, too.
At some point, your motivation to do bodyweight workouts clustered together will wane.
At some point, your ability to stick to a confusing Word Doc of workouts will decline.
At some point, you’ll need more organization, accountability, community, and coaching through virtual training.
So if this is you, I urge you to see if your local strength and conditioning coach offers online training services. <– likely they do, and they’re legit.
The good news is, online training is tremendously effective, given the coach ensures you check-in weekly, stays in touch with you, and tracks your progress consistently.
Namely, ensures you’re turning into a blistering, speedy beast.
Looking at the two images above, taken three weeks apart, it’s noticeable my female athlete immensely improved her 20-yard acceleration time.
In fact, we’re tracking speed times ALL. THE. TIME.
Admittedly, I’m OCD about this and need to track improvements regularly.
With that said, if you want to get better and you value your speed and strength gains, then meticulous programming and tracking by your coach is for you.
Or, if you want to condition like a beast, and progress from General to Specific conditioning, then professional coaching is for you.
In fact, I recommend it after everyone has had time to chill and adjust to the chaotic times of COVID-19 quarantine.
But eventually, be ready for that 80 or 90 minute match when it returns.
Don’t pull a hamstring. Don’t blow a knee. Don’t be slow. Don’t be de-conditioned.
But also, be the most confident on the field. Be the fastest. Be the strongest. Be the hardest working.
So before I exit stage right, I’ll leave you with these questions:
1. What do you need in order to improve the physical components of your game (autonomy, accountability, engaging coaching)?
2. How important is it for you to improve fitness during these next several months off (1=not important, 5=very important)?
3. What motivates you (random cluster of workouts, spreadsheets of workouts from coach, an easy-to-use phone with exercise videos, community, competition, check-ins, detailed coaching, progress tracking, specific sets and reps, and done-for-you exercise order without having to think)?
4. What are your goals now (to move, maintain, or improve)?
I hope this helps.
Again, not everyone is ready for a program and high level coaching.
But this begs the question, what do you need to be prepared for when sports start up again?
What do you need to improve acceleration, sprint mechanics, and high intensity conditioning?
Doing your own thing and going through the motions?
Or tracking progress, high level coaching and working out consistently?
Deeply ask yourself the questions above and figure out a plan to come back at your best and most empowered.
To become a remote athlete, level up your performance, and join my amazing community of hard working and kind soccer players, book a 15-minute call HERE.