Sadly, the coronavirus crisis is emerging again, everywhere in the world. For all of us in the sports community, this means that it is not impossible that there will be unplanned pauses during our competitions. But, what to do then?

It is not the best idea to just let your team go and wait for the approval that you can resume your usual activities.

Even though it is hard, we have to keep working.

That is why we created this blog that will tell you all you need to know about running a team during the lockdown and making the best of the situation.

What are we going to talk about?

  • Analyzing aspects of your game
  • Studying the elite and scouting your competition
  • Analyzing individuals and doing 1 on 1 video calls with them
  • Raising the level of psychological preparation
  • Keeping your athletes fit
  • Taking care of your athletes diet

Analyze aspects of your game

Make good use of your newly found time and start deeply analyzing different aspects of your game. Look at your game videos objectively. Analyze strengths and weaknesses. There are many aspects of any sport that can be analyzed and improved. For example, if you are a football coach, you can create a plan and systematically do research on your team in the following areas.

Set pieces – free kicks, corner kicks, throw ins. Get your videos and use a video analyzing tool, such as Once, to draw out your actions and get a visualization of both your offensive and defensive player positioning. You can read more about video analysis and visualization here.

After a while, you will start to see patterns. Good and bad patterns. Noticing them means you are now ready to show them to the team and explain what they are usually doing bad (or good).

Video analysis can help you to find situations in which your team should be more coordinated. For example, if you are defending from a counter attack, a team should have some automatic responses to the new situation. Players need to fill in their roles on the pitch, and their teammates should be confident that they can trust them.

Now, when you have built a knowledge base, you are ready to fix existing problems and start to build improvements for the future. Build a plan to work on the areas you want to improve on after you return to the pitch.

Study the elite and scout your competition

This is something coaches always want to work on, but with their busy schedules, often don’t seem to find the time. Well, there is an upside to this whole situation – time just became a lot more available.

So, even though you maybe (probably) don’t have the resources elite clubs do, you can still learn from them. Take some time to check various videos of the top athletes and organizations in your sport and try to notice what they are doing differently. Try to find their competitive edge and see if there are some fragments of their game that you can apply to yourself. For example, if you like the way a top flight football club is doing corner kicks, get more videos of their actions on the same place and analyse them. Video analysis tools such as Once Pro can be your ally and help you notice patterns that you can try to replicate with your team after the competition comes back to action.

Also, the combination of using a video analysis tool and having enough time can give you a perfect opportunity to study your competitors. Analyse the game of your rivals and get ready for the rest of the season. Do not hesitate to do this, because they are probably doing this too! Understanding of a small change that you need to make or finding a specific weakness can be a game changer for your whole season.

Analyze individuals and do 1 on 1 video calls with them

There are some athletes in your team that are playing their best. That’s great. But, in almost every team, there are players that are having problems bringing their A game. Now is the time to give them more attention. It is in your best interest to have a team of players consisting of the best versions of themselves. Now is the perfect opportunity to dive into the research of why an individual is underperforming, or just not developing.

You can read more about some of the well known benefits of the connection between video analysis and individual approach here.

Create a plan for yourself. Prioritize – which player of your team needs individual analysis the most? When you are satisfied with your findings, move on to the next one. Individual video analysis can help you notice stuff that are usually hard to track – an athlete’s attitude, their personal positioning, how hard they work, how they react to tense situations, do they have some bad habits or technical problems?

After you get all the information about a team member you need, you can start creating a personal plan for their development. Start with compiling a file with the data and the videos and share it with the player. A tool like Once can help you do the analysis and the exporting and the sorting of the information. Do a 1 on 1 video call with the player and explain what you saw – this is the first step of a new stage in their development, and a leap towards your team goals.

Raise the level of psychological preparation

A lockdown is an uncertainty. You, and all of your team members, can’t know when everything is going to return to normal, or at least to the “new normal”, and this can be quite stressful. A big challenge comes up – how to keep everybody motivated and positive about the future?

Well, communication is key. Keep in touch with the rest of your team regularly, send them training schedules and monitor their progress. Talk to them. Athletes need their usual routine even when the competition is off, so try to create a routine for them. It should have the following elements:

  • physical training time – athletes need to stay fit and disciplined
  • technical-training drills – precision of movements and self-corrections, stuff you can do in front of a mirror or a camera and check out your own progress
  • study time – your team members need to use a part of their time to watch the analysis you created and learn from them
  • quality sleep time – sleep is extremely important for both physical and mental well-being
  • family, friends and team members time – make sure your athletes are using the benefits of modern technology to keep in touch with their friends, families and team members

You can arrange video calls as team meetings to see how everyone is doing. Also, maybe try to find some online games that you can play together to be entertained and keep the team spirit at a high level.

Keep your athletes fit

A big obstacle of the lockdown is the fact that it makes it incredibly hard to keep your team fitness at optimal levels. Even though you can’t replicate the same exercises at home without using a gym, you can find other exercises and physical activities that will replace them.

Keeping fit is not just a matter of being ready to return to the competition, it is also about avoiding injuries when returning to regular activities. For example, when the NFL in the USA had a player lockout in 2011, players weren’t allowed to train at team facilities, see team doctors or communicate with their coaches for 18 weeks. When they returned to play, there were 12 Achilles tendon ruptures in just one month – and 10 of those were in the first 12 days. The average is five ruptures a year.

To avoid this, you need to be ready to gradually raise the exercise level from low to high intensity, and to do this, you will need a fit team when you return to the pitch. Research shows that 2-4 weeks of not training at all can cause a significant loss of performance.

The solution? Tell your players to run outside. To improvise home versions of exercises they do at the gym. Google more information about exercising at home and create a plan. Send this to your team and monitor their progress. You can’t work out instead of them, but you can provide guidelines for them.

Take care of your athletes diet

A lockdown means a lot of home time. A lot of free time. A lot of lazy couch screen time. This can not only take away your fitness abilities, but also create a bunch of newly found bad eating habits. We all know how hard it is to stay away from food while binge watching TV shows.

But, we are still athletes. This means that we do not have the luxury of eating junk food without control. To be able to return to your normal activities swiftly when the time comes, you need to keep your lockdown diet under control too. This is not a break, a vacation. Your team members shouldn’t be increasing their weight and changing their food habits. It is very hard to achieve the kind of exercise-diet balance an athlete needs, but that balance is also fragile. If it falls apart, before you realise, your team is not fit anymore.

This is the reason you need to create a diet plan for your team and try and make sure everyone is following it. There are specifics of a diet in different sports, so do your research. There are also some things that are in common for everyone – the diet needs to have lots of protein and vegetables, to be diversified, low fat and healthy. To make sure everyone is following your instructions, create a file in which your team members can write in their weight daily.

In spite of everything, there could also be some positive effects of a lockdown. This way athletes can fully recover from all stresses or injuries. This, and following our lockdown sports team management guide, can help you get good results and to thrive when the competition resumes.

If you are reading this and you haven’t tried video analysis yet, or you aren’t satisfied with the results, visit www.once.de. Download a free trial of Once Video Analyzer PRO! Once is a simple-to-use tool for professional video analysis with TV like graphics. You can get a video tutorial free-of-charge as well. Simply contact us at info@once.de to schedule a call so we can show you all of the program features and answer any questions you may have.