South Africa will be on lockdown from midnight tonight, which means no more training for any Premier Soccer League players. Soccer Laduma got some expert advice on how they can cope with being at home.
Both the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship are now suspended indefinitely as the country continues to try and deal with the Coronavirus outbreak that is causing havoc across the globe, with the nationwide lockdown set to go on until April 16.
The Siya crew got in contact with sport psychologist, Daniel Abrahams, to dissect the process that he recommends to footballers and coaches that are currently in isolation following the shutdown of their various clubs, and how the break in the league can affect league leaders like Kaizer Chiefs.
Abrahams, who has worked all over the world with players such as Yannick Bolasie, highlighted the issues for clubs in this period of uncertainty, telling the crew, “Liverpool in England are a bit of an exception because they’re so far ahead, so their problem is about whether the English Premier League will be cancelled – their players are certainly going to be thinking that.
“But where leagues are tight, like in South Africa, momentum that had been built up can now be lost. It’s dependent on the narrative that emerges during this period of not playing, of rest, because we don’t know if it’s going to be a couple of months or for the rest of 2020 to be frank.
“If I was the head coach, the number one concern is about the health of yourself, your family, your players and the family of your players – that is the number one thing. But from a performance perspective, I’d be certainly trying to stay in contact with players as much as possible – from a welfare perspective but also in terms of looking towards completing the season, and making sure those narratives are as positive and specific as possible with players focusing on what they can control.
“I think those three words are very important: positive, specific and control. What I mean by positive is not punching the air and saying everything is ok, I mean just focusing on how you want to go about things on the pitch when you play again, and executing things with positive intent. When I say specific, I mean taking time each day to think about your responsibilities in your role when you come back. Lastly, in terms of control, I mean thinking about how you want to play and thinking about the things that you can control in your life every day and when you come back.”
And what would be his general tip for players stuck at home with only a personal training regime to follow and nobody looking over their shoulder?
“That narrative, the daily mental rehearsal, that visualisation is really important,” he explains. “And can accompany any kind of fitness regime that you want your players to do as well.
“On the other side of things, these days we play so much football that this can be a break, and a rest, so I would say taking a proportion of time to take a break and take your mind away from the game can be useful – but then there’s got to be a time that you get back down to it.”