5 simple steps to get back to playing sport after the lockdown

There are some simple ways to motivate yourself to get active again (photo: Shutterstock)There are some simple ways to motivate yourself to get active again (photo: Shutterstock)
There are some simple ways to motivate yourself to get active again (photo: Shutterstock)

By Kay Woodburn

Whether you are a world champion in your sport, a weekend warrior or you are committed to health and fitness, lockdown has taken us all away from what we had come to love: a routine and structure that worked.

As lockdown eases and we are preparing to get back to it, how do you make the psychological shift to get back to performing as you once did, and beyond?

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It only takes 100 days to form new habits so if you have left the gym for the sofa, the trackfor a Netflix marathon and your kale smoothie for gin and a slice, it’s likely those mind gremlins seized the opportunity to join you. You know the ones I mean, right?

The nagging voice in your head telling you you’re not good enough to compete anymore, orwhat’s the point anyway as the season's nearly over. Yet your sport is part of who you are,should you listen to them? Are they telling the truth?

Here are 5 steps to silence the gremlins and bring yourself back into action:

Managing your state

If you change your state you can change your behaviour and therefore the outcome you want. When we are in ‘a’ right state instead of ‘the’ right state problems tend to feel bigger than they really are. Take a deep breath in for a count of four, hold for a count of four and then breathe slowly out through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this three times and notice the change in how you feel.

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Develop a strong sense of purpose

When we have an extended time for reflection our purpose can change. That’s okay and it’s important to acknowledge that our goals and aspirations may now have shifted. Take some time to explore why you do what you do and what’s important to you now. Your goal could have changed to ‘get back fit’.

Stop comparing yourself to others

There is no positive value in comparing yourself to others, because you are not them and they are not you. Compare yourself to your goal target only. Many athletes make this mistake and by doing so give their competitors the psychological advantage.

Create new habits

Start with realistic goals for where you are currently at and build them up over time. Your subconscious mind only knows what to do if you tell it consciously. So start with a new structure and routine. Within a few weeks your subconscious mind will know the new programme and you’ll start doing it without thinking - just like you did before.


Our minds are super smart yet we hack them all the time with negative thoughts like a virus spreading through a computer. Visualisation is a great mind hack for the good. Find a space, take a few deep breaths, allow your eyes to close and see the context in which you want to perform at your best.

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Visualise yourself doing that behaviour, in the place, with the people around you and the sounds you would hear. Doing this over and over a number of times tricks the mind into thinking it has already performed and achieved the goal. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between what’s a memory and what you have actually created - even an MRI scanner wouldn’t know the difference.

Kay Woodburn is an award-winning, high-challenge neuro-linguistic programming mind-set coach. She works with competitive athletes, leaders and entrepreneurs to master their mind-set. This unique method is the practice of coding how people organise their thinking, feelings, language and behaviour to produce the results they do. It’s a powerful change methodology to model the behaviour you want to achieve the results you want.

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