We are back together and it’s weird and it’s great and it’s a bit stressful. It’s a whole range of things we haven’t really experienced before, but it’s just great to be getting back to sport!

These months of lockdown and restrictions have impacted on everyone and, out of sight, people will have changed.  They may not be mentally and even physically, where they were in February this year.  You’ll need understanding, and you will need to re-set your expectations and enlarge your focus to care for their mental health as well as physical fitness.

Let’s look at what you need to be aware of and what you need to do as you work to put your club back together again.

  1. People will be arriving back in different states of mind as they may have been ill, suffered from the isolation, been victims of family violence, experienced anxiety and might have leaned on drugs and alcohol.
  2. Not everyone will be able to pick up where they left off.  This may be because they aren’t fit or because they struggle to summon the commitment.
  3. Continue to ask after people.  I recommend you ask people how they are going and then after they’ve given you an “okay” or something similar say “No, how are you really going?” and listen to their response.  Keep following up in a non-pressuring way, those people who haven’t returned to your club.  It’s always worth reaching out and you may get someone back into the fold.
  4. Tell people that you care about them and are available to chat.
  5. Set appropriate goals / expectations.  There’s aspirational and there’s realistic.  Make your goals a combination of the two, with the footnote that you don’t know how the season will go – it may be stop-start again, and you have no real idea of how your competing teams will perform.
  6. Personally acknowledge and thank people for everything they are doing to help re-build the club.
  7. Allow people to train less often if they want to or need to. Now is not the time to be hard taskmasters.  Yes, wins are important, but as a community sporting team, supporting club members who may be suffering still from shock and anxiety, is equally important as it is the building block for a strong, unified club.
  8. Acknowledge achievements – even minor ones.
  9. Re-define achievement – not just performance targets but look for things that add value to community that you can also acknowledge and reward such as enthusiasm, gratitude, teamwork, selflessness, encouragement.
  10. Plan activities that re-energise and relax people e.g. eating together, a session on relaxation techniques, laughter – whether that’s sitting around telling funny stories or it’s showing a series of funny videos – laughter still is a great medicine.
  11. Spread the load. Put the word out into the local community for help.  People have become more locally focussed during this pandemic and you may find there’s a lot of interest in being a volunteer or supporter.
  12. Set up a Club Well Being Team. This is possibly the most important thing of all and we can help you do it.

At SALT we can train the members of your Club Wellbeing Team.  It’s five online sessions and we will provide your team with the information and skills on how to be really proactive in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of your community.  We do have some funding still available, which means that some clubs won’t have to pay for this training.  Contact SALT to find out more.

Enjoy each other’s company. Enjoy all the strange new challenges as we embark on creating clubs that are healthier than they have ever been in the things that really matter.

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