Six months into a global pandemic that shut down the world and sports as we know it and we are now slowly starting to get back to “normal”. In the world of sports, some sports are back as if nothing has happened, some are working their way back and some still have no time frame. My questions for you though are two fold: what stage of return are you in and are you ready?

If you look at professional sports, we see a wide range in terms of return to play. The NHL is back to normal except for the fact that they have no fans in the stands, on the other hand of the spectrum, MLB started and has had multiple set backs in return to play. In youth sports, every state is different in terms of what they are doing and what they are choosing to do. I know that in in Maryland for instance you are allowed to have a soccer practice in some parts of the state but you are limited to the number of players allowed to attend practice.

If you have gotten back to playing, are you ready to play? This is a serious question for multiple reasons. On the one hand, are you physically ready to play? Have you been training during the time off? On the other hand, are you mentally ready to play? With the global pandemic, how do you feel about being around others and being out and training?

Regardless of whether or not you have been training and staying in shape during the time off, an individuals mental state has a huge impact on their ability to return to play. If you are not mentally ready to return to play, your performance will show it. You might be more hesitant to enter certain situations or try to avoid areas that might put you in close proximity to other individuals. In doing so you will undoubtedly hinder your ability to perform to your full potential and end up being a hinderance to the team as a whole.

That being said, I do believe that it is of vital importance that teams as a whole respect their teammates and the decisions they make as to whether or not to return to play. Regardless of whether or not your sport has gotten back to normal every individual play must be honest with themselves, their teammates, and their coaches as to what their mental state is. if a player isn’t ready to return for whatever reason the team and coaches should be understanding and accepting of this. If you worry about a players fitness and training provide them with “homework” to ensure that when they do feel comfortable to return they are ready to go.

We have seen many players return to normal in professional sports and we have seen just as many players opt out of playing for their own reasons. The best thing to do is for everyone to do what they can (whether they are playing or not) to help the team in anyway they can. For those that choose not to play their teams must understand that they have opted out for a reason and that they will return when the situation changes for them.

So again, I ask, have you returned to play? If you have, are you ready to play? And for your teammates, are you ready to accept the decisions that your fellow teammates make regarding return to play?