Photo Credit: Cricket West Indies
The first obligation of the Sports and Medicine Department, led by Dr. Oba Gulston, is to ensure the safety of all players and staff. Therefore, in the initial stages of the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, they distributed information on the guidelines and advised behaviours in relation to the same. Considering the fact that the protocol differs by country, the unit had to be very careful in collected and disseminating information to persons based on their geographical location. It is important that every CWI team member is adhering to their local restrictions, as some are more intense than others.
Senior Men’s Medical Unit
The medical unit of the senior men’s team is inclusive of Physiotherapist, Denis Byam; Strength & Conditioning (S&C) Coach Ronald Rogers and Massage Therapist; Zephyrinus Nicholas, who is also an S&C by trade and is therefore able to assist extensively. This unit is responsible for the wellbeing of that team specifically.
They have prepared a relevant programme for each player. All suggested workouts can be done individually, as social distancing is being practiced regionwide. Some players do have the ability to visit nearby fields and parks; however, most are doing the necessary without having to leave their homes. Emphasis is being placed on distance running and building fitness within most players, as more recovery time is available than usual.
Denis Byam (Physiotherapist)
As the physiotherapist, I am in constant contact with each player via video call, to ensure that they are effectively getting through their program. It is also an opportunity for them to identify any issues and receive corrective advice. We are focused on creating specified ‘prehab and rehab’ routines, tailored to the athletes’ needs. Ensuring that each and every cricket West Indies contracted player is developing better habits regarding health and fitness, during this period, is of paramount importance to us. This way, they will come out on the other side of this crisis with the foundation necessary to practice and improve on their cricketing skills, once we revert to regular training sessions.
Ronald Rogers (Strength and Conditioning Coach)
As the strength and conditioning coach, I am responsible for altering player programs on a weekly basis, based on results and necessity. The ongoing pandemic has certainly adversely affected the players’ access to appropriate training facilities and equipment. Luckily, we have been able to utilize our technological prowess in ensuring the programs are being effectively administered and to monitor player workload. Generally, the programs are also heavy on balance, stability and alignment, in relation to the execution of cricketing skills. Posture and correct technique is being stressed, in order for players to master the basics and be able to benefit more comprehensively from other exercises being administered.
Zephyrinus Nicholas (Massage Therapist)
As the massage therapist, it is obviously difficult to provide support via my usual means during the ongoing pandemic. However, due to my experience as an S&C, I have been able to quickly transfer my efforts towards assisting in the monitoring of player programs. I am also regarded as a motivator within the team unit and therefore, I make it my responsibility to connect with players semi-regularly. Overall, this situation had led to me becoming more empathetic, compassionate and stronger, along with a greater understand of the word ‘essential’. I am doing my best to ensure everyone comes out of this challenging time, healthy and safe.
Specified training instructional videos have been prepared for players also, so that they are not only getting constant positive reinforcement and correctional advice, but a visual of how the exercises should be done.
Senior Women’s Medical Unit
The sporting world has been at a standstill since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the ones most severely affected have been the athletes who have now gone more than three months with any participation on the field. It is no different for our West Indies Women’s players who had their Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup and T20 Blaze tournaments, as well as a five-match ODI series against South Africa Women postponed. We hear from the physiotherapist, Matthew Parchment; the strength and conditioning coach; Shayne Cooper; as well as the sports psychologist, Amanda Johnson; who have been working with the team to ensure they are at the optimum levels.
Matthew Parchment (Physiotherapist)
With the cancellation of major sporting activities and training because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been working closely with our S&C Shayne Cooper on fitness schedules and programs. This is to ensure that our players are taking advantage of the downtime to take care of old injuries and correct anomalies that they know of. I have been advising them on the importance of using this time to learn about proper nutrition and eat well-balanced diets so that that they come out of this at the best fitness and competition-readiness as we need them to be.
Shayne Cooper (Sport Performance Specialist)
This quarantine period has been very difficult on the world with many populations feeling the residual effects from countries’ shut down. Sport as entity feels the various effects with a main issue being uncertainty. Especially where athletes, coaches and performance coaches are concerned, the uncertainty of a season, tour or championship affects everything from motivation to training plans.
The CWI women team fresh off the early exit from the ICC Women T20 tournament has quite a few physical and technical issues that need addressed. At the end of March, the members of the teams were sent programs to follow for the course of the next two months. These programs address to major components highlighted; strength as well as a focus on high intensity interval training to improve aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Also take into consideration that not every athlete has strength equipment available currently during the lockdown. In an attempt to achieve some essential sport performance goals while battling monotony a variety of programs were provided. Based on the specific needs of the athlete alterations were made to these general programs to work on improving limitations that have been the cause of some injuries (weak, underactive or overactive muscles) or improve upon certain fitness components (speed, power, core strength, etc.).
This down time needs to be seen as advantageous to the progress of each individual and the team as a whole. In the past finding time to go back to basics and rebuild the foundation has proven difficult but now the time to focus on self-improvement on even little intricacies has been supplied in abundance. Understanding that the athletes are at different physical levels it is important to make contact weekly for updates to the program whether it is to progress, regress or maintain. The fast bowlers have a very specific program that was designed for them through this period while the batter sand spin bowlers were given programs that favour and support improvement in each specialty area.
Amanda Johnson (Sport and Exercise Psychology Consultant)
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought major sporting events to a halt, bringing with it an air of uncertainty. Many players are now finding themselves with copious amounts of time on their hands and a vast change in their daily functioning. It is acknowledged that every player will respond to the event differently, however the common feelings that go with dealing with this shift include anxiousness, sadness, general overwhelmingness and feelings of loss, disappointment and lack of control. These feelings can manifest differently making it important for athletes to pay attention to changes in their everyday functioning such as sleeping and eating patterns. Changes in behavioural patterns during this time can almost manifest in increases in irritability. However, even as these reactions will vary by person, it is important to remember that there is no ‘normal’ response.
Because of these differing responses, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ remedy and while the coping skills will vary some of the most essential and effective techniques that can be employed include;
- Maintaining a daily routine: This is a great place to start. Keep your routine simple and try your best to adhere. Have a general time to wake and sleep. This in turn will assist in your sleep cycle and limit sleeping difficulties. In addition, have a standard time to complete your training. In between populate the times with simple activities (1-2) to assist with the boredom feeling and help maintain a sense of control.
- Managing emotions: Activities such as journaling and mindfulness can assist with identifying, rationalizing and managing negative emotions that you may experience.
- Maintain connections: Presently physical social interaction is limited however technology has enabled us to maintain connections with friends and family. This allows us to remain connected and improve feelings of despair and isolation.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Gut health is linked to emotional and mental wellness. What you put into your body is crucial thus ensure that a balanced diet is maintained.
The ambiguity of current times requires patience and kindness to oneself. There is no ‘to-do’ manual ergo it is important to be aware of your thought, emotions, feelings and physical changes or abnormalities. If you begin to feel too overwhelmed, take the time to use the social support available or contact a mental health professional.