ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The sports world has been crippled globally due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. From pro-athletes to those at local high schools and college, are left to workout and practice from their homes.
Dr. Jarrod Spencer comments on what missing out on these routine workouts and practices in their normal setting do to their mental state.
“Athletes are used to getting a certain amount of release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which is happiness. Dopamine, which is pleasure. Endorphins, natural pain killers. They get those through the grueling workouts. The further up the ladder you go with competition and athletics, the more intense the workouts are. But also the bigger the release of those chemicals are. For many athletes that are home now, they are not getting that same level of sweat – they’re having to make up home gyms, or make up their own workouts in their backyard. But they’re not getting that same drug release, and therefore may find themselves a little more depressed, a little more anxious, a little more moody, irritable, cranky even – and that’s a concern.”
This time at home for these athletes, it’s for more than just perfecting their craft, it’s about finding out who they are when the lights turn off in the gym and on the field.
“…Who are you away from your sport? Who are you without your job, your title? It’s forcing us to come to grips with, ‘who am I? What are my interests? What do I like? What really motivates me?’ So, I really recommend to everybody, especially the athletes, to go for a lot of introspective walks, where you’re out there by yourself and you’re just trying to answer these questions. Beyond my job, beyond sports, beyond academics. Who am I as a person? That’s a real tough inner journey, but it’s incredibly profound and rich when you begin to answer those questions…”
As the sports world has stopped during the coronavirus pandemic, athletes at all levels are dealing with a new way of life, without the ability to play the sport they enjoy. WFMZ Sports Director Dan Moscaritolo spoke one-one-one with Dr. Jarrod Spencer, a sports psychologist and the founder of the Mind Of The Athlete, LLC, in a wide-ranging interview about how athletes can get through these uncertain times. This multi-part series will continue through the week.