Chiefs aware being at locked down at home can adversely affect players' mentally

Kaizer Chiefs players during a training session at Naturena in Johannesburg.
Kaizer Chiefs players during a training session at Naturena in Johannesburg.

Kaizer Chiefs’ technical team are encouraging their players to remain as connected as they can via technology to maintain team camaraderie for the Absa Premiership leaders‚ and keep up their mental spirits.

Chiefs’ head of sports science Jarred Marsh admitted that the three-week national lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa is something never before experienced for any team chasing a PSL title.

He said players are used to being highly social‚ and to a routine of training every day‚ so being at locked down at home can adversely affect a footballer mentally.

Chiefs are using internet applications like to hold joint yoga sessions‚ or one-on-ones between trainers and players‚ WhatsApp for communication and banter‚ and for socialising.

“I think globally there’s a lot of uncertainty with the path ahead – especially the next few weeks and months‚” Marsh said.

“Some of us thrive in certain situations and others don’t. The mental aspect‚ for me‚ is as important as the physical one.

“Players are used to going to training in the mornings. They’ve got a set routine‚ and obviously a routine after training. With that breaking down I think it’s important for us to try and maintain a routine.

“We almost have synced our video sessions to be the same time as we would have trained at 9am‚ to give the guys that element of‚ ‘I’m used to this‚ I know what it feels like’. And when training resumes you still know what it feels like.

“People adapt quite quickly and can embrace change. But I think the social element is something we are trying to drive towards.

“Whether it’s a yoga session with the guys‚ or individual sessions with them‚ I think it’s important to maintain that team outlook‚ and keep the guys motivated.”

Marsh said internet video communication is vital to maintaining spirits.

“Everybody has adapted to a certain way of using social media at this point‚” he said.

“We have encouraged the guys to use Zoom from a team training or interaction perspective. We do have a WhatsApp group to keep up to date with what’s happening‚ and share a bit of banter.

“We have a few challenges we are doing – getting the guys to send what they’re having for lunch or dinner‚ just to try and create that camaraderie.

“Another app we’re using is House Party‚ just to get the guys to be social. And we’ve asked the guys to speak to our medical team if they are struggling.

“So I think everybody is at certain points struggling with the lack of routine and social interaction that we are all used to.

“But I think more or less everybody can see a light at the end of the tunnel that this won’t last forever.”

Chiefs (48 points from 22 games) had a four point lead over defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns (44 from 21) at the top of the Premiership when league matches were suspended on March 16.