Dr. Andrew Yellen, 72, is in his 36th year as a sports psychologist based in Granada Hills after spending 10 years as a football coach at Van Nuys Grant from 1974 to 1984.
At a time when sports competitions have been interrupted at all levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing policies are in place, the level of stress is increasing in many families. If anyone can offer advice, it’s Yellen, who took the time to make a Zoom call from his office to answer a few questions.
In this month of social distancing, closed schools and no sports competitions, what are your recommendations for adolescent athletes and stressed parents?
“Parents need to understand that they are not going to come in and tell their children what to do. The athletes will back off. You have to give them space. They must understand that it is not their responsibility to be with their children at all times of the day. Should there be a calendar? Yes. Any disruption or difficulty in family dynamics is exacerbated. Families that had no problems before tended to function well and families that had problems before, oh boy. “
For parents worried about their children, is there a recommendation to find a new distraction other than sports?
“You must have more than one interest. It makes no difference. It is an opportunity to pursue a new task that they have started or to start something new. Who the hell knows how long we’re going to stay together? What could you learn in 20, 30 hours? Play the guitar, play the piano. People make funny movies. People have disguised dogs. You have to go through this with a certain degree of humor. “
Usually, sport is what we turn to when we want to be positively distracted. Is there anything you can compare this sports suspension to?
“I think it’s unprecedented. I don’t think anyone can point the finger. It’s a defining moment. The question is what will happen next. “
How should everyone prepare for the return of day sports?
“Here’s what I said to a few athletes. We’ll find out who’s really prepared. You’re going to see people who are disciplined. If you’re a coach, you want to know who takes these things seriously. There are a ton of things that you can do to stay in shape. You can call it a rehab because that’s really what’s going to happen. The more they let them slide, the longer it will take to come back and the more difficult it will be. you let go, the starting point is lower and lower. What you will see is that many children do not have the self-discipline to push on their own, which is why they need of a good trainer to push them. Should they go overboard, do three or four hours a day? No. They will run out because we don’t know how long it will last. “
How do you stay emotionally healthy without sport?
“You can become as silly as you want. Invent a sport. Lounge baseball. Come with something. Do something new. The reality is that if it is on land or on land, it will not be viable because of social isolation. This puts us in a situation we really need to think about. Two guys were training to throw 20 yards apart. But they were touching baseball. Whether it is to compete or to compete, that is what we do as an athlete. When you live and breathe sports, it makes things extremely difficult. There is no easy answer to all of this because we have not experienced it. “
What is your recommendation to coaches?
“Gather all of your team members on Zoom and perform an exercise. Everyone has a smartphone or a computer. Perform exercises and do it together. The coach can see who is on the call. It’s the beauty of team sports. What are the lessons learned? You go through things as a team. Connect as a team. Do it like virtual team training. “