Individual players are rising to the challenges presented by the lockdown.

Wits sports teams have had to overcome challenges presented by different environments and circumstances in a bid to continue training and maintain fitness during the lockdown.

One of the biggest challenges with remote training is access and cost of data. This is a problem as coaches use technology to send workouts and videos of what is required to players, as well as holding online sessions using zoom or other online resources. 

Another concern is about the space and equipment needed for players to train effectively, forcing coaches to create alternative ways within their programmes to ensure everyone is able to do the exercises required of them. 

“We are working the best we can to keep the players fit and healthy, but also acknowledge that there will be a decrease in performance that we will gradually gain once we are allowed to train together again,” Lindle Lombard, the netball team’s strength and conditioning coach, told Wits Vuvuzela.

All students within the different sporting codes have individual requirements and this time is being used by the coaches to assist students with individual need programmes and to ensure that they get the most out of it. 

Kearabetswe Sebothoma, a third-year biological sciences student who plays ladies football says her biggest obstacle is struggling with data. “The problems that come with this, is having no access to engage with the team and coaches.” Nthabeleng Modiko, the head coach of the women’s football team, said they were trying to find solutions for this problem. However, not having a set time for training for now gave players the flexibility of downloading the training in their own time. 

Jacques Durand, the head of strength and conditioning at Wits, says as management, they are aware of this problem. “We are trying to use this time to assist athletes with individual needs to the best of our abilities.” By assisting players on an individual basis, their programmes can be adapted not to use an excessive amount of data.

Nthabeleng Modiko (right) provides fast-paced, intense coaching in April 2017. Photo: File


For that, he said, it is important “to have the core of your programme outcome planned in such a way so that alternatives can be used and still reach the outcome”. As an example, a player that needs to run 100m can accomplish that with a 5m by 20m or a 10m by 10m run, Durand said. 

The coaches have adapted to using everyday tools around the house to overcome the obstacle of the lack of equipment at home. 

Lezaan Jansen van Vuren, a first-team hockey player and third-year BA student, said, “Most of our exercises are body weight exercises, but if we need weights, our conditioning coaches gave us alternatives like a two-litre water bottle.” 

Team sport has a level of social interaction that is no longer possible with the lockdown. “Athletes feed off each other’s energy and it serves as a motivator to lift heavier, run faster and train better,” Durand said.

A netball player, Anja Esterhuizen, currently doing an honours in biokinetics, said, “I do prefer team training as I feel I can compare and push myself myself more.”

When looking at the different programmes within each team, it is important to consider whether the team is currently in their season or training for the next season. Men’s cricket have finished their season and so are in the off season. Head coach Bongani Ntini said, “I find it quite effective for off season, so I guess we are one of the lucky sporting codes [because a lot] can be done working remotely.”

In these different programmes there are players at different points in their training and Wits women’s hockey strength and conditioning coach, Marcel Lamont, is worried about the setbacks this will have for some of her players.

“Remote training is not ideal for first years who are not used to high-performance training,” Lamont said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits player, Danielle Quinn, driving the ball down the centre at a home match against Jeppe St Andrews in August 2019. Photo: Lwazi Maseko