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Maintaining social connections

Covid-19 has resulted in great changes to the rhythm of daily life and in particular to how we maintain social connections and have a sense of belonging.

Feeling connected with others and being part of groups that we perceive to be positive and meaningful is beneficial for our psychological health and wellbeing. At this time, you will need to consider how narrow or wide your social network is in terms of personal and professional relationships, who you want and need to maintain communication with, within and outside sport:

  • Family members

  • Friends

  • Peers in sport

  • Coaching staff and management

The focus of these interactions could be either performance or social or a combination of both. Some strategies that can be used to maintain our connections to others are (A) Identity Mapping:

The identity mapping exercise can help you to understand the group memberships that are meaningful to you. You can create your own identity map by sketching a map of the significant and meaningful groups that you are part of.

Examples of groups could include sports team, leisure groups, friendship groups, family ties and workplace groups. The crucial part is that you believe these groups are important to you. Next, reflect on these groups by considering how you are currently connecting (or not) with them, have you not connected with one for a while? If not, it could be a good time to re-connect. You can also reflect on the level and type of support you give and receive within these groups.

It is important as drivers to consider who you are as a person as well as an athlete (widen sense of self). Gaining a clear understanding of who you are ‘off the pitch’ will enable you to widen your sense of self, gain clarity over your strengths. So what is your identity?

Think about the various different spheres of your life – for example, your professional, family, social, sporting or cultural spheres. Then break down the various aspects of each sphere in order to work out just how many different roles you play. One way of doing this would be to draw a mind map to describe your self-concept, an example of which is shown in above.

Developing wider identities do not take your focus away from motorsports, it is actually quite the opposite. Having a clearer understanding of who you are will allow athletes/drivers, to ‘switch on and get in the zone’ at the appropriate times and ‘switch off’ thereafter. This fits with the knowledge that successful athletes need to be in the here and now and have the ability to maintain concentration.