As quarantine begins to wind down and social distancing measures relax, the future of team sports is still uncertain: in Washington state as of the first week of July, most of its 39 counties are still in phase 2. Phase 2 regulations mean athletes can practice with no more than 5 others outside their household per week, and this only applies to outdoor facilities like tennis courts and golfing greens. Our series of issues featuring athletes in quarantine is also coming to a close, but we will still be writing about how athletes are returning to training through these intermediate stages, which are a far cry from the crowded tournaments and meets that many athletes are used to.
Ethan Tanner, a lacrosse player, is one of our featured athletes this week. He’s a little on the younger side, having just completed 7th grade at Summit Trail Middle School in Maple Valley. Ethan was first drawn to lacrosse because he found it “unique,” he says. “Not a ton of kids on the west coast play lacrosse whereas you have a lot of more popular sports like Football and Basketball that tons of kids play. I committed to Lacrosse because I’m good at it and I enjoy playing it.”
Some of Ethan’s personal athletic achievements include making it onto the highly competitive Seattle Starz and West Coast Starz lacrosse teams, both of which compete at the national level. In the last 2 years his Seattle Starz team they have won 3 championships: in Las Vegas, California, and Washington. He also plays basketball and lacrosse for Tahoma.
His training was altered significantly by quarantine: “When everything was normal and I practiced with my team 3 times a week I was getting cardio from all the running and skills from playing live. Now without being able to practice with my team I have to make sure I do things like drills, sprints, and weight lifting so I can continue to grow as a player. With lacrosse being a contact sport it’s hard to really get better without playing against people,” Ethan says.
The team trips Ethan was looking forward to over spring were all cancelled due to coronavirus concerns, but he has some hopes for this summer. “With West Coast Starz, we were going to Boston for spring break to play games, tour colleges, and watch a game, but they cancelled the trip. Coronavirus cancelled my school season, as well as interrupting my summer season. Some tournament dates have pushed back, and one tournament was cancelled so far. I feel happy that the season hasn’t been cancelled because I want to play. Since tournaments are still scheduled it’s important that I keep working hard to be the best prepared player on the field.”
We asked Ethan if he was able to effectively train in isolation. He replied, “Partly. You can run on the street and do body weight exercises with no problem, to keep building stamina and strength. But isolation is affecting my performance because I’m not getting as many live reps with contact in practice. Playing defense is not only individual, but a team effort. In lacrosse defense there are 3 close defenders who work as a unit, moving together to cover many situations on the field. Without those live practices play can get sloppy and even for groups that have played together for many seasons there can be rust.”
The lacrosse community is not able to replicate tournaments virtually, but Ethan has been able to meet with his team online. This includes “Zoom meetings, texting, and for a couple of times some teammates got together as a small group to play.” However, social distancing limits prevent Ethan from having full team practices. “I feel uneasy with not being able to train with the whole team because getting full speed live reps is the only way to be ready to play at an elite level. Practicing with small groups helps a lot, but for the team to be successful all the players have to be ready and that only happens through full practices.”
However, being able to work out and train more at home has helped Ethan find new workouts he especially enjoys. He likes to observe his “progress in strength and conditioning.
“I’m staying motivated by thinking about my teammates and the teams on the East Coast who we’re trying to beat. Those teams have been practicing and will provide a big challenge when we finally get to play them,” he tells us about how he remains focused on training.
We asked Ethan about what he has been making in his quarantine kitchen. “I don’t have any recipes, but I make some solid quesadillas,” he says.
Ethan does not take many precautions when working out outside, given that his workouts have been solitary – “I just try to social distance if around people. I haven’t explored any new routes while running because I run a set route.”
Quarantine has given him the time and ease to recover from any injuries that have arisen. “I got injured during quarantine working out and it made the recovery a lot easier because I could just rest as I didn’t have to walk at school or worry about practices.”
Ethan’s recovery routine: “I don’t stretch a lot, I only stretch before workouts. I’ve been doing weightlifting, running, and drills to stay in shape and get stronger. At a certain point in my recovery from my injury, I started working out again. I did the same exercises like squats, lunges, etc. just with lighter weight.”
He describes his advice for other athletes as having two components: mental and physical. First, there are no excuses for not working out and improving your physical shape and skills. Most athletes have the time and space, being at home, to find a workout that meets their needs. Second is the mental aspect. Be patient and realize that you will get back competing. “I’ll do it tomorrow” is an easy out to not get back to work. Your competition isn’t sitting around. They are preparing and getting better. Take that on as a challenge and start working to be the best you can be.
“I don’t think my life will go back to what was normal. I have built new routines and will continue my workouts from the quarantine time. A new normal, that will make me a better athlete.”
My mom reached out for an interview and I said okay because we thought it was a cool idea. I hope the interview will show athletes that there’s no reason to not work out.