Nia Jones has an instant solution to whenever the lockdown blues threaten to bring her down – she gets her kit on.
The Wales netball captain has admitted she can find motivation a tricky problem when training alone during lockdown.
Like the rest of the Worcester-based Severn Stars squad, Jones is following routines sent to her online or as part of an active Zoom session where the players listen in remotely to the coaches while going through their paces.
With the Netball Super League season brought to a sudden end – before it had been given a chance to get going – the former Celtic Dragons star concedes that shifting timeframes and a lack of personal contact with teammates can test her resolve.
But she says: “Something I have found useful, when I’ve been struggling with a bit of motivation, is just to put your kit on.
“Once you’ve got your kit on, it’s just a lot easier to get out and do your session.
“We all have down days and for no apparent reason. I can wake up sometimes in a mood and I don’t know why.
“Your coach will say, ‘has anything changed in your routine? Or is there anything that’s happened to make you feel that way?’ But sometimes there just isn’t.
“Sometimes, you wake up and you’re in a bad mood. But that’s still cool. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong.
Here’s the real Welsh summer we know and love. Missed u ☔️ pic.twitter.com/sGePOLRyXS
— Nia Jones (@niajones92) June 3, 2020
“I find that if I do my training in the morning, I am in a much better mood generally. I am much nicer to people around me, if I’ve got my session done earlier in the day.”
Jones moved to the Stars after five years with the Dragons in Cardiff, where she established her reputation as a formidable hard-edged goal defence with super-charged stamina.
That mental toughness has proved useful during the past three months, although the former Wales international footballer also has some other tips to pass on to anyone finding their get-up-and-go has got up and left.
“Something else I have found beneficial is writing down some creative sessions for myself and keeping it varied,” she says.
“If I’m feeling low or a little bit down, I always make sure I write down stuff that I enjoy. I won’t write a horrendous session that I hate doing. I will write in something I enjoy, like a workout to a cheesy Westlife song.
“Then, log it. If I scroll through my notes now it’s amazing how much training and activity you can do without realising it.
“We have decisions we can make through the day to make us feel a little bit better. I think we would all agree that the answer to that sometimes is a little bit of exercise.”
Training in the park, using a headset through which she can hear her coach’s instructions has taken a bit of getting used to – for passers-by as well as for the netballer they see running, changing direction, and suddenly flinging out a chest pass to an imaginary teammate.
But Jones insists the Zoom sessions and other aspects of lockdown have brought unexpected positive influences – such as a more reflective outlook and a willingness to share emotions.
“We are often on the hamster wheel, of getting up, going to work, training, coming home, making food and going to bed. You don’t have time to think about a lot of things.
“So, that’s been a plus – and also as soon as one person in the Zoom group admits they have been struggling for motivation, the others admit they have been the same.
“We may have had no idea the others felt the same way. So, when someone admits it, there is a comforting feeling among the whole squad that you’re not feeling those things alone.
“Then, you can ask, what are we going to do about it? We all said that trying to clock a session before midday helped our mood.
“Waiting for a session in the evening, can build up anxiety. You can make things you fear seem bigger than they are and feel more vulnerable.”
Coaching two days a week at Llandaff Cathedral School in Cardiff has also given Jones an outlet – in particular a chance to connect with people.
“The kids are doing their school work at a social distance, but it’s just been cool to go in and interact with the kids and my colleagues.
“Although we do have to hand-sanitise every few minutes!”