For as long as I can remember, I’ve been coaching athletes on things bigger than sport, beyond the sets and reps, and outside the Xs and Os. One of those, which if you’ve ever set foot in a football locker room – you KNOW, has always been hygiene.
At first glance, you wouldn’t think you would need to remind 18-23 year olds how to wash, stay groomed, and in general how take care of themselves, but you’d be surprised! Things get funky FAST!
During every part of the year (off-season, summer, and in-season) we preach personal hygiene by posting locker room flyers, discussing it during announcements to teams, and individually with athletes. Everything from the benefits of personal hygiene:
- Reduction of personal illness
- Healing from personal illness
- Optimal health and well-being
- Social acceptance
- Prevention of spread of illness to others
- Respect from others and teammates
To the how’s of hygiene:
- Regular doctor visits
- Regular dentist visits
- Regular washing and bathing
- Staying well groomed
- Healthy eating
And even specifics of hygiene:
- Shower with soap
- Wear deodorant
- Wash your hands
- Brush your teeth
- Gold bond/baby powder
- Wear clean socks and underwear
- Cover your mouth when you cough/sneeze
- Use hand sanitizer
I’ve nearly seen and coached it all! No hygiene habit is too taboo or too nit-picky to discuss with athletes when I know it’s for their well-being. Sure, I got some weird looks when I’d remind them to change their drawers after lifting and before going to class, but sometimes that’s what it takes!
There aren’t any weird looks right now when reminding athletes to wash their hands. With the fast approaching panic of COVID-19 and Coronavirus, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that athletic facilities can be a breeding ground for the spread of such a virus. And while our tip-top shape athletes aren’t necessarily the most susceptible to the virus, it’s their involvement in the community and interactions with others that we have to recognize might leave them to be the spreaders of the virus.
In the case of coaches, administrators, and all athletic department personnel, the onus is on us to help remind athletes AND each other to do our part in eliminating the spread and panic of this virus. Educating yourselves and your teams is the best course of action we have, and remember to wash your hands!