Zero to hero: The fastest way back to your physical prime in Alert Level 2

He toa tākaro: Te ara tere ki te toa tākaro i te Taumata Tiaki 2
Young women on rugby field

Take the time to get match-fit and avoid injury when getting back to playing sport after the COVID-19 lockdown.

During lockdown for COVID-19 many of us haven't been able to get to the gym, play team sports or exercise with people outside our bubbles. We know many of you will have kept your activity levels pumping at home, but perhaps not as much as before lockdown.

And that will mean you aren't as match-fit as you'd expect for this time of year. In fact, picking up where you left off before lockdown will be the quickest way to injury, not peak performance.

During Alert Levels 1 and 2, you may be hitting courts, fields or gym floors again. But you'll still need to follow guidelines for hygiene, for how far apart you are from other people, and the number of people playing sport together.

The ACC SportSmart website has guidelines for the safe return to sport under Alert Level 2. It covers indoor and outdoor training requirements, as well as hygiene, physical distancing, and first aid.

Safe return to sport guidelines on ACC SportSmart

Safe return to sport - printable PDF

And if you're feeling unwell, take a break from training. Don't attend training if you've got a fever, runny nose or cough.

For everyone else who is healthy, you'll still be out of shape after so long away from training.

Advice for players

Give yourself time to get back up to strength for when you hit the field, court or circuit again. Use these next few weeks to do your own preparation regardless of whether your regular team training has started up again.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • recognise and accept that this season isn’t normal so give yourself time to build up fitness and focus on the long game
  • you’ll reach your potential faster and get better results if you focus on building up your sport-specific physical condition first
  • the best thing you can do for your team is to take your time to get back to your best
  • you’ve waited this long to get back into sport. Don’t blow your season by going too hard too soon!

Advice for coaches

When starting back into team sport, training sessions should focus on physical conditioning and developing fitness specifically for that sport. This will help reduce the chance of your players getting injured. 

Keep these tips in mind:

  • give your team time to build up fitness and focus on the long game
  • focus on physical conditioning and gradually increase training as you move back into sport
  • going too hard too soon will increase the risk of your players getting injured
  • the highest-performing teams have the lowest injury rates
  • think about rotating your players and options for shortened games.

More info

Sport New Zealand has information on what the alert levels mean for sport.

Sport New Zealand

Fit4Football website has information for football players wanting to prevent injuries and improve performance and wellbeing.


LeagueSmart website covers conditioning, warm-up and other techniques to get the most out of the games.


NetballSmart is Netball New Zealand’s injury prevention website.


RugbySmart is New Zealand Rugby’s website with resources for all players, including warm-ups, techniques and how to improve performance.


TouchFit360 website has resources to help players improve performance and avoid injury.


The Unite Against COVID-19 government website has information about exercise and sport during Alert Level 2.

Unite Against COVID-19: Exercise, sport and recreation

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