In recent times, there would rarely have been a summer’s day that went by where Shane Getkate didn’t partake in some form of cricket activity.
Making his Ireland debut in February 2019, he has played in the likes of a Twenty20 World Cup qualifying campaign while travelling the globe competing in the sport he loves and enjoying a position he has grinded towards over many years.
Add to that his commitments with Ireland A, Northern Knights and Instonians, a large majority of Getkate’s time is spent on a cricket pitch.
That was until this year when the country, and most of the world, was forced into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving athletes across the globe unable to participate or put in any meaningful practice to their craft.
Getkate has experienced that from both a player and coach perspective, with his SG Coaching business moving all practice online while facing the task of coming up with productive drills that can be done in the confines of a back garden.
Although tough at the beginning getting to grips with what was now the new normal, the 28-year-old believes he has learnt lessons that will help him become a better coach in the long-term.
“It has obviously been very difficult and I think it’s just about adapting and being as proactive as you can,” he said.
“It did take a few weeks to come up with ideas and I feel it has helped my coaching and helped me to communicate better, be creative and come up with new ideas.
“Most of the kids and guys that I work with are at the age groups where we have been drilling it since November time, so it’s about doing that while bringing in little games to keep it fun and engaging.
“I’ve been learning from my contacts in Ireland, England and all over the world really to see what has been working for them and trying to learn off each other.
“I’ve had to be more creative and come up with a new way of delivering a message through social media, email, phone calls and Zoom sessions.
“We’ve all had to adapt to it and there won’t be many coaches that have used this method in the past.
“It has definitely helped my skills and made me more proactive and creative.
“I also feel it has given me confidence when I’m still playing that I can keep my coaching business going alongside my playing career.
“If I am away on international tours I can still help people online and that has give me a lot of confidence.
“It has taken the pressure off the cricket nearly which has been a big eye opener.”
Coaching is something that has always interested Getkate, starting in his mid-teens while still living in Dublin.
With his move up north, he continued to learn and grow as a leader and it’s a role he can see himself fulfilling throughout his own playing career and beyond.
“I started coaching when I was 16 living down in Dublin,” he added.
“Brian O’Rourke would have introduced me to coaching and he was a big mentor back in the day.
“I used to coach on Friday nights with Leinster age groups and I kept building on it that way.
“I did a lot of one to ones at different clubs I’ve been at and I worked with Belfast Community Sports Development Network two or three years ago for an eight-month period.
“That was great to be involved with coaches in various different sports.
“Unfortunately the funding got reduced by Sport NI and I got let go but that forced me to set up my own business and do things by myself.
“I felt less restricted then and I could go all over Ireland and not just certain areas in Belfast.
“I enjoyed that freedom and I enjoy passing on my knowledge and helping others improve their game in all aspects.
“I would like to continue doing it while playing and then after my career.”
Matchday is the most important part of any cricketer’s schedule but another crucial aspect to the sport is the camaraderie and relationships built up with team-mates.
Losing that over the last couple of months will have been disappointing for cricketers at all levels with contact having basically been limited to Zoom calls and more recently socially distanced activities.
Despite the hardships that lockdown has brought, Getkate has tried to find the positives from the situation and is hoping he can carry certain aspects into a time when cricket is back up and running.
“It has been quite tricky,” he said.
“It was a shock to the system for the first week or two but it has helped me to realise that getting into a routine and staying patient is key.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of my team-mates and guys outside of cricket and keeping that communication open, helping others and learning from others what is working for them so that I can learn from them to help us stay together as a group even if we aren’t together.
“We have been chatting with each other as much as possible and keeping the team morale has been really important.
“We are on a strict regime fitness wise so I’ve been working out six to seven times a week and it’s very good for the mindset.
“Hopefully I can continue these good habits when things go back to normal.
“Missing the competitive side of the game has been frustrating and the weather has been superb in May so it has been frustrating not getting out there but it’s about being patient.
“Most of us have been away to countries where we are stuck in hotels for long periods and not allowed to roam about, but those times have given us a few tools to work on and reflect on what you did then and bring that into the times we are going through at the moment.”
It can be easy to take a lot of things for granted in day-to-day life but it feels like the current period has helped bring a lot of things into perspective for many people.
You only have to pick up your phone or switch on the television to realise the impact that coronavirus has had worldwide with a rising death toll, people losing their jobs and businesses closing.
This enforced break has provided Getkate with a new clarity about the path he wants to be on and a deeper appreciation for what he gets to do for a living.
“I’ve learnt a lot during this time but the main thing is getting into a good routine, staying active and communicating with people on all levels as best you can,” he added.
“I think that is something I can bring into life when things do go back to normality.
“It will be a bit more difficult with distractions around but this time has shown that if you slow things down, reflect and take a bit of a back seat you can see where your life is going.
“This period has helped me get clarity on where I want to go in terms of cricket, lifestyle and coaching career. I have definitely learnt a lot that way.
“You look at a lot of people and situations on the news which makes you appreciate just how lucky we are to still be contracted and still have jobs.
“Millions of people have lost their jobs and lives around the world so it makes you appreciate the small things a lot more.
“Cricket is really important but there is so much more to life so it’s about making sure I’m grateful and have a clear perspective on where I’m at and how lucky we are to be playing full-time cricket and travelling the world for free.
“It has made me appreciate the small things and hopefully I can try to continue that as much as I can.”