Every athlete knows the risks. They also never really think it will happen to them. After all, that's why there are conditioning programs, strength training, warm-ups, stretching. But then there's a misstep, a big hit, an awkward move. Suddenly life as you know it takes a very strange turn. Beyond the x-rays, the treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation lies one more piece of the puzzle that is not always tended to--what changes are going on in your head.
You may attend practice while you heal, but can no longer participate. How does that make you feel? You see the player who is now filling your shoes and doing very well. What thoughts are going through your mind?
When it is time for you to return, are you anxious? Scared? Many athletes experience new fears they never considered. They second guess every movement they make--will this hurt? Will I get hit too hard? Will I be able to play as well as I used to--ever?
The ideal time to begin to address all of these is ideally as soon as treatment starts. It's important to be able to talk to someone about your concerns. It is also important to come up with ways to calm your fears.
Relaxation to calm your mind, and using mental imagery and visualization to see yourself back in action are effective tools. Another is positive self-talk, reminding yourself of where you were and how far you've come, how strong you still are. Know that your skills, while they may be a bit rusty at first, are still there. They will return. All is not lost.
Imagine yourself back in action. Really feel like you are there. Take in sights, sounds, the feel of being back. This may seem obvious but is important to note--when you are imagining, you are completely in control of your success. Always imagine yourself being successful! You perform flawlessly, at the top of your game.
You can even visualize a situation similar to what caused your injury. This time, though, you escape injury. You catch yourself, move properly, avoid the hit. Feel your confidence grow with each scenario.
These are just a few examples. There are so many techniques you can use. Choose what works best for you. With appropriate mental preparation, you should have very little trouble making your triumphant return.
Articles for Athletes
Information to help you achieve your personal best performance!