One of the worst things an athlete can be told is that your season cannot go on because of an injury. These are never words you want to hear, but an injury can give you a whole new appreciation for your sport. Through injury, your toughness and grit is sure to appear more than ever before.
Make the Sideline Your New Best Friend
You have to stay positive no matter how hard it is for you to watch from the sideline. Your injury may just make you a more well-rounded teammate. Take this as an opportunity to focus on the improvement of your teammates, point something out to them that can only be seen from the sideline, and support your team win or lose. Some athletes have never experienced staying on the sideline for the whole game, let alone an entire season. This may be the most emotional part of the injury for some athletes, but it will surely make you the strongest. Use the sideline to remind you why you love the game, your teammates, and coaches rather than a reminder that you can’t be running all over the field right now. Your positive attitude is what will truly heal your injury and the emotional pain you are experiencing.
Embrace Your Injury
The first step in this is to accept your injury. Accept the fact that you cannot train or compete in the way you were for the time being. So, treat your physical therapy schedule like you would practice. Create your new daily routine and be disciplined with it. Speak with your physical therapist or doctor and do your own research to learn about your injury. The goal with this is to spend the least amount of time on the bench as possible. Be proactive in your recovery every step of the way. Be conscientious about your recovery and allow yourself the time needed to heal. Don’t skip steps in your physical therapy or recovery no matter how frustrating and repetitive it gets. Be patient. This is just temporary.
Stay in the Zone
It is so important to keep the rest of your body strong to make the overall recovery process faster and easier. This will help avoid injuries in the future as well. If your injury allows, be sure to take time to workout everywhere else but your injured area to keep your head in the game. Even if it is just a small circuit targeting your healthy muscles, it will feel great to get a sweat going. Apply your same work ethic that you would carry with you all season to hold yourself accountable and in shape. To keep up the healthy habits you have built, consistency is key. Don’t stop showing up to the gym.
A Champion Cheerleader
Your teammates are your biggest cheerleaders and want you to get back out there as soon as possible, so don’t forget to keep cheering them on. Offer support you couldn’t give if you were on the field too. Maybe, take on the role of an “assistant coach”. If you see one of your teammate’s make a great play, be sure to comment on it right when they come off the field. This is a unique opportunity for you to boost their confidence and really make a difference. Your positive energy will be sure to boost your teammates to play harder. Cheer louder than you ever have before! Get really into the game. Be the biggest fan at the game for your team!
Don’t Alienate Yourself
Do not let your injury make you question your identity as a teammate or an athlete. Do not question who you are without practice every day and games every weekend. An injury can help you build an even stronger relationship with your teammates by seeking out their support. Confide in them about how all of this is making you feel. Remember they love playing the sport just as much as you do. Be sure to continue to participate in all of the team functions that are going on. Although it is natural, fight your urge to isolate yourself from your team. Don’t think about what could have been, think about how lucky you are to have your team – your family.
Coping with an injury will certainly call upon your mental and physical toughness unlike any insanely difficult practice or close game. With the right mindset, most injuries can be overcome. Move beyond the negativity as quickly as you can. Your athletic identity will be waiting for you from start to finish of your recovery. Reflect on the joy that your sport brings you over the pain that you are in right now. Look forward to joining your teammates again and moving on from your injury. You’ve got this.
About the Author: Sarah Scelsa
Sarah Scelsa is an intern with Parisi Speed School. She is a current sophomore at Fairfield University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Communication. Since a young age, Sarah was always playing sports whether it was soccer, softball, or swimming. Her love for sports grew over the years, specifically for swimming. She swam for her club team, Lakeland Hills YMCA, for 9 years and was the captain of her high school team senior year when the team became State Champions for the third year in a row.
After graduating from Mountain Lakes High School, Sarah went on to swim at the Division I level for Fairfield University. Her team has won the MAAC Championship three years in a row now. Sarah credits her successes in the pool and the classroom to the value she has put on hard work her whole life. She is so thankful for all of the opportunities athletics have presented to her and the joy it has brought her over the years.