One of the worst times in any athletes’ career is the day they get injured. It can seem like your entire world falls apart, and you are left on the sidelines watching your team compete without you. This terrible feeling is inevitable for some, and coming back from an injury can be both a mental and physical struggle. Unless your injury is career-ending, you owe it to yourself and your team to get back out there and start competing again.
The first thing that you need to do when returning from IR is to prepare mentally.
Many athletes become shell-shocked after they get hurt. They are more cautious and less aggressive in hopes of not getting hurt once more. You can reduce this affect by focusing on the positive aspects of your ability and working hard in physical therapy to return stronger than you were previously.
You also have to realize that injuries are an unfortunate part of any sport. The good news is that you can take a number of precautions to prevent getting hurt during competition.
The best two preparations for an athlete are stretching and warming up.
Properly stretching increases your range of motion, which is a key factor in performing at an optimal level.
Warming up gets your body ready for intense activity by loosening up muscles and joints along with getting the blood (oxygen) flowing throughout your system. The harder you train, the more likely your body will respond appropriately during the game. Both stretching and warming up are boring and methodical, but these actions, when done correctly, are necessary to compete at the highest levels.
Finally, coming off an injury is an opportunity to become a more cerebral athlete. You will undoubtedly pay closer attention to every movement on the field and be sure to put yourself in the safest position possible in order to prevent another setback. As mentioned before, athletes cannot allow an injury to change their pace/style of play, unless it improves their performance. However, making safe decisions during competition is a best practice for all athletes. For example, in football, ball carriers can reduce collisions by leading with their pads upon contact and going down when surrounded. Basketball players should learn how to protect themselves when going up for a layup in traffic. Baseball athletes should know when and how to slide in order to avoid getting hurt.
There will always be a risk of becoming hurt in sports, especially when playing with a high level of intensity. If you’ve ever been sidelined because of an injury, make sure you completely heal before returning to competition. Lastly, learn from your setback and so that you can bounce back into the sport and lead your team towards success.
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