Season ending injuries can be a major psychological blow for any athlete to handle. Now pair that with the isolation of COVID-19 quarantine and you have what can be a debilitating mental hurdle for an athlete to overcome on their own.
For you as an athlete, there are several methods for dealing with this time to optimize your mental state and physical outcome once we resume sport.
- Set an alarm – It is easy to sleep in, lay in bed, or not feel constrained to the normal daily hours when we now operate completely out of our homes or apartments. It is important to create structure from the moment you wake up. Each day should start with the objective of making progress toward your goals, so get your day started as you would normally assuming you have had enough recovery sleep.
- Make a solid breakfast – With a little extra time on your hands spend some extra time making a more elaborate breakfast. Make something you would pay for at your favorite diner or brunch spot. Most likely you will now start your day off with a more balanced meal and have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- Set the schedule for the day – Structure, and consistency are an athlete’s best friend, specifically when you need to accomplish repetitive and monotonous tasks in your rehab. If you can set your “have to” tasks for specific times/appointments in the day, it creates an appointment with yourself that you can build your day around. Rehabbing your injury should take priority over most things. Locking it into your calendar will allow you to prepare for it physically and mentally like any other training session.
- Watch film – Most team sport athletes watch film daily with their coaches or teammates. Film sessions are always an opportunity to gain a mental advantage in your sport. The players who can develop a coach-like knowledge of their game, strategy and technique can quickly elevate their game. While you are working back toward the physical demands of your sport, you can spend time exceeding your previous mental skills related to your sport.
- Mental skill apps – The resources we have today at our fingertips through apps & audio books allows us to have access to great tools that can help us with meditation, metal focus, and mindset. Our perception is our reality and the more we realize that as a rehabbing athlete the more we can control our daily mental environment.
- Find a project – We all have some projects that we have been putting off, so instead of gravitating toward social media or TV try and set out to accomplish a few of them. It can be as simple as a spring cleaning or doing some DIY projects. The more comfortable our environment is the better we will feel in it.
- Nutrition – Keeping your nutrition on track can be very difficult when you are constantly on the go traveling from class, to practice, commuting home, and running errands. While at home you can look up recipes, cook large batches of food, and balance your diet. There are endless resources available, and your coaching staff will be a great option for meal plan guides.
- Engage with your support system – There are several types of support systems in our life. We need to keep engaged with them to feel connected to the outside world, and the greater purpose we have in our own lives. Use zoom, facetime, text, phone calls to connect with coaches, teammates, family, and loved ones. All these people in your life are rooting for your success and they will be a great positive energy for you to have daily contact with. Keeping up with your teammates will allow you all to hold each other accountable, creating a vision toward the time period when you can get back to practicing together.
- Listen to your body – Without direct contact with your medical provider, athletic trainer, or strength and conditioning staff, you will be required to provide thoughtful subjective feedback on your rehab progress. Always be cautious about pain, discomfort or swelling of the injury, and always be honest with your support team about the status of the injury. There will be times when you take two steps forward then immediately take one step back the next day. Rehab is a very fluid process that changes day-to-day, and your support team will be able to help guide you through the ups and downs. Regardless of the hashtag #nodaysoff you will need days off for relaxation, recovery, and lowering stress. Stick with your program and allow your body to recover, adapt, and progress.
- One day at a time – One of the biggest challenges for after a major injury can be learning to take the process one day at a time. We as athletes want to progress quickly and return to performance as fast as we can. It is uncomfortable losing a part of your athletic ability that you have worked so hard to perfect. On added benefit of the quarantine is that we all are on “pause” athletically, and you now have more time to rebound from an injury. Most coaching staffs will know once practice resumes that they will need to progress your team back to competition more cautiously, creating a more forgiving environment for you to return to.
There are plenty of resources to help you mentally overcome your injury, explore some with the links below –
Mick Hughes on Youtube – A great channel with a wide variety of injury recovery exercises you can do at home
Meditation Apps for a Better Headspace – 5 apps curated by Runner’s World
The Power of Player Ownership During Recovery – A Case Study with Martin Guptill
How to Monitor Training Remotely – 5 steps to get started with remote monitoring
Interested in tracking your remote training? Get in touch with us and ask about a free trial of IMU Step to see how we can help your return-to-play.