Injuries are a part of the game, but what is an athlete to do once they have been hurt?
There are three steps that an athlete must consider- assess, accept and adapt. This process will help an athlete not only make a decision for their best course of action but also protect their long term goals.
Become aware of all the variables. How significant is the injury. Consider the age old dilema – Playing hurt vs playing injured. Short term gain in light of long term consequences. On a scale of 1-10 how much of your athlete ability will you have available to them 1-none at all 10- 100% in light of the injury. What are the medical staff opinions of they injury. How much pain is the athlete willing to play with.
Learning to accept is crucial. Sports can be very ego driven at times and can cause athletes to make poor decisions. If you are injured to the point that you will be a liability to the team, accept it. Let go of any negative self talk. Sometimes a warrior needs to stand down to fight another day. If you decide to play with pain, accept the pain. Don’t allow the pain to have you half in, half out of the present moment. Just do your best. If your potential drops from a ten to a seven because of the injury, then max out to that seven. If a six, then play at a six. Your best may not be the same as when you are a ten but that is the nature of overcoming an injury in the moment.
So what must I change about how play, in light my injury, to still be contributing and effective to my team or myself. How can I raise my energy by focusing on other elements of game, not just my injury. Example, “Why I love the game”, connecting to equipment (taping sticks, sharpening skates,) become familiar with any new equipment added to protect the injury etc. Talking with team-mates about the game. Let your focus be in the moment and be the best you can be every shift, and every moment you are in.
Awareness that can you have a success blueprint approach like the one above to an injury can be very comforting. Injuries can be a time of great uncertainty but having an approach of awareness, acceptance and adaptation will help an athlete make meaningful, conscious short term decisions that may affect them in the long run.