To the athlete out for injury,
It is the worst feeling watching your teammates brave the competition with you sitting on the sidelines. With you having to watch them be in the position that all you can think about is you being in their steps. You see them strap up, put on their jerseys on and go out for warm ups. While you stand in the background watching them, seeing them become more of a team without you. Seeing them becoming better. You can't help but feeling like you are falling behind. That you could be doing more than just being supportive. That each of them that are on the court are getting ahead of you, because you are not getting that experience. You are not practicing. You are not having the same amount of time to get better. You have all the feelings and the drive of wanting to compete but either a doctor’s note is keeping you from doing just that, or maybe your health is keeping you from even feeling that you can even perform the tasks in which you would have to do.
You feel like your body have betrayed you. That is isn't doing what you want. That it isn't allowing you to do what you drive to do. What you are determined to do. What it is that you have been focusing on doing for as long as you have known. And it is that one piece of paper that is keeping you from doing it. One word, Cleared. Is all the you want to hear every time you go in to see if you are ready to compete. You sit there and think.... Cleared. Cleared. Cleared. That's all you want to hear. But at the end of the appointment your doctors will say "Well let's schedule an appointment for..." And suddenly all hope is lost.
You are back to watching practices. Back to watching what you use to be your life flash before your eyes. You remember all the times in which you had success the days that you had a break through. The days when at practice you finally learned a new skill. You pushed your body to the limits.
You begin to count the days until you go back in. Count how many tournaments or games you are going to miss. The number of hours you are going to need to put back in when you get cleared to play. What you are going to need to do when you get back to be ready to compete. The drills you need to do. The extra time you will need to put in. How you are going to learn all the plays, you think about how you are going to earn your spot back.
Some of you will notice that there just isn't enough time. That your season is over. That you are going to have to wait until next year to be able to compete for whatever team you may be on. This pushes back your goals. Your plans that you had made for your future. That time table had shifted. Now it is a catch up game. And you have to look and see everyday that you are behind.
You'll be mad. Mad that you went into the doctor in the first place. Mad that you could have pushed through it instead of going through all the steps of getting better. Mad that if you hadn't said a thing no one would know a difference. No one would assume that anything was wrong. You could have pushed harder. Most of all Mad that you aren't getting better. You are mad that it is taking so long. Which in the end is just causing stress on your body, which is making it have a more difficult time of trying to get better. Because now it is having to deal with your reaction to not being well as well as the injury of sickness on general. Mad that your friends are out there and that you are over here.
Suddenly you will be more stressed. Stressed that you will lose your spot. That you wont come back to the game like you were prior to the injury. That everything you are doing isn't right. That the doctors are wrong. That you really don't have anything wrong with you. You will start to think that you know more than your doctor’s. That they are just being over protection. You'll become stressed because of all the doctor’s bills, you are out and don't have the time to be able to get more money to pay for them. All of this will make you tired. Tired of thinking about all the other things. The outside factors will be too much and some of you will break down.
To an athlete missing out is the worst thing that can Happen.
But what if you didn't go to the doctors. Your injury could have been worse than you thought. You could have pushed through a couple more games but it would have caused more damage and now you are going to be out longer than you would have been if you went in last month. The chest pain, cough and constant fevers could be related to a deadly infection or the constant sharp back problems is really a bulged disk and requires surgery.
Personally I have experienced this.
I suffered through 2 months of dislocated ribs. Dislocating them over 40 times until finally I went to the doctors. The results were that I had a blood infection. One that was causing problems in my lungs and heart. One that causing inflammation in my chest and was all connected to the constant rib dislocations. It was causing me to feel sick all the time, to be tired, almost as though I had a constant flu. If I didn't go in it wouldn't have stopped. I would have always been in pain. The blood infection could have eventually caused respiratory failure and I could have stopped breathing. But it would have been to late.
Sometimes we do have to take a step back. Look into the world of what it is. Look and see that things are not going to happen the way we want them too. That we are not made of steel. That there are so many things in this world that can harm us.
And if we are no longer iron man. Than we need to be able to look at ourselves and be able to determine when we are hurting so that we are not causing more pain.
When we do break down, then life becomes more of a time to make sure that we are getting ourselves well, we can look into diets and keeping up with the maximum level of exercise our doctors will allow. We watch. We watch our teammates. The way in which they handle themselves. We see the reactions and mental parts of the game. Soon you will start to see the high and low points. The times in which they could have done something differently that would have worked better. Instead of just thinking like a player in action you'll start to develop more of a coach’s view. Seeing that having a clear level head is essential. You will see that the harder one works the better they will start to preform. Those that are focus are beginning to push their boundaries.
The time off will be a learning game. But more of a study of behavioral patterns rather than the sport itself. You'll start to see the areas in your own game that you need to work on.
You can mental prepare yourself to become more of a competitor. To become mentally sound enough to challenge yourself more.
You'll see things in a different way.
Even though one may not want to miss out on playing time, when we do have to take the opportunity to learn a different viewpoint as much as you can. After all you are never emotional and physically out of it. Injurers are just a time to look at the other main part of the game, which is the mental part. Learn how to use it. So that when you finally get the note that says you are clear you can use your trained skills with a new outlook. Watch everyone else’s reactions to high and lows, how does it effect the way in which their performance goes? Do they do better or do they let it get the better of them? After a bad play, do they get mad and then continue to make bad plays? These are all different factors that you can look into while you are not playing because when you are on the sidelines you start to see these things more than when you are the one in the middle of it all. Learn from what others do. Being out isn’t the end of you being able to learn new skills, it is the beginning of getting yourself mentally sound and ready for when you are the one back on the field.
You’ll began to notice that different things that your coaches talk about, whatever it may be. Like my coach always talks about not feeling like you are entitled to be the best, that you have to always be working hard to prove that you are. Things are not going to happen for those that do not put the work into what they are doing.
Take your time to get back into the game, you don’t want to completely rush getting back into it before you are ready, or you will end up just having to sit out once again.
Learn from being out, so that even though you took time off you will return just as strong as they are.
After all an injury is never the end, it is the beginning of a new step in you training yourself in a better way.
One of you.