Anybody that plays any kind of sport on a regular basis, will at some point very likely have to deal with the issue of injury. Particularly in a sport as physically demanding and dynamic as squash, sudden trauma injuries (such as strained muscles or sprained ligaments/tendons) or nagging overuse injuries (such as tendonitis) are common.
We talk a lot about the physical side of injury, the rehabilitation, therapy, and strengthening/rebuilding, but what is less commonly discussed is the psychological impact of injury.
Sport plays a very important part in the lives of many people, whether it be young athletes who play and compete at a high level with visions of possibly going on to a career in professional sport, or adult men and women for whom sport perhaps fulfils an important social or stress-busting role in their lives. Either way, the frustration and emotional impact of not being able to participate in a chosen sport can be a very difficult thing to deal with, and is something that is all too often not adequately addressed.
Another important area to consider in dealing with the psychological element of injury, relates to those who work within sports coaching and the important role that the coach themselves play in the whole process of a player dealing with and recovering from injury.
Particularly for younger children who play sport regularly, the coach has a crucial part to play in providing supporting and encouragement and ensuring the junior athlete does not feel left out or forgotten. Often just making the effort to still include the injured youngster in team practices and matches can go a long way, whether it be having them help you out in coaching sessions, or through some kind of record taking or marking role on days where there is a tournament or team match.
An excellent in-depth article I read recently on the topic of dealing with the psychological aspects of injury can be found at the competitivedge.com website. Esteemed American Sports Psychologist Dr Alan Goldberg's article 'The Mental Side of Athletic Injuries: A Coach's and Athlete's Guide to Psychologically Rebounding from Injury' is a great piece that talks about some of the consequences and impact of longer term injury on the sportsperson, and offers guidance for both the coach and the injured individual themselves about how best to deal with the difficult emotions and frustrations that can result. Well worth checking out if you are currently dealing with the pain and frustration of injury, either your own or that of a player you coach.
Gary Nisbet - B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
Squashskills Fitness & Performance Director
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