The longer you play one particular sport, the more likely an injury will occur. Rare is the player who can go an entire career without suffering even the most minor setback that takes him or her out of action.
Many athletes, and even some coaches, assume there is very little one can do to contribute to a team unless you’re in the game.
This is not the case.
According to Omni Cheer, a blog for athletes, players should actually do the opposite. Teammates, and even coaches, know you can’t practice or play, so they automatically assume you’ll stay away until you’re cleared to play again. Choosing to be there at practice will definitely make a lasting impression, and no one can question your commitment to the team if they see you continue to be a regular presence during your recovery.
That may not be as easy as it sounds. But it sure beats sitting at home while the season goes on without you. Here are some tips that can help ease the burden of injury and keep you involved.
Be honest about how you feel
Most players would rather hide their physical or emotional pain, and would rather not express feelings of sadness or frustration. Competitive Advantage, a site devoted to peak performance and mental toughness, advises athletes to be honest and allow yourself to feel sad over an injury. Hiding your feelings could actually interfere with your recovery. Allowing yourself to mourn the loss of action, either for a short time or extended period, will make the overall healing process a lot easier for you, not to mention those around you.
Take control of your recovery
Coaches, teammates, and parents can encourage you during your injury. Doctors and trainers can give you guidance on treatments or rehab. But only you can do what it takes to make it happen. Follow the advice of your doctor and other health professionals to the letter, and don’t try to take shortcuts. The last thing you or your team needs is for you to come back too soon and risk another injury, perhaps more serious than the first.
Volunteer to help where needed
This will obviously depend on the extent of your injury, but Omni Cheer suggests offering to help the coach with picking up around the locker room or handing out water bottles to teammates. This may not seem glamorous compared to getting a hit or striking a batter out, but you’d still be contributing, and the rest of your team would certainly take notice.
Be your coach’s eyes and ears from the bench
Former Texas A&M softball player Amanda Scarborough says there are plenty of things you can do in the dugout or on the sidelines to help your team, even during the game. If you play baseball or softball, keep a clipboard or notebook handy and chart your pitcher and the other team’s pitches. Watch baserunners and communicate your observations to your coach and teammates. Keep track of the batting order, the score, and other important information. Have a player’s gear ready for her when she comes up in the batting order. Scarborough did this when she missed time from injuries, and it played a big role in her decision to get into coaching.
Root, root, root for your team
No injury can prevent you from being a cheerleader on the sidelines (unless you’re struck with a serious case of laryngitis). According to Omni Cheer, bringing positive energy by cheering on your teammates will show them that your body may be out of action, but your team spirit is alive and well.