All athletes at some point experience an injury. The great majority eventually heal physically, but the mental state of an injured athlete can be even more important.
Injured athletes can feel isolated from the team. They may sometimes think their coach and teammates are treating them differently. They often feel like they are stuck, unable to compete, or no longer good enough to be on the team.
So how do we help pull such athletes out of their mental slump? Here are three tips for how to help an injured athlete.
Let Them Do Their Thing
Don’t talk about the injury all the time. Don’t ask how they’re feeling, how therapy is going, or plans for their comeback. These athletes are already dealing with the injury 24/7, so talking about it only makes it harder to deal with. They need to breathe and not think about their predicament all the time.
Give Them Some Space
It may not seem like a big deal to you as an outsider, but an injury (especially a serious one) poses a whole new challenge to an athlete. Be supportive, but let them take time if they need it.
Keep Them Busy With Other Things
Talk to the coach and find ways they can help the team besides actually playing. They will feel as if they are still part of the team and still contributing. For athletes, the team is their family, and when they feel alienated from the family, it can be hard to get over it.