Supporting an injured athlete
Injury can be devastating for an athlete not only due to the physical pain experienced but also due to the mental side of being unable to play. It is important that when an athlete is injured, that their support system is encouraging them in the proper way to allow for optimal healing and a safe return to their sport.
Coaches: Continue to allow the athlete to participate in team functions, have them continue to wear their uniform during games even if they are not able to play, encourage them to attend practice, and be aware of what restrictions the athlete has with regards to their injury so you can try to maximize their participation in practice, even if it is limited greatly.
Parents: Remember that allowing for appropriate healing time along with respecting the directions/restrictions a health care provider places on the athlete will optimize their outcome and provide a safe return back into the game. Your child only gets one body to use in their lifetime so give them the time to heal in order to decrease the risk for future pain and injury as they progress through life.
Teammates: Put yourself in your teammate’s shoes and think about how it might feel to have to sit out of the sport you love. Continue to include the injured teammate in on team functions, ask them how they are doing, and if you miss playing with your injured teammate, let them know that. Peers can have a major influence on the mental healing of an injury.
Katie Reisbig Cordery, PT, DPT