The reality is, for many athletes, the peak performance era in competitive sports is sometimes ended sooner than expected. Whether that be a career-ending injury, repeat injuries that eventually make a comeback next to impossible, a new medical diagnosis, or a series of concussions that threaten to impact long-term brain health, being forced out of a competitive sport due to medical reasons can be devastating. More than “losing your sport” at this point, you may feel like you’ve also been stripped of your identity. Somehow, you need to make a mental shift and create a new identity. Granted, this can be extremely difficult and can take years. However, there are many ways to make this transition easier. One specific way is to retain your physicality.Read More
Insightful articles for helping permanently-sidelined athletes find a meaningful way forward.
Sometimes difficult transitions can make treating yourself kindly even more challenging. Evaluating emotional responses and internal dialogues while proceeding to implement change can be a tiresome task, as discussed in our previous articles here and here. Despite its potential difficulty, the exercise of evaluating internal dialogues can impact powerful change. Once you have learned to “mind your mind” and create more healthy internal dialogues, you are ready to start rebuilding what was lost.Read More
Being forced to retire from competing in a sport that you love is objectively heartbreaking. You’re allowed (even encouraged) to let yourself feel every negative emotion that comes with grieving the loss of a really important aspect of your life and identity. What remains important throughout this process though, is that you treat yourself with kindness and patience. You owe it to yourself to alter any internal-dialogues which threaten to convince you that these circumstances are more disastrous than you are strong.
As we begin to analyze our internal dialogues, we should be wary of unhelpful thought patterns that have manifested themselves so deeply that they impact our entire perception of the world, our experiences, and ourselves. These thoughts are not reality-based and overtime they are reinforced, resulting in biases, irrational thoughts, and groundless beliefs.Read More
There are many different scenarios an athlete can experience which may lead to being permanently sidelined from their sport. As athletic trainers, we often find ourselves as the first responders to many of these injuries or situations. Most people associate being sidelined with a catastrophic injury that happens in an instant. However, several times we are forced to have a conversation regarding long term dysfunction and quality of life with our athletes and in most cases their parents as well.Read More
Whether you are a friend, family member, teammate, athletic trainer, or coach of an athlete who has recently been permanently sidelined, the grief of the sidelined athlete can weigh heavy on you as well. You want to help but it can be tough to know what to say or how to ease the pain of the athlete who has experienced such a devastating loss. Following these research-based guidelines, you can support the permanently sidelined athlete in navigating a healthy adjustment to his or her new reality and have a positive impact in the athlete’s emotional recovery.Read More
Following their injuries, sidelined athletes go through a period of sadness, characterized by low energy, lack of motivation, inactivity, and withdrawal. This is a natural and necessary phase which sidelined athletes must go through in order to come to terms with the significance of their loss. The question then begs, what can one expect in this period? How long does this period last? Going through the Down Period blind and alone can further the athlete's depression.Read More