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
The decision to recommend athlete retirement due to concerns for brain health is not one to be taken lightly. Several factors must be considered, as the removal from sport itself may lead to its own issues down the line, especially if the decision is made for the athlete instead of by or with the athlete. Most athletes, especially one-sport athletes or those playing at an elite level, identify themselves heavily with their sport. For this reason, forced retirement can have a significant impact on their overall wellbeing.
As outlined below, there are several factors to consider when discussing possible retirement from sport due to brain health concerns.Read More
For athletes forced to discontinue their sport due to injury or health condition, the mental journey towards acceptance and internal healing can be confusing, complicated, and flat out brutal.
Permanently-sidelined athletes have described their grief as feeling as though a part of them has died. Sports psychologists refer to this as “losing the athletic identity”. One of the hardest parts of processing the loss of ability to compete in sport is feeling like you don’t know who you are without your sport.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