Injury: 5 Tips for Returning to Play After One

trainer working a knee with a brace

Getting Back to the Court After Injury

When thinking about returning to play after an injury, the worry is about your body being ready and the injury being fully recovered. However, that is only one step. The next step is to be mentally ready to return to play.

Just like physical rehab, there needs to be a mental rehab. And just like physical rehab, it takes time and effort. After you break a bone, no one is expecting you to be able to use it the next day or be back to perfect form right away. In that same way, it can be difficult to get right back because of things you may need to work on mentally.

5 Things To Work Through to Return After Injury

  1. Being ready to play again. Just because you are physically recovered, you may have nerves about playing again, stepping back on that court, and trying to fit back into the role and team again.
  2. Overcoming facing a similar situation. Especially if you injured yourself while playing, the thought of having to do a similar move/play/etc could increase your stress levels and make it more difficult to return successfully.
  3. Your attitude about your injury, your sport, and your team. Depending on the length of the injury, you may start to have a different attitude about returning to basketball. If you think it ruined your improvements, or that you are stuck “back at the bottom,” or maybe you lost some of the love you have for the sport because of the injury. All of these are obstacles to not just returning to play but also enjoying basketball again.
  4. Your belief about your abilities since the injury. After and injury, people often feel like they lost their abilities or have to relearn everything (some injuries definitely require more physical recovery than others). Moreover, if you have this belief, whether it is true or not, you now not only have to fight to get your abilities back but now you have to fight your negative self-talk and abilities.
  5. The nerves involved in practice, competition, and being a “good” teammate again. One more thing that you have to work through mentally is just being back on the court and trying to be that teammate that fits right back in with the energy, skills, plays, etc.

How to Work Through These 5 Things?

  1. Just like we do a physical rehab, it is important to do a mental rehab.
  2. Ensuring you still are involved with the team on and off the court will help with confidence when returning.
  3. You should still work on what you can do physically.
  4. You should imagine facing the same situation and working through whatever emotions come up.
  5. Finally, remind yourself that you can work on the physical and focus on controlling the controllables of the return.

Content Created by Kathryn Colby, M.Ed.

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