Posted 11/28/2018 in Category 1

How do you talk to an injured athlete?

How do you talk to an injured athlete?

Earlier this week, I got a call from an athlete who explained in a feeble tone: ‘the funeral procession has just begun in my mind; I’m not sure how long it will be this time round”. This was the athlete’s way of explaining that she was injured again and the prognosis was indeterminable at this stage. I felt she was searching for hope and reassurance especially because of her previous injuries but I thought it best to be quiet and listen for now. She spoke some more, perhaps before I got the chance to say “everything will be alright and you’ll be back in no time at all”; perhaps before I had time to engage my professional training. I wanted to reassure her because I was feeling responsible in some way and I also felt her anguish and hopelessness.

I encouraged her to speak without preventing the flow she had begun. I simply tried to understand what it felt like for her right here, right now. I don’t think I even asked her one question in the 30 minutes we spoke on the phone. Toward the end of the conversation, she startled me when she said: “When I think back about what I’ve just been talking about I can see how sensible your advice is about coping with my injury. I know I have the skills to cope and I look forward to the challenge of recovering one day at a time”.  Why was I startled? Simply because I hadn’t said anything; I certainly had not given her any advice. But I guess what she said sounded like it should have come from me rather than her. She had internalized how to be a good coach to herself. She had learned to help herself in a kind and supportive manner. We arranged to meet again after she had seen her podiatrist and physiotherapist to establish her recovery plans.

If you would like to find a sport psychologist or counsellor to help your recovery from injury you can search our directory to see who is listed and you can join our directory and be part of our community here.