How to Cope With Doubts After Injury
Injuries are challenging for soccer players. The mental wear and tear on your body and mind are significant.
Painful rehab, inactivity, and worry can be an emotional burden that can be difficult to bear.
As difficult as being injured can be, getting back into action is often more mentally strenuous.
In our Mental Game of Soccer survey, one soccer player expressed great concern about rebounding from injury and getting back into competitive action.
“How can you stop worrying about injury during the game, and not let it affect your decisions?”
You would think you would be ecstatic getting back in the game. All those long hours of rehabbing, missing out on the camaraderie of being together with your team, sitting on the sidelines and potentially losing your role on the team are legitimate concerns for an injured player.
The hardest component of getting back in the game is fear, in particular, the fear of re-injury.
Fear not only affects your decision making but fear can also lead to re-injury.
Let’s play out the effects of fear on the soccer field…
You missed a couple of months due to a knee injury. You stuck to your rehab regimen and were cleared to return to competition. You slowly eased back into practice for a couple of weeks and feel good, no soreness or pain.
You feel ready and confident about playing again. Your coach tells you he is reinserting you into the lineup as a midfielder and you are ecstatic.
On game day, you feel more nervous than usual. During warm-up, you start panicking, “What if I re-injure my knee?” During the game, you are so afraid to re-injure your knee that your whole body feels tense. To protect yourself, you play very tentatively.
You feel something in your knee, not pain, but your worry increases and you make several mistakes. It feels impossible to concentrate.
Not only does fear of re-injury lead to mistakes and under-performance, it greatly increases the chance of re-injury. When you try to protect the previously injured area, it causes tension, throws off your gait and leads to potential re-injury.
Overcoming the Fear
Overcoming the fear of re-injury requires a two phase plan:
1. Switch your Focus – You have a choice as to what you will focus on during a game. Your choice of focus can either be harmful or helpful. Focus on the fear of re-injury or playing poorly, you increase the chances of playing poorly and the risk of re-injury.
The other option that increases the chances of playing solid soccer and reducing the risk of re-injury is to play freely. Playing freely doesn’t mean playing recklessly but playing instinctively where you are immersed in the action on the field and not overthinking.
2. Relax your Body – Since physical tension is your enemy, you need to learn effective strategies to relax on the field when you get the chance. Taking several deep breaths or shaking out your body can reduce tension in your body.
Be patient with your injury and be fully prepared mentally and physically.
Be ready to counter any doubts your have about returning to play. You want to prepare for the challenges associated with returning to competition.
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Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
If you’re a top performer during practice but find yourself under-performing in competition, the most likely culprit holding you back is your mental game. In fact, many athletes struggle with the same problem….
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.
Meet with us via Skype, phone, FaceTime, or GoTo Meeting. With today’s video technology, we are able to connect with athletes and coaches all over the globe.
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“I have enjoyed and benefited from
your emails over the past year or two. I have been a player, parent, and
coach in soccer over the past 40 years. Thanks for the assistance with
the mental game resources.”
“We try and spend 20 to 30 minutes a
day working on the mental aspects of the game. My daughter is really
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mother and I. I think you need to open a branch up here in Detroit,
Michigan because there are a lot of parents and kids up here that need
this information. Keep up the good work!”
“Adam is truly one of your success
stories. We purchased the CD program for him last year around this time.
He is a soccer goalie and needed more confidence. The change was
dramatic and he still goes through the exercises before a big game.”