Athletes: Use Your Head When Injured!

Posted on by jafremow

Injuries are unfortunately quite common across all sports. For example, there are approximately 1.5 million injuries sustained each year in just these three sports combined — basketball, cycling, and football (2006 data compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

Overcoming the emotional and physical challenges of a moderate or major injury requires that athletes use their head when injured. That is, athletes should bring their A Game to the training room rather than simply going through the motions. Taking a smart approach to recovery will allow the athlete to be master of the injury rather than letting the injury master the athlete.

A sports psychologist can help athletes manage the mental side of injuries. Here are six power tips for how injured athletes can win the inner game of rehab and make a triumphant return to the field. Each tip is explained in my new book, “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive” (Rodale, 2014).

1. Know and understand the five stages of loss — learn the emotional stages of recovery.

2. Team up for motivation and support — don’t be too proud to ask for help.

3. Patience is the prescription — slow and steady wins the recovery game.

4. Fire up your imagination — use visualization for healing and keeping your sports skills sharp.

5. Spin a negative into a positive — find the silver lining.

6. Power through plateaus and setbacks — a minor setback is an opportunity to make a major comeback.

Dr. Jim Afremow is a leading mental coach, a licensed professional counselor, and the author of The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive (Rodale, January 2014.) Though his private practice is located in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Afremow provides individual and group mental training services across the globe to athletes in all sports, as well as to parents, business professionals, and all others engaged in highly-demanding endeavors. His website is