Research Summaries Research Summary 22 Coping with Injury - Page 3
Helping Players Cope with the Stress of Injury
Strategies for temporary physical restrictions
The research notes that, as well as becoming stressed
when injury impairs their physical movements, players can
become frustrated when they see their fully fit teammates
not giving 100% effort during training or a match (ie if they
are not taking advantage of the opportunity to play, which
the injured player no longer has).
This gives coaches a difficult balancing act to manage. If
they simply advise the injured player to return to training
when they are able to play, it could prolong their physical
and mental recovery. However, asking them to continue
attending may also impact on their recovery if frustration
builds from seeing teammates not giving their all.
To manage the balancing act, coaches – with the
permission of those managing the injured player’s
healthcare – could try involving the injured player in
practices and drills if they are able to participate in limited
ways. Or the coach can try to modify exercises to ensure
the player can continue to take part alongside the rest of
The study found that while doing different exercises from
the rest of the group can be slightly frustrating for the
injured player, it is worthwhile as it ensures they continue
to feel a part of the team.
Another suggested alternative may be for coaches to
devise other exercises for the injured player that focus on
improving skills in areas not affected by the injury.
Of course, in some situations, injuries do not allow any
kind of physical movement.The study encourages coaches
to be creative in these instances. Could the injured player
observe and critique different parts of the session, or
design and run new drills to help develop one of the
team’s weaknesses? Keeping the player involved in the
wider group is the main focus here as it reduces the stress
associated with being unable to contribute to the team.
Another creative strategy coaches can consider is the use
of imagery, or in other words, advising injured players to
recreate physical experiences in the mind. Practising skills
mentally, rather than physically, reduces the risk of further
injury while still allowing them to build confidence when
preparing for their return.