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 team. 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.