Injury is part of the game. Every athlete knows the importance of injury prevention; warming up before each competition and stretching after every practice.

But sometimes prevention may not cut it. For many of these athletes, the game is their life. It’s all they know, so when season ending injury occurs, it hits hard – no pun intended.

The injury risks are there for any athlete, and sitting out a match or season due to injury is a real possibility. But no athlete is prepared to deal with the physical and mental strains an injury can have on everyday life.

Keeping an athlete away from the sport they love affects them not only physically, but also mentally. Isolation, anxiety and fear are some of the feelings athletes go through as they deal with the process of rehabilitation.

One of the biggest issues they face is the fear of re-injury, which can impede them from performing at their fullest potential.

Most of these athletes will deal with a sense of disorder. Since high school and collegiate days, these athletes have followed a strict routine of school, practice and diet.

With injury, all of that goes out the window; new schedule, no practice, no team or coaching meetings. All of that changes everything.

When it comes down to it, the road to recovery is often more of a mental strain than a physical one. Rehabilitation goes beyond the training room. Mental strength is vital when it comes to building a stronger better version of yourself.

Consider these 3 steps when it comes to rebuilding confidence and focus:

  1. Talk to someone. Reaching out to a professional does not show weakness, it’s just the opposite. Sitting down and talking about fears, concerns and the future shows a person’s strength. Instead of pushing those feelings deep within and allowing it to turn into a bigger problem, speaking to someone else is a great preventative measure.
  2. Goal setting. Though they may not help win a game or reach a new personal record, setting small, short term goals can boost confidence and help keep you focused. Accept that rehabilitation goals will not be the same as pre-injury goals and adjust your thinking to what is realistic. Remember to celebrate each milestone – this will keep you motivated when times are tough.
  3. Revert your energy. Use your athletic prowess to get fulfillment off the court. Volunteer by coaching a team or teach leadership skills course at a local high school. Teaching others what you have learned can help can help sharpen your own understanding of the game for you return. Staying busy is a healthy distraction to staying at home with negative thoughts.

Remember, sometimes your body recovers faster than your brain does. Let yourself heal emotionally; build your confidence back up; practice the three steps listed above along with a list of affirmations you should tell yourself as you build back your return to the game.

Practice saying these every morning: “I’m excited to get back to my sport. I am a strong athlete. This pain and difficulty is only temporary. When I come back I will be stronger than before. My body is getting stronger.”