By Porsha Jones, MS, LMFT
Dear Student Athlete,
You are not alone.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control high school students account for an estimated 2 million injuries each year?
Although this statistic is a fact, I know you may “feel” alone. Other feelings that may be surfacing for you are fear, sadness, anger, guilt and disappointment.
These feelings can be frowned upon often by coaches, classmates and even parents.
I want you to know that these feelings are absolutely normal and you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel them at times. An injury can come with much uncertainty at times and you may have questions such as will I play again like I used to?
- Will my team be ok without me?
- Will my coaches and classmates be upset with me?
- Will my parents think I’ve failed them somehow?
As a student-athlete you have unique stresses and expectations that you are “trained” to live up to and be the example.
You are expected to maintain a certain grade point average or else you don’t play, show up and give 110% to practice daily even when your exhausted, come home and complete your homework and chores, participate in volunteer and fundraising events and be a “model” citizen among your peers even when you don’t feel like it.
These unique stressors combined with an injury may trigger a psychological concern. Some of these psychological concerns may include, extreme sadness, isolation, irritation, anxiety, lack of motivation, sleep disturbance, changes in appetite and even suicidal ideation.
In order to avoid these psychological concerns it’s important to follow these steps:
- EXPRESS your honest feelings with someone who is supportive and that you can trust. Be open to talking to a counselor who can provide that support and safety.
- DO WHAT YOU CAN DO! This may mean continue to show up for practice if your injury permits and work on the body parts that are not injured. Attend the games and support your team. Take this time to “study” your sport and learn more about the details of your position so you can come back better than ever!
- STAY ENGAGED with school assignments, activities with your friends and time with your family.
- ASK QUESTIONS and gather information about your injury from treating physicians and trainers to help minimize your uncertainty about your recovery.
- COMMITT to the rehab process and use your mental toughness you use on the field to get through difficult or painful days.
- MAKE HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES to help aid the body’s natural healing process and to maintain your fitness.
- ASK FOR HELP. There’s no shame in that, but strength and courage to do so.
About the Author
Porsha is on the Board of Advisers for the Professional Sports Wives Association, and specializes in working with pro athletes and their families.
Porsha specializes in working with individuals, couples and families experiencing anxiety, grief, depression, major conflict, infidelity, divorce, parenting, career counseling, interracial relationship and blended families.