The fun part of having kids in sports is watching them play and succeed–score a goal, hit a home run, catch a touchdown pass, make a three-point basket. One of the not-so-fun parts is sports injuries. If your child plays sports for any length of time, injuries will happen. They’re an inevitable part of an athlete’s life. Getting a diagnosis and treatment for the injury is easy; the hard part comes in the days/weeks/months of recovery that follow. What can your child do to make the most of this frustrating time?
Be a fan
Encourage your child to be a cheerleader on the bench and show support for teammates. Even when injured, your athlete is a part of the team and should attend practices (unless the injury has put them out for the entire season) and games. If they hope to come back and play during the season, an apathetic attitude will not further their cause.
Be consistent with therapy
Ice, exercise, elevate or brace–whatever the therapist has ordered. After the first couple of days, it’s easy to forget, especially when the injury is feels better, but is not fully healed. Your child should know that the more faithful he is about treating their injury, the quicker he will recover. And even though you think you know better, listen to the doctor.
If your athlete starts playing before he’s been released, he risks re-injury. Is it worth the gamble?
If your child is injured and cannot play or practice for a while, she should not expect to return to her previous level of play at the first week of practice. She’s been out; she is rusty, she may have fallen behind teammates who have been practicing daily. It takes time to get back into shape and when your child is on the varsity level, getting back to speed is hard.
Athletes must work hard, be persistent, have patience, and understand that injuries result in more than broken bones, pulled muscles, and twisted ankles; they result in playing setbacks that take time to overcome.
Even the professionals go through extensive rehab and practice before they hit the field or court in real-time. We’ve run the gamut of injuries in our household, from a broken arm during soccer to a tweaked ankle during volleyball to an emergency appendectomy that ended my son’s senior football season as quarterback. But in each case, we helped our kids see that being out of commission from something they loved was not the end of the world.
They would be back. Let your athlete vent his frustration, but remind him that he will heal and play again, even if it’s not this season. While playing a sport teaches our kids life-lessons, so does being injured. Patience, perseverance, selflessness–these character traits can not only be developed on the court and field, but on the bench as well.