Sport is beautiful. Every person who participates in sport can confirm that. Hundreds of hours spent on being better than our yesterday’s version, tens of spectacular wins, many sad evenings after tough losses and several moments when in doubts according to our athletic future. Tennis has it all. Beautiful moments and depressing situations. One of the things than is included in all tennis players’ careers is injury. For some it is a catastrophe, for others it is a blessing.
Injury. Nightmare of many athletes. We know a lot of examples from the history of sport when injury was responsible for the end of promising career. We are also aware of numerous examples of people who become injured and didn’t achieve their potential.
The easiest example from tennis world is Rafael Nadal. Who knows what he could achieve if he couldn’t have serious problems with his feet and knees? Serena Williams is next. Accident with broken glass and hidden sickness were reasons why she had to stop her glorious career. Eugenie Bouchard? Slippery floor and serious problems that were dangerous not only for her athletic path but more importantly for her life. Looking at these examples we can see that all athletes are prone to get injured so it is important to know what to do when it happens to us.
You can do a lot to prevent injuries but you can’t be sure that you won’t get it. There are a lot of reasons why athletes have forced breaks. Some of the reasons are totally dependent on player’s actions while others can be categorized as „bad luck” situations. Learning from others’ accidents, analyzing own activities and thinking ahead are actions that serious players should consider to make own career injury-free as much as possible.
If you have car accident and the other driver is responsible for the crash there is nothing you can do about it. Just a bad luck. On the other hand if you run near the outdoor pool and you slip then injury is 100% your fault. That is why it is crucial to teach players how to be responsible for own actions and make them aware that one little moment of carelessness can ruin all the work and put your dreams on hold.
As the title of this article says injury can be catastrophe or blessing. It all depends on your approach. If you know how to deal with this situation and use this time to your advantage you will be thankful for that. Yes that’s true. A lot of people come stronger after injury and achieve much better results than before the break. On the other hand if all you do while being injured is to be sad and complain how unlucky you are I can guarantee that injury will be catastrophe that can make you closer to give up and end athletic career.
The ways to deal with injury as champions do:
1. Understand why you get injured
There are two types of injuries: chronic and acute. Chronic injuries happen over long period of time and are caused of many micro injuries. For example if you practice too many hours at the young age and your body is not strong enough to deal with these workloads after few years you can get injured. On the other hand if you run to the drop shot and your foot stops immediately during the run you can twist or even break your ankle.
That is a typical example of an acute injury. To make injury a blessing you have to understand the reason of your current situation and make conscious changes in the future. Experienced players learn from their injuries and change volume of practice sessions, eating habits or put more effort into fitness workouts to make sure that injury doesn’t happen again.
2. Improve others areas (not less important)
Competitive athletes don’t have much time for themselves. If they want to be the best they can they have to put a lot of work every day. Typical day for a serious tennis player looks like this:
Wake up – Breakfast – Morning tennis practice – Gym session – Lunch – 2-3 hours break – Afternoon tennis practice – Stretching session/Massage – Dinner – Bed time
It is not difficult to see that there is no much time left. That is why when player gets injured he has a lot of time to accommodate and it is necessary to use it effectively. We all know that tennis is a mental sport but still we don’t practice enough mental skills to improve our results and get advantage over opponents.
Few sets of visualization is a great move while not being able to hit balls for several days or weeks. Watching tennis matches is another example. A lot of juniors want to become professionals but they don’t learn from them. If you stay all day at your home make sure you watch tennis matches and take as many lessons from it as you can.
Recovery is as important as work. Many athletes and coaches forget about this. Tennis players have tough live because there is really no off-season for them. 12 months of constant rivalry make it possible only for 7-14 days of vacation to charge your battery and come back to the race for points.
When you get injured make sure you get some improvement but don’t do too much to yourself. Passive time is great for your body and mind to get some fresh feeling and come back after injury with double motivation and more positive approach.