The Struggle of Being an Injured Athlete

Injuries are a prevalent part of competing in any sport, but many fail to realize the struggles of returning to the player you once were. It is said that a serious injury can either make you or break you, and it all depends on the road to recovery.

For many athletes, a career ending injury can be quite traumatic. It’s difficult to move on from a sport that you just aren’t ready to give up. This struggle takes time and effort to fill the void of something you’ve lost.

Some athletes are fortunate enough to return to their sport after surgery, therapy, or rehab – but that’s just the beginning. Being forced to the bench to watch your team adapt to a lost player is painful. Knowing that your team is trying to function without you and there’s nothing you can do to help can be especially difficult for an athlete. The impact you made as a player is no longer there. For a couple months, you are forced to be the team’s personal mascot, cheering them on and supporting them even when they’re traveling and you’re stuck at home.

There’s something about being disconnected from the team while injured that makes you grateful for what you once had. Workouts all of a sudden don’t feel like a burden because you would do anything to be able to workout again. Practice doesn’t seem like such a struggle because you would kill to be able to make the play that someone else couldn’t. But what hurts the most is seeing someone else take the spot that used to be yours.

The modified workouts and rehab hours spent in training room are a mental game. It is necessary to get better, but you’d rather be with the team. The months until you’re healed go by slowly and it almost becomes a waiting game. Once you are cleared – that’s when the real fun begins. Eager to be back on the field, any athlete is ready to test their limits and see if they can return as half the athlete they once were. If they’re lucky enough, some athletes may even come back faster and stronger than ever.

Being injured and going through the recovery is a test of faith and determination. The positive and supportive mindset is important to be able to have a successful recuperation. And for athletes who have been there before, you are not alone and there are others who have struggled down the same road.

*Section Photo credit to Curtis Compton, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Featured Photo (above) credit to Bill Wippert, The Associated Press.

UNC’s Dean Smith Passes Away
UNC’s Dean Smith Passes Away