I had a request to do a Mindset Monday on dealing with the mental side of injuries and the fear of re-injury. I thought it was a great topic so here we go!
With just about any sport injuries are going to happen. Some sports are a little more brutal than others and wrestling just happens to be one of those sports. Unfortunately if you wrestle long enough an injury is almost inevitable. Max wrote a couple weeks Training Tip #8- Staying Injury Free, which focused more on the physical side avoiding injury and creating good habits in practice. Mentally the best way to stay injury free in wrestling is to not over think and worry about it. If you are scared of getting hurt, you tend to wrestle timid which will lead to getting beat. The word “beat” explains a lot. Are you getting a beat down or taking a beating? Sounds kind of painful, so make sure you are delivering the beatings, which you can’t do if you are scared or wrestling to not get hurt. For example, if you’re doing all the taking down and not getting taken down the chances of you suffering an injury are less likely.
Like I said though, injuries are going to happen and you need to bounce back both physically and mentally. This can be a hard time because it’s difficult to see your friends and teammates wrestling while you are on the sideline. It also can make you feel distant from the team and no longer part of it, so it’s important to stay interactive with the team. Injuries are painful, and in no way fun, but a wrestler can still get better during this time off. For instance, if you hurt your knee, this could be a great time to spend more time in the weight room to concentrate on getting more upper body strength, or focus on stretching or doing yoga to improve your flexibility. Not only can you physically improve for when you return, but mentally you will feel better about yourself knowing you are improving in other areas. It’s not uncommon for a wrestler to come back even better than before an injury. In addition to coming back physically better, the mind can come back better as well being refreshed and anxious to get back on the mat.
The best way to deal with the fear of re-injury is to learn from the last injury. Reevaluate how the injury happened and be aware, but not scared or worried it could happen again. Injuries are sometimes uncontrollable and there is no point in worrying about something that in uncontrollable. Instead, focus on the things that you can control and you will enjoy wrestling more.