Getting In The Zone: How To Move Forward While Recovering From Injuries


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Doc Ali’s Tight Mind Monday 6-26-17: Recovering From Injury

Many people have asked me, “what’s the most difficult aspect of being a mental toughness coach?” Definitely one of the top things on my list is dealing with injuries. I know coping with injuries is hard for coaches and athletes alike. So this Tight Mind Monday will give you some tips on how to make the time off a little more bearable and keep moving forward!  

Your Tight Mind Tips for dealing with injury all start with the letter “P.” Use these tips to find a silver lining in what might seem like a stormy time in your gymnastics.

Stay Positive!

Anger is normal. Grief is normal. But after the negative feelings dissipate try to find some sort of gift or lesson during this difficult time. Maybe you can work basics and shapes while you are healing. Or maybe you have an upper body injury, so you can work your legs until they are super fast and strong! Notice small improvements and positive steps every day. Keep a journal and after every workout write three things that are going to make you better in the long run.  

Stay Productive!

There is nothing more crazy-making to a gymnast than feeling non-productive. Boredom is agony to a gymnast. Even while you are injured match the assignments of your teammates by doing arm-sets, walk-throughs, and visualizations. Remember, your body banks every arm-set as the actual skill so be sure to get your numbers in! If a teammate gets a correction that could have been something for you, do ten arm sets of that correction saying the key word inside your head. When you do walk-throughs, and arm-sets really feeling your skills, they come back that much faster when you are able to do more physically.  

Stay Passionate!

Never forget your goals. Your goals will keep you moving forward on even the most frustrating days. Keep your goals present by creating a vision board. A vision board is a large piece of poster board or paper on which you glue words, and pictures of your goals for when you are healthy. Cut out words that keep you motivated, and positive. Your vision board is something you can turn during hard times. Even when you forget why you are pushing through this injury in the first place! Hang it where you can see it every day. Take a picture of it and keep it on your phone to remind you that everyday you are still moving forward.  

Injuries are a test of faith. They make you question yourself, and maybe even why you do gymnastics. But, injuries can also make us stronger and more mentally tough. Use your time off to take steps forward that will fuel you toward your goals next season.  

Alison Arnold Ph.D. has been a mental toughness consultant to USA Gymnastics since 1997. For more information of Doc Ali and her on-line bootcamps, click here.