By: Meg Richardson, MyHuddle™ Athletic Counseling Intern
Being injured is challenging and can be difficult to navigate as you learn how to adjust to the beginning of the rehabilitation process and ease back into sport participation. When experiencing a sports injury, it is important to have people in your corner to help you navigate your injury, and help you get back to playing (Brewer, 2007). Some examples of people that can support you through this time are friends and family, doctors, teammates, and your coach (Brewer, 2007).
However, we often hear athletes report that it can be difficult to know how to speak to their coach. Talking to your coach about an injury can sometimes be nerve-wracking as athletes always want to be healthy to compete and contribute to the team’s progress. While speaking with your coach about your injury can be difficult, it is important to do so that you both are on the same page with the extent of the injury and the return to play timeline. So, here are five tips to help you approach the conversation to be productive and successful for both parties involved.
Be confident with your body language: When having a conversation, it is essential to possess confidence within your body language. When speaking with your coach, try not to close yourself off. For example, try not to slouch, have your arms crossed, or look down towards the ground when speaking. Instead, try to have a good, open posture when speaking with them.
Use I Statements: I statements are a great way to communicate how you feel with others, especially with a coach. If there have been things going on at practice or with your injury that you want to try to communicate with your coach, try your best to phrase it using I statements. I statements are phrases that you can explain how you feel without placing blame on others. For example, instead of saying, “you said x,y,z, and it made me upset,” try phrasing it like “I have felt upset when x,y,z happens.” The use of I statements is a great way to communicate confidence while also making sure that both people are heard and understood when having a conversation.
Actively Listen: When having a conversation with a coach about an injury, it is essential to actively listen to what they are saying to best explain where you are coming from and where you are at within your injury timeline. By actively listening, it can help minimize any miscommunication and allow you to try to answer all of their questions.
Be Vulnerable and Honest: At the end of the day, a coach is there to support you in your sports journey and help you grow both as an athlete and a person. It is important to be vulnerable and honest with them about how you feel about your injury to best help you when you attend practices and games. Being honest and vulnerable with your coach about how you are physically and mentally feeling with your injury can help the two of you develop a plan to help you still play an active role within your team while returning to play.
Brewer, B. W. (2007). Psychology of sport injury rehabilitation. In G. Tenenbaum & R. C. Eklund (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (pp. 404–424). John Wiley & Sons, Inc..