Top Tips For Staying Motivated When You're Injured
When it feels like you live in the gym, it can be a massive shake to your motivation and confidence if you get knocked back with an injury. It might be a minor one that just needs a few days’ rest, or it might be something that requires some time off training and rehabilitation. We do a sport where we push our bodies to the limit, propelling our bodies into the air more than 50 times on an average afternoon. Having injuries every now and again, is, unfortunately part of the lifestyle. Here are our top tips in helping you stay motivated and getting the most out of your training sessions, because there is always something you can be doing to improve your gymnastics.
1. Communicate with your coach
If you are getting treatment from a professional for your injury, it is important that you communicate with your coach about what you can/can’t do and have a plan on what you are working towards. Talk through with your medical team (e.g. physiotherapist) when they expect you to be able to start certain activities and discuss this timeline with your coach.
For example if you have a wrist injury, the goal which you have planned with your physio might be “to be able to swing on bars in 2 weeks”. Talk to your coach so they can prepare and plan for you accordingly. Open communication is key in your gymnastics and the quicker you master this skill, the better!
2. Your friends are here to help
Going to practice when you know you cannot do an apparatus or are restricted to doing strength/conditioning can be super frustrating. Seeing your friends have fun while you isolate yourself in the corner doing your exercises, is not going to help your mental game! Even though you cannot get up on the beam, choose to do your exercises (where possible) close to the group and stay actively involved in the training session and conversations. Your friends are there to support you and having fun even when you are doing limited gymnastics training is so important in keeping a smile on your face and your motivation high.
3. Set goals
While some of your new skill/routine goals might be taking the backseat while you recover from this injury, refocus your attention into making gains in other areas. Having weekly goals will help you stay focused (good for the mind). When you find yourself back at full training, you will have made improvements in other areas in which maybe you didn’t have time for or neglected in the past (good for the body). For example you could have a weekly goal for your flexibility. One week might be to get flat in splits and the next you want to be flat with your front foot raised on a small mat. Then when you get back into doing skills again, how much better are they going to look now that you have taken some time to work on your technique. You can apply this to strength exercises in the same way.
Has your coach ever told you to imagine doing your routine in your head? Does it ever feel, I don’t know, kind of pointless? Well it’s not! Visualization is an important tool in your gymnastics and should be used even more when you are injured. Closing your eyes and visualizing the skills in your mind helps to maintain and even improve your skills and muscle memory. Try standing/sitting on the apparatus (if possible) or even on the landing mat and imagining yourself executing your routines/skills perfectly. Do this every day you are in the gym on each apparatus. We often focus solely on the body when we are training, but it is important to also train the mind and build up our mental strength.
5. Do fun things outside of Gymnastics
Sometimes to find the fun in the gym, we need to have some fun outside of the gym. We constantly work hard every day, through blood, sweat and tears, to get us closer to achieving our goals. We go home exhausted and do it all again the next day. We find this extremely rewarding (some people may say “crazy”) and satisfying. But if our confidence or motivation is low, this can be tough.
Make plans with your friends for the weekend, see a movie with your parents or siblings, take the dog to the beach, start a scrapbook or have a board game night. Whatever it is that you find enjoyment out of outside gymnastics, do it. When we have balance in our life, we are more likely to stick to our goals, feel confident and everything just seems a lot easier to manage! P.s. This tip goes for when you are injured or not!
Use this time to work on other parts of your physical and mental strength, find some new inspiration, set goals and keep working towards them. Because if you are moving forward in anyway, you are still moving towards your dreams.