Have you ever been hurt doing something and the next time you tried to do it you were scared or hesitant? Imagine being a highly paid athlete coming back from a big injury and having to run full speed or stop on the dime and make a cut. They may all look good physically, but mentally they are scared. Obviously they are scared to get
reinjured. Fear of re-injury, anxiety, and lack of confidence in their ability are all things injured athletes struggle with. When an athlete triggers their stress response, it makes it more likely for them to get reinjured.
A prime example of a player being ready to play physically but not mentally is Derrick Rose, point guard for the Chicago Bulls. Rose tore his ACL in the 2012 NBA season and didn’t return in the 2013 season because “he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.” Rose wasn’t confident in jumping off of his injured knee, thus
setting his recover back a little further. The 2014 Chicago Bulls have played in 25 games this season, Derrick Rose has played in only 9 of them after having to deal with a sprain in both ankles. This goes alone with the cycle shown above, Rose is either tense, stiff, or tentative after his serious injury thus making the rest of his body susceptible for injury.
Of course this doesn’t happen with every athlete coming off an injury, for example, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Pererson went above and beyond his expectations after coming off an ACL tear. Peterson was hurt in the 2011 NFL season and came back within 8 months (the average recovery time is a full year) and in the 2012 season he won the NFL Most Valuable Player award and came up 9 yards short of the rushing record in a season. I knew that Adrian Peterson was ready mentally when he responded with “This is something that I had planned out months ago. I knew I wanted to come into this season and have an impact. I wanted to help my team. I’m not surprised by what I’ve done. I expected it the whole time, and I think that’s the reason it’s happening.” after being asked about his season. If every athlete would have this kind of mindset and mental toughness through an injury, who knows maybe they can be the next Adrian Peterson.