Updated: Apr 10
We all experience adversity throughout our lives and at different times in our sports careers. As a senior in high school getting ready for my final year of volleyball in preparation to play in college, I underwent knee surgery for a torn meniscus and spent the first half of my senior season rehabbing. It was such a difficult time for me to watch my teammates play, have fun, and win games while I was sitting on the sideline or working with the athletic trainer.
I was able to return to play with a few games left and managed to snag a division III school that wanted me to play for them. But, again, I faced a setback when I underwent knee surgery for my other knee during my summer training before my freshman year of college. Talk about depressing times! I worked hard with my physical therapist and the athletic trainer once I moved on campus and was able to return to play mid-way through the season.
During my rehabilitation times I felt so secluded and struggled with my emotions as I was new to the college and didn’t know anyone. My teammates were busy practicing and doing team bonding. I remember calling my mom crying because I felt so alone and I wondered if I had made the right decision to leave Ohio to venture out on my own. My mom reassured me that I was where I needed to be and that things would get better. I spent a lot of time praying and talking with friends, family, and teammates to get through that tough time.
Just when I thought things were getting better, I managed to need a 3rd knee surgery due to a possible ACL tear. Talk about frustrating! I realized after this surgery that I couldn’t put my knees through that any longer and retired from my collegiate career. I also transferred schools to start over again and played intramurals my last 2 years of college.
I learned a lot through those times of adversity and I was made stronger by what I endured and learned along the way. Let’s discuss some ways that you can manage through times of adversity.
“The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure” - Nike
I think some people feel like life should always be roses and butterflies and when adversity comes their way, they don’t know how to handle it or work their way through it. When you think this way, it will be very challenging to make it through life without being depressed and falling behind in your athletic goals.
A huge part of working through tough times is your mindset. Knowing that adversity happens, life is tough, there are ups and downs, and we can make it through is the first step to working through adversity. Keep focused on what you can do to make the situation better. Involve people that you trust. Pray, journal, write it down.
There are so many ways to address times of adversity. The most important part is that you don’t let it get you down. Realize that everyone goes through these times and that life is not going to be perfect.
If you need someone to talk to about a struggle you are going through, I am a good listener and can understand from the perspective of someone that has been through setbacks in my sports career.
Do You Feel Like Your Body is Letting You Down?
Sometimes the adversity we face is the failure of our own bodies in times when we need them most. The story that I gave above of my 3 knee surgeries is an example of just that. My senior year of high school volleyball….surgery. My freshman year of collegiate volleyball…surgery. My sophomore year of collegiate volleyball…surgery.
After obtaining my doctorate in physical therapy and really starting to understand my own body, I realized that what my body probably needed during that time was proper training, off-season preparation, and rest.
Last week we discussed cross-training and the importance of off-season and pre-season training to prevent injuries. In high school, we did not focus on any of these aspects of training except for maybe a generic summer program that no one really did until the week before conditioning started. In college, we had somewhat of a pre-season where we met a few times a week to do strength training, mostly with weight machines, but there was never any work with technique, form, or conditioning to prepare our bodies for the level of activity we were about to ask of them.
The more that we take care of our bodies the better our bodies will perform. We can’t just focus on one aspect such as strengthening, and expect our bodies to be functioning at their highest level. If we make sure to strengthen, condition, provide our bodies with appropriate nutrition, drink enough water, focus on form and technique, and improve our endurance then our body will be better able to function and maneuver through any adversity we may experience.
Don’t let your body be a source of adversity by taking care of it from the start.
Do I Need to Rest?
When you feel beat down, like the adversity you are facing is too much to bear, maybe you need to take some time to rest. Sleep is when our bodies heal. Rest is when our brain gets time to take a break from all that we ask of it.
Oftentimes we get so busy training and getting through our daily tasks that we forget to take a break. There is nothing wrong with taking a day every week to rest, shut down the electronics, do some stretching, yoga, or meditation, read a book, or even binge watch a mindless show. Your body will thank you for the break and you will feel rejuvenated to take on the next day and any roadblocks that come your way.
Program rest into your training calendar and make sure you actually rest during those periods of time. Wake up the next morning ready to show that day who’s boss and train like a champion.
Are You Facing Adversity Now?
I’m not a counselor or psychologist by any means, but if you are facing any type of adversity right now that you aren’t sure how to manage through, or maybe it just has you down and you aren’t sure if you can keep playing your sport, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org! I can help you find the next best step for you to get through it and back to playing your best!
You can also join my Facebook group to see how other athletes are getting through difficult times or how you can manage adversity in all its many forms: Strength & Conditioning Performance for the Metro Atlanta Athlete, you can join by clicking here!