On one of the first plays, in the first quarter of the very first game of the 2008 schedule, Patriot’s QB Tom Brady took a hit that tore his ACL and abruptly put an end to his season. BANG! In the blink of an eye! OVER ! KAPUT! This is how it always happens. One moment you’re fine and on top of the world, and the next, you’re out for the season. Call it chance, bad luck, a tough break or whatever. The fact remains that on and off the playing fields LIFE HAPPENS to us and we can’t do much of anything to stop it! Sometimes it can be surprising and totally wonderful. AND, at other times it can be traumatic and devastating. However, the one thing that we can always count on is the fact that we can’t count on anything. You just never know when life is going to blind-side you, throw you a curve ball or just simply pull the rug out from beneath your feet.
Knowing how unexpected and fragile our existence is might be cause for lesser mortals to simply pull up the covers and refuse to get out of bed in the morning. Of course, you can do this if you’d like. However, dropping out of the game before it has even started isn’t a very good way to play. Playing it safe, refusing to take risks and letting your life be ruled by your fears isn’t such a good way to play either. The fact remains that if you’re going to compete as an athlete, if you’re going to get out of bed in the morning, then you are always at risk of suffering some kind of injury or emotional upset. And there is no other dread out there for athletes quite as BIG and BAD as a season or career-ending injury!
Injuries are one of those massive UNCONTROLLABLES in our lives. We have no DIRECT control over them. Certainly there are things that we can do to prevent injuries. We can get into great shape, get enough sleep, eat right, stretch, make sure we give our bodies a chance to recover, use the proper technique, listen to our bodies so that we don’t push through the wrong kind of pain, etc. However, despite all of our best efforts, we still can’t prevent an injury from unexpectedly knocking at our door. Sooner or later, and usually at the least opportune time, you may get hurt.
However, worrying about when and if this will happen is not the way to go. You can’t begin to perform to your potential if you play tentatively. Peak performance is about taking risks and going for it! Fear of injury will handcuff you and steal your game. Ironically, if you are playing afraid to get injured, you are actually more likely to get injured! Your worry on the field means that you are probably playing physically tighter than you should be. Those tight muscles make you more vulnerable to pulls or tears. Instead you need to keep your eyes straight ahead. You need to focus in the moment on the action RIGHT NOW. What could happen is in the FUTURE and a HUGE, performance-disrupting distraction. Appreciate what your body can do! Celebrate your skills and talent. Feel grateful that you have been able to do what you can do….AND forget about the WHAT IF’S!