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Injury is an Opportunity

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Working with athletes as an exercise physiologist and strength and conditioning coach I see my fair share of injuries and become in part responsible for guiding the return to sport rehabilitation process.

“When we are faced with an obstacle on our path, the obstacle becomes the path. Every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Ryan Holiday

There is no escaping the fact that getting injured sucks! This can be a trying time in an athlete’s life and whilst it is normal to run through a range of different emotions, it is important not to dwell on these for too long. If individuals take on an injury mindset it can cause them to catastrophize their situation and focus on all the things that can’t be done. This leads them to focus on the body parts that are broken, leading to feelings helplessness and poor expectations of the process.

Instead of thinking poor me, why did this happen to me? It is a critical time to take on a Recovery Mindset. This means accepting where they are, focusing on the strength and resilience of the body and taking ownership over the rehabilitation process viewing it as an opportunity to come back as a better athlete.

The focus needs to be on all the things that still can be done and the return to sport program should be built around this. For example, if they have injured their knee, maybe it is time to improve upper body strength; they break their arm? They still have another arm, core and 2 legs to train, this could also be the perfect opportunity to improve their aerobic capacity and body composition as part of their re-conditioning.

Here are 4 reasons injury is an opportunity:

  1. Work on why they were injured in the first place and prevent further injury

  2. Destroy weaknesses to come back as a better all-round athlete

  3. Develop skill and tactical mastery for their sport

  4. Build mental toughness and resilience that crosses over into all aspects of life


I want to give credit where credit is due for those that have been pivotal for helping me formulate my ideas of using Injury Rehab as an Opportunity. I first came across this concept from Bill Knowles and David Joyce in his book High Performance Training for Sports, I have then heard it again discussed by Paul Devlin from the Brisbane Bronoco’s during his podcast with Robert Pacey - from Pacey Performance. However the main influence who got me to think outside the square with rehabilitation and view it as an opportunity was Rohan Smith when working with him at Norths Devils.

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After a couple of back to back injuries I’ve been ready to throw in the towel entirely. What you’ve written about, particularly regarding the mental barriers, I’ve strongly identified with. You’ve provided the catalyst I need to strip things back to scratch and rebuild in the right way. Keep it up, and I’ll do the same.

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