Recovery from a sports related injury is 50% physical and 50% psychological. If an athletic does the physical rehabilitation, and fails to do the psychological rehabilitation, he will not return to his prior level of performance. In fact, his performance will decrease, and his chance of re-injury escalates. Careers have been shortened, teams have lost games, and athletes have failed to play at their potential because athletes have not done the appropriate psychological recovery. There is plenty of information on the physical recovery from an injury, yet very little information on the psychological recovery. This article will give you the 4 keys to a successful psychological recovery.

Key #1: Use Your Mind to Visualize a Full Recovery

It is an established fact that performance begins in the mind, and the body seeks to follow. Athletes have been taught to visualize their performance in their mind’s eye. The same principle works with a recovery from injury. See your injury totally healed in your mind’s eye. Visualize yourself performing free from pain, strong and more efficient than ever. I have worked with athletes whose recovery time has been cut in half due to constantly visualizing a healthy and agile performance, regardless of their present condition. The athlete needs to imagine where he wants to be, not where he is in the present.

Key #2: Be the Master of your own Recovery

We have an inherent ability to understand our body better than anyone else, including doctors. Don’t misunderstand me; every injury needs an expert professional to give his expert opinion, yet the athlete needs to be the captain of his recovery. Many athletes give their power away when a doctor gives his opinion, yet the athletes that have made miraculous recoveries let the opinion of the doctor meet the judgment of their own conscience. Books are filled with stories of athletes who were told that they would never be able to perform again, and these athletes came back with performances better than pre-injury. The athlete must listen to his body; yet remind him that his mind is the captain of the body, and not the other way around.

Key #3: Keep your Desire at a Fever Pitch

Athletics is a battle of desire, and so is the recovery from an injury. The physical world is a result of the desires and fears of the mental world. Keep you mind and imagination on a full recovery, and don’t let up for one second. Add logs to the fire of your desire to be 100% recovered by thinking about it, speaking it, and refusing to let in anything contrary to your desire. When you have a fever, you are hot, and your body is fighting off an enemy. When you keep your desire at a fever pitch, you keep your vision hot, your imagination of a full recovery in the oven, fighting off anything that is battling against you.

Key #4: Focus on your Desire and not your Fear

There is a huge gulf between theses two attitudes, the desire to do well, and the fear of not doing well. There is the same difference between playing to perform at you best, and playing not to get hurt again. The first is motivated by your desire to gain something; the second is motivated by your fear of losing something. If you play afraid of being hurt again, your chances of re-injury skyrocket. I have worked with athletes who get injured over and over because they can’t escape the fear of getting hurt again. Imagine that these two attitudes are in your field of vision. Focus on the desire, and let the fear fade away out of site. If you can shift your attention to your desire and your love of the game, it will cast out the fear of re-injury.

Put these four keys into action, while you a doing your physical rehabilitation, and I promise that you will recover 100% psychological. A full recovery will make you a better athlete, and will help you perform at your highest level.

Author's Bio: 

Dean Sunseri, MA, MEd, is a specialist in Sports Performance Counseling and has coached amateur and professional athletes including Golf Tour Professionals, NFL Football Players, Professional Baseball Players and Professional Hockey Teams. He can be contacted at