There are thousands of situations or issues coaches are presented with throughout the season. This article is focusing on dealing with an injured player. Unfortunately injuries are a part of sport. Nobody likes it. Nobody plans for it. Nobody asks for it. It happens. As a coach, how you deal with the injured player and the team can make a big difference in the continued development of your team.
Tips to consider when dealing your team has an injured player
- Make sure the injured player knows you are genuinely concerned about their injury. Coaches care for their players, so show it by letting them know you feel bad they have to go through this injury. A physical injury is tough enough, but the mental toll it takes on that injured player can be a grind. Empathy from the coach can help ease their mind while they are on track to getting healthy.
- Learn as much as you can about the player's injury. Visit with the player and even their parents to get all the information you can. Most likely the parents are the ones who are in contact with the doctors so you can get a report from a mom or dad about the extent of the injury.
- Help the player continue staying active in some manner during their injury. For example, if the injury is to the hand you can set up a stationary bike in the gym for them to help them stay in shape until they are healthy enough to play again.
- Keep the injured player informed on all team activities. Make sure they are still given all the information the healthy players are getting (bus departures, weight lifting sessions, practice times, etc).
- Make sure the injured player is continuing to be part of all new strategies and adjustments that are being made while they are not able to play. Keep them in the gym with the team during practice so they can learn right along with their teammates.
- Let your team know that the season will continue despite losing a player to injury. Sometimes the rest of the team goes into a funk when they learn that a player is injured and won't be able to participate for a while, or for the rest of the season. They feel bad because they see their injured teammate not only physically hurting, but also down in the dumps. The fact of the matter is that you are not going to cancel the season because someone got hurt. It's important for your team to understand this right away.
- Keep your team updated on the progress of the injured player. Talk to them and let them know the timeline of their return.
- Keep things as normal as possible. You have a job to do, and that is to coach your team. Losing a player to injury is something you don't want to ever happen, but it does. As the coach you need to keep your same general philosophies on dealing with your team. Depending on the impact the injured player has on your team you may have to change some X's and O's, but don't give your team a chance to even think for a second that your team can't continue to develop in a positive direction with the injured player.