Unfortunately, getting injured is an inevitable part of sports and competing. Because we are exerting our bodies and pushing our physicality to the extremes, sometimes our bodies can’t handle the pressure. Or, even worse, we get injured because of bad form, we clash with another athlete, or just a random accident. A lot of the times we don’t have control over the cause of the injury – that’s why it’s so difficult for us to recover from the injury. We don’t understand why it happened and then we get frustrated because we feel like we’re missing opportunities or falling behind our teammates and competitors. Recovering from injuries is a commitment that you have to be fully prepared for – but there are also a lot of ways that you can improve yourself while injured. Even though you can’t practice your sport physically, we’re going to tell you 10 things you can still improve on!

1. Improve nutrition. This is a great time for you to improve your nutrition because you can put a lot of effort into it. You can transfer the effort that you would’ve put into practice into improving your nutrition instead. This is also going to be helpful for when you are able to play your sport again! It might take awhile to get your skill level to exactly where it was before you got injured, but if you have a really healthy body while trying to improve yourself, it’s going to make the transition easier!

2. Have better sleep habits. It’s always a good idea to have better sleep habits! And recovering from an injury is a good time to commit to improving your sleep habits! Plus, it’s going to increase your overall health as well, which will help you while recovering. You should aim for around 8 hours of sleep a night – this is optimal for feeling rested while also giving you enough time during the day to accomplish what you need to!

3. Mindset training. We will always suggest participating in mindset training because it gives you an extra edge and understanding of your sport and your intentions for your sport. You might have extra time on your hands because of your injury, so a really good use of that time is to do mindset training! Plus, injuries can really affect us mentally even though they hurt us physically. There’s countless research about how injuries effect the mentality of athletes, so getting mindset training while you’re injured is a great way to ensure the injury affects you positively instead of negatively!

4. Video review. Watching videos is a good way to understand how a skill should be implemented, what you need to improve on, what you’re really succeeding with, how your opponents are expected to play, and a lot of other important information. Specifically, when you’re injured, your confidence or self-esteem might be a little lower than normal because you aren’t able to participate in your sport. So, watching a highlight video of yourself might help! Alternatively, watching videos of your previous competitions including the good and bad parts is a great idea too because you can make a checklist of what you need to improve on once you’ve returned to your sport!

5. Flexibility training. Being flexible is vital for your sport and your overall health as well. Being flexible means that it’s easier to use and move your body without the risk of being sore afterwards or sustaining an injury. So, increasing your flexibility as much as you can while being injured is another alternative use of your time. It’ll help decrease the risk of getting injured in the future. It also helps with other things like posture!

6. Reading. Dr. Seuss has a quote about reading that says, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” This could not be more accurate. Reading provides you with invaluable knowledge and is a great use of your time while your injured. It’s a rewarding activity to do that doesn’t require physically exertion. Plus, you can read about anything! Harry Potter books, mental training books, books about volleyball, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, autobiography’s, language books – the possibilities are endless! So find a topic you’re interested in and dive in!

7. Self-Reflection. This is a really useful activity that some of my coaches, college professors, and mentors have suggested to me personally. It allows you to contemplate yourself in a thoughtful, constructive way. What am I really succeeding at? What do I want to improve? How is my recovery coming along? Where do I stand with this whole injury debacle? These kinds of questions open up the conversation with yourself and can give you insight that you might not have before.

8. Active rest and recovery. We suggest actively doing rest and recovery because sometimes our bodies just need a break (mentally and physically) and we don’t do it often enough. Since our physicality is limited due to injuries, right now is great time to make an effort for rest and recovery. Basically, a “rest day” is limiting our physical exertion so that our body can get a break for a day. This results in our bodies getting the “recovery” that it needs. At first, it might feel like you’re being lazy. But just don’t do it excessively and you’ll do great!

9. Renewed excitement for your sport.  At times, our sport might seem like a chore or just another thing on our schedule for the day. Sometimes we get too comfortable with a routine and we forget why we started playing volleyball in the first place and why we still love it. While being injured is a great time to start appreciating volleyball again and recognizing why we still love the sport. You can look through old team photos, reconnect with old coaches and teammates, watch old film of yourself, or watch highlight videos on Youtube and aspire to be like those athletes.

10. Talk with coaches and mentors. Because you got injured, you might feel disconnected for your teammates and coaches. But I promise you, they’ll still want you as part of the team. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your coach about your recovery or your feelings because, chances are, they might have experienced an injury as well. Speaking with mentors is a good resource as well because they provide guidance, advice, or just a listening ear if you need it. These people are here for you, so reach out to them if you need to!

I hope you never get injured! But if you do, just remember that it’s going to be ok. Take advantage of this list to help you and focus on recovering!