In sports athletes and coaches are always thinking of ways of getting ahead of the competition. Same can be said about the medical side of sports. Athletic trainers are always looking into alternative ways of helping athletes recover quicker from major injuries such as an ACL tear.
Jamie, the star center of the volleyball team tore her ACL and needs to come back stronger than before so she can help her team win nationals. As her athletic trainer, I need to come up with routines to help her do just that. I have chosen to use attentional control and goal setting techniques.
As mentioned in the reading, goals are very common in sports, but they are equally common within the rehabilitation realm. Having torn my ACL and going through the rehabilitation process, I have first-hand knowledge of setting goals for my recovery. Upon meeting Jamie I would run her through various exercises to see where she is at physically. Once completed, I would ask her what she hopes to get out of the rehab process and then together; formulate goals and exercise stages in which we would complete and like to be at during her 8 weeks with me. Goal setting also provides motivation for the athlete to get through the rehabilitation session, even through the difficult times. (Thelwell, 2008, p.48) I used this technique during my rehabilitation so that I could focus on short-term goals rather than the big picture/entire process. This helped me not to feel overwhelmed by the long recovery process and will help Jamie as well. Goals are complex and should push athletes to their limits without feeling impossible. The goals that I would set for Jamie would be certain exercises from basic biking, to strength training, to balancing exercises. Goals should act as stairs towards the ultimate goal of playing volleyball again and winning nationals. Each goal, once attained should allow Jamie to have enough physical strength and coordination to attain the next goal, and so on until full recovery. But attaining goals aren’t always easy to do, and that is why I would use attentional control to assist the goal setting process.
I would utilize the association technique for Jamie’s recovery process. Associative strategy would have Jamie focus on each exercise, each muscle being used and to help her monitor her level of exertion so that she wouldn’t overextend herself to the point of doing more harm than good. (Gill, 2008) This is a good technique because she would be internally focuses, in tune with her body and better understand what needs to be done in order to complete her goals. Many runners use associative strategies to help improve endurance and focus, and I believe that this strategy would benefit Jamie’s endurance by focusing her on completing each exercise and motivating her to give it her all. It would be my job to make sure that she understands the three attentional categories. Attentional selectivity to help her understand what cues to focus on, thus helping her get the most out of each exercise. Attentional capacity to make sure she isn’t overloaded with information that may cause her to lose focus; and finally attentional alertness to make sure she is ready and receptive to these cues.
In conclusion, using cognitive skills in sports and for recovering from injuries is very beneficial and widely used. I have seen first-hand its positive benefits and how it helps focus someone on the task at hand. (Recovering from and ACL tear)
Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.) Champaign, IL:
Thelwell, R.C., Weston, N.J., Greenlees, I.A., & Hutchings, N.V. (2008). A qualitative exploration of
psychological-skills use in coaches. The Sports Psychologist, 22, 38-53.