Mental Health and Sport, Dealing with setbacks


I've been dealing with a few setbacks recently, mainly to do with injury and it's got me thinking about my mental health. There is an obvious and undeniable correlation between lack of exercise and poor mental health, not for everyone mind you, but for the majority of people, I believe this is true. So what happens when you are active, finally through that motivational barrier and you get a setback? It could be anything, personal issues, injury, work, you name it, it can get in the way. Well, let's chat it through, because I've got a lot of experience with this.

When I was around 16 I was offered an opportunity to fight for a Junior Welsh Title, I couldn't believe it, I was so happy and grateful that I was going to get a chance to win a belt, and I thought I was going to look so cool in front of my friends, they'd all ask to hold it and take photos wearing it, they call me a legend and I'd never buy a drink again. Unfortunately for me, I was 16, and making sensible decisions wasn't something I had mastered quite yet, for example, I argued stupidly that you could jump out of a car at 10mph and be totally fine, here's a little coaches tip for anyone who has managed to read this far, you can't, they make it look easy in the films but it's really awkward and you have to avoid the door which turns you around and then you smash your arm into the concrete at PC World car park and all that stuff you imagined all of a sudden disappears.

I was devastated, this opportunity I had slipped through my hands, and I'd broken my hand and more importantly the scaphoid bone in my wrist, something that still bothers me 15 years later. Like any 16 year old would I sulked about it, hand in a cast for a couple of weeks, to me the whole world was over. Then one day I decided I could put up with the pain of swinging my arm around and went to play football, instantly I felt better, just being able to do something active helped me tremendously, I remember annoying my friends wanting to go and play every day because it was the only thing I could do, and all of a sudden I spent a summer just getting better at a different sport. What I couldn't see at the time was that this thing that was stopping me from being able to Kickbox, didn't hamper or affect every area of my life, and setbacks rarely do.

Recently I have been dealing with an issue called Chostocondritis, it's where the cartilage in the chest, between the rib bones, swells up and is super painful. It really knocked me for six for about a week where I could barely sleep, and coaching became very difficult, I found myself back in my competition days pushing through injury to get to the end of a camp, except now, there is no end to camp, I am the camp, people rely on my ability to be able to coach and without it, everything finishes. Heavy right? Well, I remembered back to when I was 16 and jumped out of a car like an idiot, and how it took me weeks to realize that it didn't affect my legs, and I decided that I would use this opportunity to find out what other areas of coaching I could concentrate one instead, for example, pad work is currently out of the window, swapping for sticks and targets, this means I'm coaching the boxing side of things slightly differently, getting back to the bag and seeing techniques thrown from different angles has meant that I have noticed mistakes I was making as a coach. The point ultimately is, every setback, every injury, redundancy, bereavement, mental health episode has some form, no matter how small, of silver lining to it, it's about unlocking it through positivity and being open to learning how to approach situations openly. It's so easy to get trapped in the way we do things, sometimes it's simply better to ride the wave and see some new fish.

Peace, love, and hard work.


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