Playing with an injury

Picture courtesy — Unsplash

Far removed from the sporting arena, what does the word injury mean to those who of us who don’t play a sport for a living?

Wicketkeeper Wridhimman Saha is making a comeback to the Indian side after a long layoff due to injury. After MS Dhoni’s retirement from test cricket, it seemed as if Saha had no immediate competition when it came to keeping in test cricket. In the time that he has been away from the game, a young Rishab Pant has already made rapid strides in the game, such is the competition in international cricket.

Injuries are part and parcel of a sportsperson’s life and have ended many careers prematurely.

Today, there is a lot of science that goes into workload and injury management. Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for a player to hide an injury as they were afraid of losing their place in the playing XI. This can be disastrous.

To understand how injuries can affect a team, let’s take a real-life example from the Indian cricket team itself.

After India’s historic and triumphant World Cup win in 2011, the players played the IPL which began just six days after the World Cup ended. After the IPL, in June, they toured England as the No.1 Test side.

Back then, Zaheer Khan was the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack and he didn’t have the luxury, as the team has now, of having two or three good pacers who could attack the opposition in tandem. Zaheer Khan’s tour ended in the 14th over of the first test match he played due to a hamstring injury.

RP Singh, who initially showed a lot of promise as a medium pacer at the start of his career and then disappeared from the radar of Indian cricket itself was holidaying in Miami when he got a call — to join the Indian cricket team in England. He hadn’t played a test match in nearly two years and looked the part of an unfit player. He bowled terribly and on-air, Sir Ian Botham called his first over ‘the over ever bowled in test match cricket’. Incidentally, it was also the last time he featured in a test match for India.

The trainwreck didn’t end there.

Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, all suffered injuries and returned home early. Even Sachin Tendulkar didn’t play all the matches in the limited-overs series and out of desperation, the team recalled Rahul Dravid when he hadn’t been in the scheme of things in limited-overs cricket for nearly two years at that point.

The series was an unmitigated disaster. India lost the test series 0–4 and didn’t win a single match in the ODI series. After the series, it became apparent that barring a few players, the side that had toured England wasn’t fully fit physically or mentally. They came to the tour on the back of a World Cup win that had taken every ounce of energy out of them and then played the IPL with hardly any break in-between.

If anything, the series showed the importance of injury, fatigue and player management.

When a player chooses to hide an injury or play with one, it can have massive repercussions.

  • They can play and aggravate the injury, causing it to become more severe.
  • They can get the hopes of the team up by saying they’re fit but let them down and break their trust when they hobble off the field in pain, their injury obvious for everyone to see.

We think of injury only as physical — something that causes us physical pain and can be rectified with physical therapy, rehabilitation, medication and rest.

Now, ask yourself — Are you playing with an injury? Is your team playing with injuries?

Far removed from the sporting arena, what does the word injury mean to those who of us who don’t play a sport for a living?

A bad work-experience that is still troubling you is an injury

A troubling leadership experience that is affecting the way you lead is an injury.

A team in disarray is an injury.

A toxic atmosphere is an injury.

Being undermined is an injury.

In other words, anything that is affecting your performance and hurting you in some way is an injury.

When you look at it this way, you will very clearly be able to differentiate happy and successful teams and people from the not-so-happy and successful ones. You will also be able to identify the times when you were playing with minimal injury and the times when you were pushing yourself to perform with an injury that needed to be addressed.

When a person or a group of people is lugging around a cartload of mental cache, anger, distrust, and fear, it is near impossible for them to put up a good performance. Even if they manage to cobble together a performance, the toll all these unaddressed issues takes on them will eventually boil over and affect them.

Just like a sportsperson, we can never be totally injury-free.

Yet, not addressing issues that are holding us back will only hinder our performance.

The sooner you address something that has been hurting you, find a way around it and deal with it, the quicker you can get back to being match-fit.

UI and digital Writer. Amateur runner and yogi. Future podcaster and author.

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