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Injury Can Be Your Friend

Lyndsey Seewald is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Sport & Performance Psychology Masters Program. Now she is a coach for a private collegiate basketball team, where she works with athletes to increase their mental and physical resilience during injury recovery and helps them develop techniques to overcome obstacles both on the court and in life.


Points per game – 20.9; Assists per game – 3.5; Steals per game – 2.8; possible All-American. Then…SNAP. The hype of a 5’3” sophomore becoming the league MVP stopped dead in its tracks along with her visions and goals.

Days until surgery – 20; Months spent crutching around campus – 3; Years she ‘may’ play basketball again – 2. How do I know these numbers? This is my story.

My injury brought me to sport psychology, which helped me become a stronger, more resilient human being. Imagine for a second if people with injuries could be stronger, more resilient human beings after their injury.

Unfortunately, injuries cause tension, hostility, confusion, and anxiety (Leddy, Lambert, & Ogles, 1994). Trust me…those feelings arise at some point or another whether one likes to admit or not. Numerous mental skills, without knowing, allowed me to change my injury to positive life change. Imagery was the most impactful. Do not think I ran through one imagery script and I was cured. That would be completely wrong!

Just as with the physical aspects of rehab, the mental part takes time and repetition. I learned that imagery had to include:

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  • Details
  • Specificity (i.e., position scenarios)
  • All five senses
  • Personal meaning to me
  • After numerous sessions, I began to see open players on the floor, appropriate play calls, and last second decisions during actual games. Imagery became part of my daily routine during physical rehab.

    My senior year I exceeded those numbers previously mentioned, but most importantly, I found an area to study in graduate school that allowed for me to understand the emotional aspects of injury. As a basketball coach, I will pass on to my athletes that injuries are not the enemy.

    Injury has an evil aura, sport psychology says, “Why not make it your friend?”.

    Check back next time when I will discuss the specifics of how to create a great mental imagery routine.


    Geier, D. (2011, August 3). Sobering statistics about youth sports and injuries. The Post and Courier. Retrieved from

    Leddy, M., Lambert, M., & Ogles, B. (1994). Psychological consequences of athletic injury
    among high-level competitors. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 65(4), 347-354. Retrieved from

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