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Injury and recovery – how can we best support as a parent?

Let’s be honest, being injured and going through recovery is a nightmare time for children and parents!
It can be extremely challenging and frustrating, particularly if sport makes up such a large part of our normal routines.

Whilst everybody’s experience of injury and rehabilitation will be different it is undoubtedly a time for some key conversations, plenty of support and encouragement from us as parents, as well as patience from all parties.

So what can we do to help support our children through the initial stages of injury, recovery and plan a positive route ahead.

Give them time to process and come to terms with the injury
As parents we need to try and be as supportive and objective as we possibly can whilst giving our children the space to get used to their injury. Some will get through this stage quicker than others, but children will need time to process what the injury may mean for them in the short term.

Encourage other activities away from the sport
For children who are heavily committed to a sport and perhaps miss out on other activities and social time with friends due to their normal commitments, this is a really good time for them to reconnect and recognise they are far more than just an athlete.

Although, we should be reinforcing this on a regular basis whether injured or not, this gives us an opportunity to really bring this into focus. Encouraging them to get out of the house and joining in things socially with friends will do wonders for their morale.

Give them as much information as you can
Uncertainty can cause anxiety and our children will certainly have questions that will need answering. Seek support from experts who will be able to help you with the following.

• How long am I injured for?
• When will I be able to start doing something to get back participating?
• What will that look like for me?
• Will I make a full recovery?

Every case will be different, but we do need to be honest, focus on providing some clarity and help put a plan in place with our children to help map out the next stages, with a real focus being on things that they are able to control.

Identify other areas of their sport they can focus on during their recovery
Whilst our children are unlikely to be able to participate in too much physical and technical work during the early stages of recovery, there may be opportunities for them still to help out at their club, support players and their coach whilst also spending time working on some of the tactical and mental aspects of their performance, something which sometimes can be neglected during normal routines.

Speak to your child’s coach and work together on putting together a productive plan.

Celebrate any progress that is made
Morale can often be low during recovery so try to make sure that we are celebrating any positive signs of progress, no matter how small those steps may be. We all like to feel that we are making progress and regular positivity will help keep our children going, particularly as motivation can often wane for the recovery process if results are not as fast as expected.

Injury can strike at any time, often at the worst possible times but it is something that all children and parents will have to go through at some point. Whilst there will be other things that you will be able to do not listed above, we hope that this gives you a few pointers to get you started.

• Gordon MacLelland is the CEO and founder of Working with Parents in Sport, which supports parents and coaches in working together to provide children with the best possible sporting experiences. To find out more about their work please visit



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