Fast-forward to the emergency room where his soccer coach happened to be the on-duty nurse. The x-rays were pulled up on the computer screen just out of my sightline, but I could tell by Kristof’s eyes...the way they moved to the floor...that it wasn’t good. We would have to wait for the experts to read the x-ray, so we sat in silence wondering for the next eternity or so.
When we got the official avulsion fracture diagnosis, we also received a preliminary timetable for recovery. Before I share, you should know Zak (my son) worked really really hard all summer. You should know his goal was to make the varsity roster of the basketball team. You should know he hung a varsity game jersey by his bed to help him practice purposeful visualization and to inspire him to follow through with his commitments. You should know he loves basketball more than pretty much anything.
They projected 4 months, and he should probably be good to go. He should be able to start playing basketball in January. He was devastated. I was devastated for him. My mind attempted to click to a growth mindset and tried to convince me that this was in his best interest and an opportunity for him to learn and grow, but I wasn’t quite buying it at that moment. I was caught up in the emotion of my son moving through a very challenging time that was affecting his dreams. But on the way to the parking lot to pull up the car, I was able to snap myself out of it. As his dad and his coach, I knew I had to paint a new outlook ASAP.
We were able to gingerly slide him in the car, pain meds active, with an immobilizing brace on his right leg. On the way home we talked about how most people would probably just feel bad for themselves, but the elite would know that this experience would make them stronger. He agreed, but I gave it a couple of days before we got to work.
Zak’s Mental Training Steps
He began using an basketball mental training app created by Joshua Medcalf of Train to be Clutch. The affirmations included a wellness component which he listened to multiple times each day.
Check out the app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mental-training-for-basketball/id522991011?mt=8
2. Reprogramming Self-Talk
I created a healing mp3 that included the self-talk needed to convince his brain to believe that he was a fast healer and loved the rehab process. We will have this on our website soon. It has been scientifically proven that our brain doesn’t care if we lie to it. In fact, it believes whatever we tell it the most, so we should take advantage. By listening to this mp3 3-4 times per day, Zak was reprogramming his brain that all these things were true.
3. Visualized Practice (with Practice Plans)
Zak went through at least one practice each day. With the advice from Rainer Meisterjahn (www.courtexperform.com), Zak visualized his way through at least one practice each day. He used one or more of the following: his own 90-minute workout, an old practice plan of mine, or PGC camp sessions from his notes. Regardless, he spent at least 45 minutes each day purposefully visualizing himself practicing and playing at a high level.
There was one more way he mentally trained, and it was something we created ourselves. For now, we have named it Leadership Mental Training, and I quickly realized it could be extremely important for all of today’s players...not just injured ones.
In fact, it is the subject of my next blog post.
Zak was supposed to be on crutches until early November. The results he experienced might seem unrealistic, but after just 3 weeks, he was walking without crutches, shooting free throws, and doing stationary dribbling. His mobility in his hip was outstanding and he was pain free. As of today, 4 ½ weeks after the injury, he is shooting jump shots, jogging, and riding an exercise bike. He is projected to be playing again in the next couple of weeks which will put him about 2 months ahead of the original projected recovery period.