It is a shame that Robert Griffin III is not even close to the same quarterback he was last season. His Rookie of the Year season produced not only 27 TDs, over 800 rushing yards, and a playoff berth, but he also provided the franchise hope. The Washington Redskins finally had a quarterback that was “better” than advertised.
And now it’s all changed…that’s what injuries do.
Less then 10 months after tearing his knee, RG3 is playing hurt, and its obvious that he is not 100%. His ability to scramble and provide the same read-option offense as last season is simply non-existent. Even his throwing mechanics are adjusted due to his knee. Now, those issues will be remedied with time, however unfortunately the worse is probably yet to come.
What happens mentally with athletes when they get injured is that they return too soon.
In the athletes mind, they feel close to the same as before the injury, however after returning too fast, they soon discover that they are off. They may feel fine for 9 out of 10 plays, but that one play where they can’t cut, accelerate, or move like before causes doubt. Physically, it causes them to muscle guard and protect the injured area.
Doubt, which has never been there before is suddenly present. Doubt causes slight hesitations, over-thinking, or even trying to do too much. As a result of the doubt and less than stellar play, they lose confidence! In the RG3 situation, add the microscope of being an NFL quarterback, the highest of expectations for the team, the questionable coaching/doctor relationship, the media scrutiny, and one can magnify the pressure to perform ten-fold.
An athlete’s greatest strength is their confidence; it is why they are so great. If an athlete is allowed to return too fast and is not 100%, the confidence slowly goes and it is often difficult to get it back.
Compare this scenario of RG3 with another phenomenon with a knee injury, Derrick Rose. He sat out the entire 2012- 2013 season with the Chicago Bulls and came under intense scrutiny from everyone. However, he knew he wasn’t 100% and only now two weeks before NBA training camp, and 17 months later does he announce that he finally is healthy.
It’s not courageous to return when you’re injured. Advice to all athletes, injuries are one of the toughest things you’ll experience, but you must return to play ONLY when you are 100%.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with professional athletes & corporate athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness. His 2nd book is titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness. Follow on twitter @drrobbell or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the new film & e-book, NO FEAR: A simple guide to mental toughness .