On Friday August 2, 2019 Craig James was a speaker at the National Sports Medicine Institute’s, 2019 National Sports Medicine Foundation Annual Sports Medicine Conference. The two-day conference was held at the Shenandoah University – Ashburn Campus for athletic trainers, many local and some traveled as far as Michigan, to continue their education for accreditation. Craig’s topic Psychological Strategies for Returning to Play supported this year’s theme “Anticipate, Prepare, Perform.” Integrating sports and developmental psychology, the emphasis was on the emotional, physical and psychological impact of an injury on student-athletes. A few highlights included:
- There is no such thing as a minor injury. Even the most insignificant injuries can be considered traumatic and unmask mental health issues, like anxiety and depression.
- While it is normal to have an emotional response to an injury and medical information, the more connected the identity of the student-athlete is to the sport, the greater the chance of a negative emotional reaction.
- While many athletes develop self-esteem, enjoyment, and self-satisfaction from sports, it can also be a mechanism for coping with life stressors.
- While most high school and college teams have diverse coaching staffs that include athletic trainers, medical doctors, and assistants, many do not include a sports psychologist/social worker or mental health performance professional. By providing athletes with access to this type of professional, we help improve athletic performance and destigmatize therapy.