I have been playing soccer since I was 13 years old and absolutely LOVE playing the game. I play on a local team and game day is what I look most forward to each week.
This past spring, just two games into the season, I dislocated my hip on my kicking leg (right) while practicing. It hurt. A lot. For a few days I couldn’t walk. I was incredibly disappointed by this because I had spent so many months getting into great shape for the season. The first two games of the season were probably two of my best games in years. I hoped for a speedy recovery, but ultimately it took me 10 weeks to fully recover.
About 2 weeks into recovery I began going back to the gym to start some light rehabbing. Unfortunately the most I could do with my injured leg was lightly jog on it. I could barely kick the ball and if I tried, the blinding pain brought me to my knees (I figured this out the hard way several times). I was so frustrated, angry, and sad all at the same time. I wanted nothing more than to at least be able to kick the ball, even if I couldn’t play. For a few days I stopped going to the gym because I was so frustrated with the injury. I kept wondering why this happened and why now.
It was at this point that I needed to make a decision. Do I continue down this angry path or make the best out of a bad situation? I wondered what I could do to get my soccer fix during what was an indefinite recovery period. Eventually I figured, why not kick with my other leg? I tried and it felt very strange and resulted in a lot of poorly kicked balls. I then thought, why don’t I perfect my left footed kicks while my right hip heals. So I made a goal of it. I wanted to perfect my passes, shots, and lobs with my left foot. I went to the gym almost every day so that I could do some light cardio, stretch, and go work on my left kicks. Every session I spent time passing, shooting, and lobbing the ball with my left foot. After a couple of weeks it started feeling quite good and eventually I was looking forward to my left-footed practice sessions. I set mini-goals such as not allowing myself to leave the session until I lobbed a certain number of balls into the towel bin. Sometimes this took a long time!
After several weeks I was starting to feel less pain in my right leg and thought about what I could perfect with my right leg now that it was feeling better. I decided to work on form. So I began watching game highlights of players like Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, and others. I paid close attention to their form and got to work on practicing very lightly. The advantage of not being able to kick at full power was that I had to focus on form/quality over power. All of a sudden I’m paying attention to every detail of my foot’s positioning and how it impacts the ball. A few weeks later I was taking the most accurate shots of my life and from significant distance. It felt great!
Four weeks ago I played my first pick up game and my hip felt great. I am incredibly excited about training for the fall season and making use of my improved shots, passes, and lobs.
What I am about to say is going to sound strange, but I’m actually glad I dislocated my hip. If not for that, I would not have taken the time to perfect my kicks.
Life knocks you down every now and then, however, that is to be expected. What matters is whether you get back up and keep moving forward or not. And if you find a way to approach it positively, you may just get back up stronger than when you first got knocked down.