Comebacks!

By Cory Bank, Ph.D.

running

There is no doubt that professional comebacks can make for some of the most dramatic moments in sports. It’s exciting to follow the athlete’s progression and makes us want to cheer on the commitment as we admire the sheer determination put forth by those seeking to re-enter the sports they love.

But, what about the recreational athlete who has taken some time off from his or her fitness activities and is looking to make a personal comeback? While the weekend warrior might not have the same motivating factors like record breaking glory, endorsements and mega bucks as a professional athlete, he still has his own important, compelling reasons to return to a sport. These might range from better mental and physical health, looking better, and the need for team camaraderie, to being a positive example to family, friends and peers. Regardless of the reasons, it’s imperative to realize and understand that for most of us, a comeback cannot be taken lightly.

The following guidelines can help enhance our physical development and psychological enjoyment of returning to our athletic pursuits. Of course these suggestions are not set in stone, so please feel free to personalize them to suit your own needs and enhance your progress as you make your comeback.

Comeback Gradually to Your Fitness Level
A general rule is that the longer your time away from physical activities, the more gradual your return should be. Don’t forget that additional factors such as injury recovery and/or an excessive body fat percentage should be entered into your equation. If it has been a significantly long layoff, it’s probably wise to play it safe and make an appointment for a check-up with your physician prior to beginning the regimen. By making your comeback slow but sure, you are allowing your body to absorb the fitness training which is essential for progress. Furthermore, it will also decrease your chances of injury.

Keep Track of Your Progress
Keeping track of your progress will allow you to maintain an objective measure of your training with regards to your fitness activities. It is also a great opportunity to record your subjective feelings as you make your comeback. Finally, it can make for a useful baseline marker in terms of looking at progress over time. For example, a person who returns to running and initially can only run one mile soon realizes she is running two miles a month later and before she knows it, is running five miles only six months later.

Embrace Role Models
Athletic role models can provide great motivation to help you keep up with your training. By embracing someone you respect who has accomplished a significant goal similar to yours can actually provide you with additional impetus to drive your success and push you further. Someone who becomes frustrated because his tennis game is not advancing as quickly as he would prefer, should take a lesson in comebacks from James Blake. Blake is a world class tennis player who battled back to be in the top 10 after breaking his neck in a freak accident on the tennis court. Blake’s determination and grit is truly an inspiration to tennis players everywhere.

Make Your Comeback Fun
Whatever the physical activity you are getting back into, make sure you enjoy the time you dedicate to it. Try to surround yourself with positive training partners and select events you enjoy. Vary the training and try to maintain an optimistic, upbeat outlook when the going gets tough. Remember that when given a choice, we typically choose to spend our recreational time on activities that we benefit from and find pleasurable.

Implementing and adhering to the above guidelines should enhance your comeback while leading to greater overall health and fitness.

The best of luck and success!


Cory BankCory Bank, Ph.D., is a Sports Psychologist who works with athletes of all ages and abilities around the country. One can work with Dr. Bank in person, through phone sessions, or online.  Dr. Bank seeks to focus on each person’s strengths and needs in order to assist each individual to reach their fullest potential. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Bank has completed the Ironman USA Triathlon. He has been featured on several media outlets. Please feel free to contact Dr. Bank at 215.836.2370orcorybank@abingtonpsychology.com .