Injuries tend to have more psychological effects than being physical in sports. They tend to test the best in the sporting business and influence them in taking some drastic decisions, career changing ones. Take AB de Villiers’ as an example.
The batting maverick’s struggle with recurring back injury and elbow issue that has had the same effect and has forced him to re-think about his cricketing future and thus temporarily quit the longest format.
He may have recovered now and fully fit to take the field again, but as the toll of the injury got higher and the age began catching up, ABD thought of taking the backseat and manage his workload a bit.
“It’s something I haven’t dealt with a lot in my career. I haven’t had a lot of injuries. But every single time I’ve had an injury, I’ve come back stronger. Throughout my twenties, thirties – doesn’t matter where – I’ve always felt it’s an opportunity to get back and prove you’ve worked really hard at your game, said de Villiers speaking in Bengaluru at a promotional event for his app, AB 17”
“It’s not now that I’m in my thirties I get all these injuries. One of the main reasons why I wanted to play less Test cricket. I don’t like the words “managing workloads”; I think it’s nonsense. I know my body and I know my mind. As long as I’m fresh, I’ll play for as long as possible. I know when I need a break as well.”
De Villiers adds that Spanish sporting legend Rafael Nadal is his greatest inspiration when it comes to mentally deal with such blocks. The tennis superstar has had one of the most straining relations with the injury during the course of his career and has always managed to beat it and come back stronger.
“I’ve found inspiration through a lot of athletes who have done that in the past. I think of [Rafael] Nadal – the tennis player – the way he’s come back has inspired me a lot. He’d been out for quite a long time as well. As long as that motivation is there mentally, nothing is going to stop me.”
Work-life balance is another aspect. It’s often tough to maintain that critical balance. ABD, who has a young family, however, feels happy that he has started to find that crucial work-life balance.
“It’s crucial to have a good balance in life in general, especially when it comes to socialising and working away from the game. Preparing for games, the game itself, time with family… it’s really important to get that balance right. It’s something I probably haven’t got right over the last three-four years. Therefore, I’m sitting with a couple of injuries.”
“That’s a better way of describing it: balance – balancing your life and having enough of everything to stay fresh. We’re getting that balance now and I feel really happy. You can see in the park I’ve got a smile on my face again.”