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Episode #67

Bounce Back STRONGER!

with Carrie Jackson

02 Mar, 2022

VIS Expert™ Carrie Jackson, a mental performance consultant specialising in mental training, resilience and injury psychology shares how to overcome injuries and come out stronger than ever.

Voice In Sport
Episode 67. Carrie Jackson
00:00 | 00:00

Transcript

Episode 67: Bounce Back Stronger: VIS Expert about the Psychology of Injury 

Carrie Jackson

Stef:

Welcome to the Voice in Sport podcast. I'm so excited to have Carrie Jackson Cheadle with us today. She's a VIS Expert and a mental performance consultant and has an amazing book out called On Top of Your Game and specializes in injuries.

I'm so excited because this topic is so important. We all face injuries in sport, and you are definitely an expert. Welcome to the Voice in Sport Podcast.

Carrie:

Thank you for having me.

 Stef:

I'd love to just start with your journey. I think it's really interesting, actually, you did not play sports growing up. So can we talk about what got you into this field and interested in mental performance consulting?

Carrie:

Yeah, my undergraduate was in psychology, so I was always really interested in human behavior and behavior change.  But when I graduated, as I was walking across the stage, I realized that I didn't want to become a therapist and then I wasn't sure what to do.

So at that time, I moved to Tahoe and was doing my own sports. And my sports at that time were snowboarding and rock climbing. And so as I lived in Tahoe, was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was having these experiences as an athlete and noticing some of the psychology behind my performance, as well as my friends.

And then my mom was looking at a program because she was going to get her master's in counseling, and she saw a brochure for a sports psychology program. And she's like, Oh, Hey, I picked this up for you. I know you're interested in continuing your education. I thought you might want to check this out.

And I was like, what is this? This is amazing. I had no idea sports psychology existed. So it all just really came together in this amazing way where I was like, I know I want to help people. I don't think there'll be the way I want to do it. That was before the positive psychology movement had come along, having those sport experiences myself, including injury and then having her show me that sports psychology existed, I went to the next open house and signed up and started my program

Stef:

And on to have a master's in sports psychology, and you're also an adjunct professor.

So we have a lot to learn from you. I want to talk a little bit about your book too, because your book was released in 2019, and it's such an important moment right now because mental health is even more of a priority, during COVID and these girls, they're in need of having access to amazing women like you, which is what we're launching on the Voice in Sport platform.

But also just to de-stigmatize the idea that accessing mental health is somewhat not cool. So can you just talk a little bit about that? Like how do you bring it to a place where the conversation is positive?

Carrie:

Oh my gosh. I love this question. Really, a lot of it's about flipping it and understanding that reaching out for support and getting access to mental health is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength.

 And one of the interesting tasks that I ended up taking is I had the opportunity to work with people on their mental health, through performance enhancement and through the door of the avenue of their sport. And sometimes it was through that door of let's see how we can help reduce your performance anxiety and feel more confident in your ability to accomplish really big goals and help with your focus.

 And seeing the impact there it started to broaden to where else could I have a positive impact on my life, if I worked on my mental health. So it's about completely flipping the script.

And I think that's what a lot of athletes are doing now. Professional athletes coming out and talking about mental health. And then also just all athletes saying, Hey, you know what, it's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength.  And why wouldn't you reach out for support if you need support.

Stef:

We talk a lot about the gym to work on our muscles and our physical side. But when we come to mental fitness, somehow, it's just not as talked about as much. And honestly not taken this seriously, especially in that younger age of high school and college. So can you help us wrap our heads around how would you define what mental fitness is?

Carrie:

 Yeah, I think it's funny. I first used that term in my first book and the way I described it, then this idea of mental fitness, I would say, you know how it's a sign of your physical fitness is if you jump on the treadmill and you run some sprints, how quickly your heart rate comes back to your resting heart rate.

With mental fitness it's how quickly can you adapt and adjust when you're faced with a setback, right? So a lot of mental fitness has to do with this idea of resilience. But I think the other piece of mental fitness that people are understanding now, and what I would also add to it is with physical fitness there's specific exercises you can do in order to get stronger, same thing with mindset, coaching and mental training.

We don't often think of things like goal setting or focus or confidence or resilience as skills, but they are all skills and there are exercises you can do to help strengthen your mental fitness. So I think that's one of the things too that's changing is in the past, people would think, well, you're either mentally strong or not. And just get over yourself, pull yourself up and you'll be fine.

Like it's not how it works. There are actually skills you can work on to feel more confident, to feel less anxious. And sometimes it's just about learning how your brain operates and learning how to retrain your brain and learning the skills that are there for you .

Stef:

Okay. So if you're in high school where do you start?

Carrie:

Well, that's a great question. I think that a lot of the work that I'm doing has to do with the thoughts that we're feeding ourselves. So I talk about this in my first book. Actually, I talked about it in both.

We all have a little monster on one shoulder and a little athlete on the other. And whichever one you feed is the one that's getting stronger. So we tend to be very good at feeding the monster and not so good at feeding the athlete. So that's one really nice place to start is how can we start practicing feeding the athlete.

Another way to think of it as like, how do I stop listening to the monster and start talking to the athlete? Because the monster is always there and it's not a bad thing. It's there for a very important reason, but if that's the only one we're feeding, that's the only one that's getting stronger.

Stef:

I love that visual and it's so true that inner voice is so important to how you feel every day and how you think about your goals. So I want to talk a little bit about, how you have then taken your career and all your experience in sports psychology from your masters and shifted into this one area of focus of injury and you created the Injured Athlete Club.

You also have the Injured Athlete podcast. So talk to me a little bit about how did you get to this area of focus and what is the importance of having a community for mental health, especially when you're going through injury.

Carrie:

Yeah, the road here to this particular area of expertise is interesting. I actually was injured, I had a knee injury, a torn meniscus that I had surgery for while I was a snowboarder and rock climber before I went into my master's program. And I had a really hard time recovering from that injury and feeling confident in my knee again, especially with rock climbing and doing some specific moves.

And I had a tough recovery and then fast forward, I went on to get my masters in sports psychology a few years later and ended up injuring my left knee with a torn MCL and just a freak snowboarding accident. And almost immediately, as they're taking me down the mountain on the sled, I was like, I'm going to use this.

I'm going to use everything that I'm learning about sports psychology and apply it to my recovery and see what happens. And my experience was so profoundly different from that first knee injury to the second that it was so obvious to me that everybody needed access to this and how do we help people understand how to use these skills specifically for the injured athlete process?

And to me, that was really important. So not only was it going through my own experience, but I worked with a lot of cyclists early in my career and when you work with cyclists, you're going to work with people coming back from a crash.

And so I helped them with these same skills. And, some of them came back to have their best season ever myself included. So it took me a while to finally get to the place where I specialize in it and wrote the book and realized this needs to exist when Cindy and I, Cindy Kuzma is my co-author.

When we were working on the book several times, as we're actually writing the book, we would stop in the middle of writing and go, how does this not exist? How was there not already a book for injured athletes and, the psychology of injury there's textbooks, but nothing for the athlete.

So it was really exciting to be able to do that. And for me, because of the work I've done in other areas, I knew how critical it would be to also create the community, so that athletes during a time when they feel isolated, could know that they're not alone and that there are many other athletes out there that do get it and are going through the same thing.

And it's just there's a different level of support you can get when you're with other people that are also athletes that have gone through what you're going through or are going through what you're going through. So, for me, that was a no brainer. I knew I would also create a community around it.

Stef:

Having each other to support and inspire each other during your journey, it's why we built Voice in Sport. So, I can't believe also that this wasn't existing, and I love that you went forward and just crushed it and have these amazing books, the podcast.

I do think it's pretty common though when you think about injuries as an athlete, it's like, you just want to forget it, get through it. So I love that idea that you can rise back after injuries and have a better comeback than ever before. Have you seen that a lot with some of the athletes that you've been working with?

Carrie:

Yeah, both with the athletes that I've worked with and then also with athletes we've interviewed for the book and for the podcast.

It's interesting time and time again. We'll have people independently of each other say, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. And I don't necessarily want to go have to go through this again, but I'm so glad that I did, because I'm a better athlete because of it. They're either a better athlete or it took them to a different place in their career that they never could have gone through had they not gone through that injury.

So, it's really interesting the different ways that people have actually grown through it. And part of my goal was to help people realize that earlier, cause sometimes people don't come to that until they can reflect on it much later. And so I wanted to flip things around and help people recognize when you're privileged enough to call yourself an athlete for long enough, there's a good chance you're going to face an injury.

And this is just your turn. So how can we use this as a part of your athletic journey instead of feeling like you're cast aside until you can produce again? Cause I think that's what a lot of athletes feel like when they're injured. It's like, all right, well, we'll see you when you're back.

And a time when they need the most support, they're getting the least. And so it was just time to flip that entire culture around mental health and then also around the injury recovery process and being an injured athlete.

Stef:  

In your book, you cite research, proving that deliberate focus on practices like goal setting, imagery and positive self-talk can actually affect how well and how swiftly athletes recover.

So let's go into a little bit of the details in your book, you actually talk about the 15 essential skills for injury recovery. So can you share some of those with us?

Carrie:

Yes. So there's the 15 different skills. These are like the mental training skills that will help you through your injury recovery process.

And then for each of those skills, there's different mental training drills that you can do to build up that skill. So there's some that are foundational, really support you through this whole process that build the base where all these other skills might then grow from.

So those skills are like confidence, focus, goal setting, motivation, and stress management. Then from there, we look at leveling up , to other skills that'll have an impact. And those skills are more like attitude, communication, self-awareness, discipline, resilience. So all of the skills that are in there to lead athletes, to help them build their hardiness.

So hardiness is basically this construct that's made up of three different aspects and those three aspects are commitment, which is, can you continue to put one foot in front of the other despite encountering a challenge or a setback?

Control is, do you feel like you have some influence over what's happening in the circumstances? So you understand what's in your control and what's out of your control and can put your effort and energy into things that you could still have influence over. And then challenge, which is you see life's stressors as a normal part of life.

And these are just challenging that you're going to come up against. And they're not going to change and it's not something that's happening to you. It's just something that's happening. And so these three aspects all together make up hardiness. And we know that athletes that are higher in levels of hardiness have better outcomes with their injury recovery and are also less likely to get injured.

So all of those skills in the book, and all the drills that help you with those skills are all building to this idea of how can we increase your level of hardiness.

Stef:

I love that. It's such great practical advice that every skill has a drill and again, just relating it back to your physical body and treating your mental health in that same way, I think is so critical. Okay, I am curious which ones are the most common for athletes in terms of what they face when they're recovering from an injury?

Carrie:  

Great question. One of the ones I see people struggle with a lot is, am I going to be the same athlete I was before my injury? Am I going to be able to perform to the same potential? Also not feeling confident in their body to be able to perform to the same level. And then the next piece of that is the fear of reinjury.

And so we go into protective mode sometimes when we've been injured and your brain's job is to protect the body. And so it's natural for that to happen. But sometimes those fears of reinjury really getting the athlete's way of their recovery.

Another one I see, especially with my high school and college athletes is that they're worried about letting their teammates down or worried that their teammates won't think that they're working hard enough on their recovery. And sometimes feeling guilty about not being able to help their team.

So there's a lot of feelings around that that people feel as well. In addition to feeling that loss of identity, of not being able to do the thing that they love and be with the people that they enjoy being with.

Stef:

Yeah, you're bringing back a lot of memories. I was plagued with a lot of injuries. I wish I would have been better equipped to go into it with the right mindset.  So let's break down the process. Starting with beginning of an injury.  That can be one of the most difficult and confusing times for many athletes.

 So let's say you're a young female athlete who just sustained an injury. What is something that you would say to that young female athlete right away when they have first become injured.

Carrie:

I think the first thing is just recognizing how they're feeling in that moment. That's a big thing in the beginning.

You're just on this big roller coaster of emotions throughout the whole injury process. But when you first get injured, it can feel very devastating, especially, you know, depending on the severity of the injury, at what point were you in your season?

So really acknowledging, I'm so sorry that you're going through this, and I'm so sorry that this is happening to you. Sometimes, you really have to hold the space for those feelings and allow them to feel their feelings before they're ready to then look at, okay, what can I do about this? there's timing involved with the idea of, can I turn this obstacle into an opportunity? And the first thing is just, it's okay to feel what you're feeling right now and also knowing that they're not alone.  And the other thing that I'll tell people too, in the beginning is as much as we can right now, your job is to help try and balance out the stress that you're under because stress can impact the recovery process.

So I'm usually working on making sure they're reaching out for support. What are some things that they enjoy doing that they can still do, and I'll give those things as homework. Like your job to today is to go watch one of your favorite comedy movies, to just as much as we can balance out the stress that they're under.

Stef:

Is there a different approach you take with athletes going through a long-term injury versus oh, I sprained my ankle?

Carrie:

What's interesting is the actual impact on the athlete in the beginning is the same no matter the severity or the length in the very beginning, there's a spike in the negative emotions that people will feel during that time. When it's a prolonged recovery, then we're looking at maybe including some other skills during that process again, there's still going to be the emotional roller coaster.

Cause there's going to be times where you might feel burnt out. So we're working on motivation, especially, sometimes with some of the rehab and the recovery, you might hit a plateau with these longer term where you're not seeing progress and to continue to do the rehab. That will eventually lead to progress, but you're not seeing it. I'm working on that motivation and goal setting  is a really big deal with the long-term recovery.

Stef:  

Okay amazing, so I think that shift in energy on what to focus on, when you first have an injury is so important. And in your book, you mentioned three “musts” to rebound. So can you tell us what those three are?

Carrie: Yeah, so the three messages, I really like to try and impart to introduce athletes to is understanding that the recovery process is both mental and physical and you ask any injured athlete that, and they get that there's definitely a mental component that comes along with it. So really understanding that the injury recovery is both mental and physical. And then understanding that your mindset does affect your recovery in many different aspects.

And so that it's worth working on that during this time, not only is it worth it to work on it because it helps you through the recovery process, but you're building skills that you're going to be able to use when you're back in action.

And then just making sure you embrace your ability to positively influence your trajectory. So it does make a difference.  The other piece I talked to a lot of my athletes about is helping them understand your recovery is now your sport, and all of the energy and effort you are putting into competition now needs to go into your recovery.

When we think about it that way, and I give them mental drills to work on in addition to doing the rehab that they're doing, they still feel like an athlete. You're still an athlete, the athletic journey happens to be getting through this injury.

Stef:

And, the thing that comes up so often with athletes, especially female athletes is nutrition. And we know that female athletes in high school are eight times more likely to incur injury when they are reporting disordered eating.

So, I'm assuming that you have a lot of instances where you're working with athletes, female athletes, specifically, where they're having to think through their nutrition and how to sustain that while during an injury and potentially during a disordered eating conversation. So, can you help us understand what do you do with those athletes?

Carrie:

Yeah, we did a free webinar on this topic, through the Injured Athlete Club group, because it's such a big topic for athletes. The other thing we'll see too, is not only can disordered eating potentially lead to injury, but when an athlete gets injured, it can sometimes be a trigger for disordered eating.

So a lot of people will have concerns about weight gain when they aren't able to do their sport and the recovering from injury. And then they're possibly not getting in the nutrients their body needs in order to recover. So it's a really big topic and a really important one. And a lot of times I'm referring athletes to a sports dietician or a sports nutritionist to talk about, what does my body need right now in order to recover?

And what does my body then need once I'm back to higher levels of intensity to make sure that your supported nutritionally as you're asking more of your body.  A lot of times I'm telling people too, sometimes it's not about, well, let's get more confident. No, you need to understand what kind of food you need to be putting in your body. So it's an important piece of the recovery process

Stef:

What is one drill that you can do during the beginning of your journey when you first become injured?

Carrie:

We have one called the emotion decoder. I have the saying that I use which is called “go far”. So far is an acronym for feel, accept, recover. So before you can get to recovery and now building yourself back stronger, you need to be able to accept, I am injured.

And before you can get to a place of acceptance, you got to feel your feelings, right? So the emotion decoder is an interesting exercise because it's a list of all these different emotions that you might be feeling, and you can go through and circle each emotion that you have gone through.

And then sometimes I'll have my athletes journal about it a little bit, write a couple of sentences about each one, or if we’re working together, we'll talk about each one because there is such power just in naming what you're feeling, that there's something about that process of labeling it and naming it that helps you move through it to acceptance.

 If we keep fighting against it, you're just prolonging the process. You're prolonging your recovery because you're not ready to do the things that you need to do in order to really work on your recovery. So for me, that's a big one. We're not always good at labeling our emotions because our brains like to clump things into categories for easy access.

So we're just like, this feels good. This feels not good. We put them in these general categories. But when you have the list and you go, oh, I'm feeling guilty, or I'm feeling remorse, or I'm feeling frustrated or confused.  When you hit the actual thing that you're feeling, now you've pulled it up to the surface and you have something to work with.

Stef:

It's a bigger problem we have in society where we don't like to talk often about how we're feeling if it's a negative. And I think the most common form of that is when you ask somebody how they're doing, and they say fine and they just they're rub it off,  and that can  take them to a pretty bad place if you aren't careful and just start becoming comfortable with talking holistically about all your feelings.

Carrie:

Yeah and we have all of them for a reason. So I like to not even label them as good or bad or positive or negative, really they're all important.

And they're all messages that are trying to tell us something. And if we lean into them, instead of trying to run away from them, we can actually do something with it and learn from them.

Stef:

Okay, so we felt we have accepted. So, how do we come back from our injuries?

What is the key to having a good comeback? I want to talk a little bit about one of your drills, obstacles to opportunities. I think that's one important to bring up to our audience

Carrie:  

I love this. It's one of my favorite drills is obstacles to opportunities. So the idea with this is that depending on how you're framing the situation, that is going to have a very significant impact on the way you talk to yourself, the language you use, the emotions that you feel and the decisions that you make.

So if you're going through a particular situation and you're like, this is going to suck. This is going to be horrible. There's certain language that you use, the certain filter that you see the situation through. And then if you take a step from there and go, oh man, this is going to be hard.

There's a subtle shift. So then the drill and the book, will walk you through this exercise of how to do this. What happens and what changes when you define this situation and you put it in the context of, oh, this is going to be hard. And then going to the next step, which is this is going to be a challenge.

And then how do you think about that situation and how are you talking to yourself and what emotions do you feel and what decisions do you make? And then what does it look like if you see it as an opportunity? And in the beginning, you're not going to jump immediately from this is the worst thing that's ever happened to, hey, where's the opportunity, right?

There's a process. And so this is a nice exercise to give you some of those baby steps of how does it look if I tweak this a little bit, cause some of the athletes that end up coming back and, and feeling like they had their best season ever. A lot of times they took that time to work on another area of their performance that maybe they wouldn't necessarily have time to work on when they're in the midst of competition.

So where is the opportunity? What else could I be doing right now to serve my sports to stay connected to my athletic self and come back better for it because I took the time to work on that aspect? Whether it's physical or mental.

Stef:

I definitely attribute my now passion for yoga and visualization and meditation tracing it all back to my injuries.

And since I had all those injuries in high school meditating and visualization it now has given me a superpower in my life. And so it goes well beyond the sport aspect, it’s something just good for you in general for your life. So I want to dive into visualization a little bit.

I think it's so important to learn how to visualize.  How do you create a visualization script?

Carrie:

Yeah, one of the best ways to do it is, think about writing a story. It's imagining that part of your body healing.

So you can either look at pictures of anatomy and look at where your injury is and imagine it repairing itself.  Or you can just imagine a white light that's healing that part of your body.  Sometimes I like to do that other times I'm having people visualize a rehab exercise that they're about to do that maybe they're feeling a little bit nervous about.

We might, spend some time seeing themselves go through it. And then sometimes they're doing visualization of imagining themselves back at a higher level of intensity and feeling strong and, seeing themselves getting back into higher intensity training and competition. So a great way to write a script is it's like telling a story.

And when you tell a good story you want it to be very vivid. And so one of the ways to do that is to think about when you're writing your script or your story of what you want to visualize using all of your senses. So what do you see? What do you smell?

What do you taste? What do you feel? What do you hear?  Adding in those little details that make it very vivid. And then the other piece you want is to be able to control the images. getting good at this skill takes practice just like your physical skills.  Sometimes, people, when they start out, they might not have as much control over the images that they see. With practice, you're able make sure what you're visualizing is what you want to be visualizing with positive outcomes. But you can write your own script and then record it and listen to it. Or you can have a friend record it, or you can just memorize it and go through.

The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Stef:

It's such great advice and very practical. You don't have to have a lot of money to do that. It just takes focus and effort. So how do you maintain your skills when you're recovering from an injury, because a big part of your comeback is to bring in that training and not to overtrain and not to let all of your physical side be depleted while you're recovering. How do you maintain some of those skills?

Carrie:

I think it's tough. It's an interesting balance.  A lot of times it's trying to figure out, am I holding myself back or do I have a tendency to hold myself back out of fear from doing some of these things?

Or am I pushing too hard too soon?  With some of my athletes, I'm telling them, a sign of your mental toughness, isn't pushing through, you're an athlete. We know you can tolerate the pain. We know you can push through. That's not a sign of your mental toughness. Your mental toughness is can you hold yourself back?

Because sometimes when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is really hard to hold yourself back. And I'm an expert in this, and I still struggle with this sometimes where there's two things that happen. One is like, you just are so excited. You desperately want to be back.

But the other thing I see sometimes too, it's almost this, compulsion to push myself to see, am I just going to injure myself again? There's fear around that. So it's fear in another direction of, I can't tolerate the idea of not being able to do this.

 You have to be patient and know that you're doing what you need to do to build back and then sometimes it's the opposite.  This is where it's really important to work on your mental training and make sure you've got the skills to be able to work on your feelings of anxiety and feelings of confidence to know how to listen to your body in a way that you then are very clear with like, oh, my body's telling me I need to stop versus I'm afraid it's going to hurt and I'm going to reenter myself so I need to stop. It's the mental training on both ends in either direction that helps you get through that. 

Stef:

That awareness of where do you sit, am I going to be the one that's pushing through everything regardless of pain, or I'm always going to be holding back.

I can tell you personally, I'm that pushed through person with my injuries, which is why often I would come back too soon. So I hope the girls that are listening to this podcast can take a step back and understand and be aware of your natural tendencies, and recognize what those are when you're going through your comeback strategy.

Carrie:

Absolutely.

Stef:

So important. Well, the last area we want to touch on when it comes to injuries, is your identity in sports. I think this is so difficult for us when we're going through injuries.

It can highlight so much of our lives that is taken up by sport. And then when you don't have sport, you're realizing, oh my gosh, I have all this time on my hands. But it's so important to have those interests beyond sport. I want to talk a little bit about like your thoughts on finding an identity beyond sport and whether that can actually help to speed up an injury along the way.

Carrie:

Yeah, it is really important because we do see, you know, when an athlete has a high athletic identity and they get injured, it can be devastating. And so this is something important for sports, but also important for life. Because there's other places you can feel like you have a high identity in that area of your life.

And if you don't have other identities and roles that feed you and make you feel good and are a part of how you develop your self-worth, when that one thing is taken away, it can be very, very devastating. So, it's really important to understand that you are worthy without any of those roles and having multiple roles so that you can have that balance.

So really understanding, what are the other things that you enjoy doing? And not only other things you enjoy doing, but there’s the people that are in your life that you can be a good sister or a good daughter or a good friend to.

That there's other places that you can find connection for your self-worth and not just in your sport. It's okay to have a higher athletic identity, a lot of us do, but where else can you balance that out? When you're injured and you feel like you've lost some of that identity,  just remembering, you're still an athlete, but now your recovery is your sport and you just need to shift that focus.

Because people can feel a little tossed aside and sometimes by their coaches or their fellow teammates. It's a difficult time and a difficult situation when you're already feeling that loss.

  Stef:  

If you're that girl that just happened to get injured and you realize in that moment, wow, sport was everything. And I haven't done much else to create an environment that's positive for my life and other interests, where do you start? How do you help coach girls to think about developing their identity beyond sport?

Carrie:

Sometimes it's as simple as I'll have them write a list of other things, either that you're interested in now or things that have even a tiny bit peaked your interest, and then we might look at taking one of those things and exploring it a little bit more. Cause there's something that comes from when we engage that part of our brain with learning and mastery, it feels good.

So at a time when you're not able to do this other thing that feeds that part of you, is there another place that we can do that? So sometimes it's as simple as that.

And then another thing I'm also encouraging them to build up their support system and reach out for support to make sure that they have people that they can talk to, or they can do some of these things with, if there's something that's peaked their interest. I have a whole chapter on building your support system, rallying your crew because it's such a critical part of that recovery process.

Stef:

Okay I've learned so much and I know that this podcast is going to help so many girls, and I would love to know from your opinion, what is that one characteristic you see athletes who manage the recovery and coming back stronger. What is that one characteristic and how do young female athletes develop?

Carrie:

I think it really is that hardiness and making sure that you're working towards those three things. do you feel like there's something within your control to influence, do you see this thing in front of you as another one of life's challenges and, yes, you would prefer to not be dealing with this challenge, but life's going to throw you a lot of challenges, so can you see it as a challenge?

So I think looking at your hardiness is a big one. And, I would say the support system too, and being proactive about both seeking out support and allowing yourself to receive it.

Stef:

I mean, that's why we've got the Voice in Sport community, so that anybody can access experts, whether that's in a group setting or individually, we want to make sure that that's easier for girls to access. And de-stigmatized. So our final two questions, if you could take a look back Carrie, and think about your younger self, what's one piece of advice that you would tell yourself as a young female athlete in sport, reflecting now on all this amazing experience that you have, your master's in sports psychology and two books written.

Carrie:  

I think my one piece of advice to my younger self would be that it's okay to be strong and that you don't have to play small in order to make other people feel better about themselves.

Stef:

Amazing. It's so important. With being strong, that's actually why we named the company VIS. It means power and force in Latin, and we want all girls to own that.

Okay. What is one thing that you would like to see changed for the future of women's sports?

Carrie:

Ah, well equal pay. It immediately comes to mind. I would also say more opportunities and more diversity and inclusion also, but those are my big ones I would love to see.

Stef:

Amazing and just have to ask, the field of sports psychology is often male dominated like the sports industry. So why is that? And what can we do to change and bring more women like yourself into this field?

Carrie:  

I think part of it is just because for a very long time, sports were male dominated.  Therefore, the services to those athletes are going to be male dominated.

Even when I was growing up, I was not encouraged to play sport, it wasn't part of my family culture. It just wasn't something, that I did as a young girl. And I remember having this very vivid moment of I was on a cross country road trip and I was sitting in my friend's little sister's room and about to go to sleep.

And I looked around her room and it was plastered with all of these posters of athletes, female athletes. She was soccer player. And I was like, oh my gosh, who would I have been if I had grown up in this room? It was a very visceral moment for me.

And so I think that part of it is for so long, there weren't those role models in sport and the depth isn't there. And now that's changing.

Stef:

Oh, I love that. I think it's one of the key tenants of what we're building at VIS is visibility to role models and it is so important.

You've seen it, you believe it and go do it. Thank you so much for your time today, Carrie. It's so impressive to see what you've built and so many amazing people that you're helping along the way. We're very thankful to have you part of this community and we will see you back here.

Host: Stef Strack

Producer: VIS Creator™ Zosia Bulhak

 

VIS Expert™ Carrie Jackson, a mental performance consultant specialising in mental training, resilience and injury psychology shares how to overcome injuries and come out stronger than ever.