Step #4

Return to Sports Decision

Making the most informed return to practice and play decision

Returning to sports prematurely, without (1) the physical fitness, (2) the sports-specific skills or (3) the mental confidence to perform are the three biggest reasons why most athletes fail to return to sports successfully.

Returning prematurely can lead to;

  1. Increased risk of re-injury
  2. Increased risk of sub-par performances (struggling to achieve sports goals without the necessary fitness or individual skills)
  3. Increased risk of secondary injury (i.e. unable to move quickly out of the way of an opponent due to a knee injury then sustaining a new injury such as a concussion)
  4. Increased risk of psychological depression & withdrawal from others (struggling to meet expectations)
  5. Increased risk of altered  communication with coaches and teammates (struggling to meet expectations)
  6. Increased risk of losing of interest in the sport (no longer enjoyable if their performances are poor or the pressure to achieve or lead is too great)
  7. Increased risk of quitting or retiring prematurely from the sport for all the items listed above.

Must Answer “Yes” to ALL of the Following Questions

  1. Has repair tissue at the site of injury had adequate time to restore sufficient tensile strength to withstand the unrestricted demands of the given sport?
  2. Has the athlete restored full painfree range of motion at the site of injury; full muscular strength, power and endurance; normal dynamic proprioception at the affected joints?
  3. Has the athlete seen a physician and received medical clearance to return to unrestricted practice?
  4. Has the athlete restored their ability to perform their individual sport-specific skills with confidence, precision at full speed, with the endurance to repeat the skills as needed WITHOUT an immediate or delayed onset of symptoms within 24 hours?
  5. Does the athlete feel confident in their physical and psychological abilities to return to play and excel?
  6. After the athlete has participated in unrestricted practices without a return of  symptoms, have they seen a physician and been cleared to participate in unrestricted competition?

Default: “If in doubt, keep them out”