Episode 35 | The ACL Athlete Self-Assessment

Show Notes:

  • The ACL Athlete Self-Assessment
  • How to utilize the Self-Assessment
  • How this assessment can be the difference between staying where you’re at or getting to your end goal

What is up ACL athletes, and welcome back to another episode, episode 35. We are diving into the ACL Athlete Self-Assessment. Last week, we talked about remembering your why. If you haven’t listened to that, go back and listen to it. It’s really short, but it’ll help set the foundation for what we’re going to talk about today. And make sure you record that video for yourself. It’ll be very helpful, especially on the low days and when you have those setbacks because they will happen. Just go and do it, listen to it, it sets it up. If you want to do it after today’s episode, then just carve out five minutes to sit down and just give yourself that video and that’ll be so valuable for you. Because this is not four weeks, this is a 9- to 12-month journey, and there’s a lot that goes into that.

Today, we are building on that with the ACL Athlete Self-assessment. And this is something that I came up with that I built out. It was just something that really dawned on me that there were a lot of people who are going through this, who don’t really have a grasp of their goals, or why they’re doing it, or maybe they’re so far into it, or they have these low points and they lose focus. And that’s okay to have, but you need something to help anchor you. And this is something that I realized when I was going through my two ACL injuries and surgeries and the recoveries that this helped to really anchor me, especially in those times when I was really needing some encouragement. This is something that I wanted to bring to you guys. I want it to be a really honest reflection. There are going to be times in this, we’re going to cover it today, where I want you to just really sit down, be honest with yourself, and really write out this answer. Because at the end of the day, you can only help yourself, and this is where you need to be able to know where you’re at, what the plan is, and where you’re going. And don’t worry gang, there is a free download in the description. If you go down there, there is a free PDF download. All you got to do is do that, put your email in, and get it straight to your inbox. And it’ll be something that you can have as your own. But in terms of looking at this, I want you to have a point A and a point B.

Point A is where you are currently. You will take these questions and the information that you get from it, and you’re going to establish your starting point, no matter where you’re at in this process. And this is going to be a self-reflection of it. And in order for you to know where you need to go, you need to know where you’re starting at. And then comes into play is the plan. That’s how you’re going to get to the finish line, that’s how you’re going to get to the endpoint. Your plan should both address these challenges that you talk about and getting you ready for that end goal. And that’s what your rehab, your coaching, your plan, and any setbacks that you experience need to be helped and navigated with someone else, and making sure that you have a plan in place to get to that end goal, which brings me to point B. And that is your goal, your why, your dream, your desire. It’s the end of the journey where you’ve worked so hard and you have used that plan that you have in place. You’re there, you’re at the finish line, and you’re able to do the things you love without worrying about your knee, being very confident, and you’re just living life. This is the way that I want you to set the frame here, of looking at this.

Now, I’m just going to go through my own ACL journey, as we go through this self-assessment. And that way it gives you an idea, it gives you what was going through my head, what I would fill out here, in terms of going through this document. And so let’s just do it. If we start off with the document, it tells you how you’re going to use this document. One of the main things is just to be honest with your answers. If you just kind of put something very superficial, then if that benefits you, then great. If it doesn’t, then dive a little bit deeper and no one else has to see it but you. So that’s where this can be really helpful to help anchor you. And what I mean by that, is being able to know where you’re at. I can’t stress this enough. Imagine if you had a GPS and you were trying to put in a destination, but you have no idea where you’re currently standing. You have no GPS to tell you what your location is, what longitude, latitude, street, whatever it is. And luckily, we have the technology to do this for us. But when you’re going through an ACL rehab, depending on who you’re working with, it might be really difficult to assess where you’re at and compare it to the end goal of where you want to be. So that’s where being able to know this certain starting point is going to be so valuable.

The first two things we start with, is what is your number one goal to get back to after ACL recovery? And what is your number two goal to get back to ACL recovery? I’m just going to use my example. As you guys know, I have torn my ACL twice. My first one in high school, and this was in my sophomore year. I missed my entire junior year and then came back for my senior year. And sports were my life. This is the example that I want to use because I know it relates to a lot of you here. Because typically, it happens with a sport or an activity that you love to do. The other one is just as relevant, but I just want to kind of anchor it to this one. If I’m looking at my number one goal, my number one goal is when I tore it. I tore it playing football. My goal was to get back to my senior year and play football. I was obsessed with it. If you look at my story, it’s something that was very meaningful and impactful for me in my life. I went from this little chubby kid who was unathletic, to really pushing really hard. I was able to drop a ton of weight, get much stronger, and be someone who felt confident in their body and as an athlete. And then I tear my ACL. And that’s one of the things where you just don’t expect it to happen and no one ever expects it to happen to them until it happens. And then here we are. So that is something that has really impacted me. I had such a passion to get back to it because it was just something that was so important. It was a huge driver of a lot of things that I’ll talk about here. But to answer this question, I wanted to come back, I wanted to play my senior year with football.

My number two goal was to be able to wrestle and play baseball. I was a year-round athlete whenever it came to sports, that was pretty much what I did. The end goal of being able to be active throughout my life, get to college and be able to compete in sports, and to be able to move around. But when I was in high school, my main focus was more so let me get to football. The next question is, why are these two goals important to you? Well, sports were my life in high school, as I had mentioned, to feel like an athlete, to start on the football team, to make it to state with wrestling, to be with my friends, all of these things kind of list up of why it is important. And then the next question is to go further. Why do you really care about these two goals? What do you love about them, the emotions that they bring on? I’m making you guys kind of dive a little bit deeper, more so than just, oh, it’s fun. It brings me a lot of joy. My best friends were on the same team. And when I tore my ACL, I had to take time away from the team from practices, and I just felt disconnected. There’s a lot of camaraderie, there’s a lot of social association with playing sports. It’s a way that we build friendships, it’s a way that there’s like in the locker room talk or just on the field talk where you’re with your buddies. It is just one of those things that you can’t really replicate with anything else.

And another piece to it. Our team was really good. We were really good at football. And I wanted to be on that team after my whole entire journey with my own health, and trying to work really hard to play sports. It was really important for me to come back to my senior year, start and play, and to be able to be a part of this winning team. I was in this small hometown, but it’s one of those where the stores shut down. Everyone is at the football game. And it’s just one of those things that to this day for me, is one of the best feelings of being an athlete and being on that field. And as I had mentioned, the social piece of it, the camaraderie, the laughs, having fun, feeling like you belong to something and have a purpose. And you might be like, “Ah, come on, this is high school football, okay.” But at the time, it meant so much to me. As a lot of you listen here, there is something that you are looking at, your goals, whether that’s skiing, to play soccer, football, play with your kids again, run around, to be able to do all the things that you want to do. There is a deeper reason behind it. There is something about it that makes you really happy, it makes you feel belonged. You don’t want to miss out on things. I know FOMO was a big piece for me. But I encourage you to dive deeper and this is that question where you ask yourself, what are those goals? Why are they important? And then go a step further and figure out what it is that you are trying to get back to. And I want you to anchor yourself to this. I want you to see this and visualize it and then use that as you move forward through your ACL rehab. 

And then the next question that follows is what would happen if you don’t get there? How would that make you feel? I know for me, I would’ve been sad, angry, depressed, anxious, lacking confidence, insert any kind of negative feeling, which I’m sure from time to time, I know during the process I did. But that’s where having the plan to be able to make sure I’m getting there along with a coach really helped. But it’s one of those things where you just kind of flip the script and you’re like, “Okay, these are my goals. How is it going to impact me if I don’t get there?” And this is one of those things where you got to really ask yourself: it’s not fun to think about and it’s not fun to entertain. But it’s something to recognize, okay, how important and how much of a priority is this for me? And it could be the very thing that would kick you right into gear for your own rehab and to be able to fuel you and motivate you to move forward.

Next, comes into these questions that I’m going to ask you to reflect on your own where do you feel like you currently are in your ACL journey? Now, every single one of you is somewhere different, and I want you to recognize that. Are you pre-surgery prehab? Maybe you’re waiting because of lockdown, maybe you have had surgery or you’re electing not to get it and you’re trying to do your rehab. It’s not going as well, or maybe it’s going really well. Maybe you’re crushing it, you’re cruising along, and that’s amazing. You’ve got someone in your corner to help you. These are all great things. But I want you to know where you are currently and be able to reflect on that. 

And then the next question is: what is the biggest challenge you are facing that is stopping you from getting to the goals that you listed above? If you listed those goals and you are looking at the end destination, then what is the roadblock or the barrier or the brick wall that is standing right in front of you that you’re like, “Man, I’m just struggling with this so much.” And maybe it’s your swelling, maybe getting your knee extension back, maybe you’re having pain with running, maybe you are having a lot of pain with the front of your kneecap, the graft site. You’re trying to learn how to jump, but it keeps being very painful. Or, you just don’t feel like your knee has it in it to be able to jump and create that power. Maybe you just don’t feel very confident or strong in it, maybe you’re just like, “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing and I don’t really have guidance,” maybe your insurance ran out, or maybe the physios, the physical therapists, or rehab professionals who are close to you are not very good. And you’re struggling to figure out, “Well, what do I do next? And so this leads me to, do you have a plan to address this big challenge or barrier or roadblock or brick wall? Do you have a plan for this? If so, what is it? If not, why not? And if you’re stuck, that’s okay. It’s normal to feel that way. But my question is, is there a plan in place to be able to get there? And one of the things that, I believe was Herm Edwards said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” This is something that I really want to stress to you because you can have all these goals, but if there is no plan to be able to create a path to get you to that end goal, then that’s going to be really hard. 

And especially with ACL rehab, you want someone there to help guide you with this process. This is something to reflect on. Do you have a plan? If so, what is it? If not, why not? Do you have someone who is guiding you in this process and helping you with a specific plan? Who is it? And if you don’t, then I would ask yourself, how can I find someone to do that? Hello (selfish plug here). But I do work with people remotely. But with that said, there are so many people out there who are doing remote work as well as in-person work. If the person that you’re with is not the right fit or you feel like they’re not setting you up for that end goal, then that is something that you need to reflect on and be like, “Okay, well, what do I do next?” What is the game plan? And if you do not know where to start or what to do, just reach out to me. I promise you I could push you in the right direction. The goal here isn’t how many people can I get from this podcast. It’s for you to have the next step and the next direction for you to make sure that you have a good recovery and so then that you can be at that place where you are getting to that end goal.

Lastly, we talk about who is your support system. And I think this is really important and can get missed sometimes. I’ve mentioned this in the previous podcasts. But identify who your support system is. Is it your family? Is it your friends? I know for me, those two were huge in my recovery for me to stay sane, and to be able to lean on them whenever things got really hard. I want you to list those out. And why are they important to you? And then one of the additional things that are not on here that I want you to think about is assigning one person in your life that is your go-to person, that maybe you let them know, like, “Hey, can you be my point person in terms of there being a setback? Or you’re going through a rough patch and you’re not thinking the best thoughts?” Then find someone to be able to talk to about that and let them know. And I think that this will be something that can help you, whether that’s your husband or your wife if it’s your best friend that’s on the team or not on the team, maybe it’s a coach, maybe it’s your PT, maybe it’s mom or dad or a sibling. Find someone who is that one go-to person. And then just make sure you have your team and your entire support system so that way you can lean on them. And then I go through any other notes that are important here for the self-assessment. 

And then at the end, it talks about what I had discussed earlier of point A to point B. And that’s where you are where you want to be. And then in the middle goes the plan and the coach to help get you there. And those are the things that are important. But do yourself a favor, and fill this out. Think about this podcast. If you have any questions, please send them to me. I’d be happy to answer them. And if you want any coaching feedback, maybe you’re stuck, then just let me know. Send me a DM on Instagram at ravipatel.dpt, or you can reach out to me at ravi@theaclathlete.com. And that way you can have some direction in where you want to go. 

As I mentioned earlier, I will put this assessment in the show notes below so that you can download it, free of charge, just something for you to have. And that way you can look at it and just save it in a place where you have it. Or, maybe you can print it out and you can put it on the wall, or you could put it on your bathroom mirror about your goals. And those are the things that I want you to be able to reflect on and take what I mentioned in episode 34, of remembering your why, connect it to the self-assessment and just see where you’re at. And then that way you at least have the macro plan here, and then you got to get into the details of like, “Okay, what is that specific plan to get me there and who I needed my corner to make that happen?

As I mentioned before, this self-assessment and reflection really helps me to be able to make sure that I was on the right path. I had clarity about what it is, and why I was showing up every day to do what I was doing. And I’m hoping that you can channel that same inner drive for yourself along for your ACL rehab so that way you can move forward and get back to the things that you love to do with confidence. That’s going to be it for today, guys, self-assessment, honest reflection, download it, get it done. Let me know your thoughts.

That’s it for today, guys. Thank you all so much for listening. This is your host, Ravi Patel, signing off.

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