Dear Athletic Support: My daughter rolled her ankle pretty bad in a recent volleyball game. It’s big and blue and nasty all over, but she can still walk on it. As her dad, I really want to teach her a lesson in toughness. I want her to get back out on the court and play as soon as possible. I know that’s what my dad or coach would’ve told me to do back in my playing days. And I’m not gonna lie — if this were my son, I’d tell him to, “Walk it off!” I wouldn’t hesitate. But since she’s my daughter, I’m not really sure what to do. — Girl Dad
Dear Girl Dad: First off, it makes no difference whether we’re talking about your daughter or your son. I have a daughter. She’s just about to turn four, and I have made it a point to raise her up tough.
If I’m being honest, it’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve harped on throughout her short life. She falls, and I’m quick to tell her to get back up and, “Get tough.”
I don’t do this because of some macho, ego trip. I take this approach with my daughter because I know having a tough mindset will help her out in the long run.
I also make a very concentrated effort to let my daughter know she is loved. Any good coach (or parent) knows you have to achieve a balance if you want to get through to kids.
Your case, however, is different. It’s different because we’re dealing with an injury. Just because your daughter can walk on her ankle, doesn’t mean she’s in the clear.
To this day, my ankles still crackle and pop. I oftentimes wonder if this has to do with all the times I “walked it off.” One thing you didn’t mention in your question was your daughter’s age.
If she’s in junior high or younger, give her time to properly heal. Those formative years are about having fun and learning the game. If she’s older than that, and a serious contributor to the team, then I think it’s okay for her to consider pushing through the pain. I say this because at older ages, there is more of an obligation to the team. If she’s not seriously injured and can still help her team out, then by all means, sis, walk it off.
The one obvious omission I’ve made up until this point is whether or not your daughter should see a doctor. A medical professional will be able to give you a much more concrete answer to this question than I can, but then again, a trip to the doctor’s office could result in a much longer road to recovery.
In the end, it’s up to you… and your daughter.
Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author of the BOOKS MAKE BRAINZ TASTE BAD series. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact page on elicranor.com.