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Fiona Pocock: Recovering from Injury with “Tiny” Goals

Fiona at her peak in 2010

Fiona scoring at her peak in 2010

It was incredible playing again, in my first England appearance, since my injury in September 2010. As I’m sure any nervous athlete understands, all I wanted to achieve was to put in a solid performance and remain calm. Nothing special. Just be cool. And I came off the pitch absolutely beaming. It was a mixed feeling: blurry confusion yet totally in awe of what was happening, if that makes sense. I had finally done it. I had beaten the odds. And it felt amazing.

With the Six Nations swiftly on the way, the next match to look forward to was Ireland away. I felt relaxed, and with my return to the field under my belt I felt confident. The match did not live up to my high expectations. We were 30 points down with 20 minutes to go; shocking because in our previous match we won by 86 points. This is when I came on; at a crucial time and immediately got ball in hand. This was it, my chance to make an impact. In an awkward tackle when making a break, I ruptured the ACL in my other knee. Unbelievable.

The ACL is the term for the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It’s the main ligament in your knee which provides resistance to anterior translation and prevents excessive tibial medial and lateral rotation, as well as valgus and varus stresses. In short, the ACL is one of the main stabilising mechanisms within the knee. A scan revealed I had ruptured this main structure, as well as damage to other bits and bobs. I just couldn’t believe it. Surely no one could be that unlucky!

At the moment it feels impossible to see the positive in all of this; because everything is very emotional and daunting. Mostly I’m shocked that this could happen to me; after all that time and effort I had spent to get back onto the pitch from my last knee injury.
However when I take a step back and look at my situation objectively (something I learnt to do during my last rehab) I am comforted by the thought that I’ve done this before; therefore I can do it again.

The way I’m going to do this, and suggest anyone else in a similar situation does this too, is to totally ignore goals which are more than one month’s work away.

For example, in this early stage, there is no point in putting my efforts into being able to lunge. That goal is unattainable at the moment so why put pressure on it and then risk being disheartened when it doesn’t happen quickly. Instead, I’m focussing on something I believe I can achieve in the short term – being able to walk smoothly without crutches.

We’ve all heard of ‘short term goals’ but I’m talking about tiny goals. These are literally goals which I have potential to achieve in a week’s time. I call it “Box Ticking”. Every time I do something which I couldn’t do before, I tick a box. Looking at the boxes I’ve already ticked is really motivating and rewarding.

Fiona Pocock's injury at the World Cup 2010

Fiona Pocock’s injury at the World Cup 2010

The boxes can be rehab or personally focussed, and there can be as many as you like. In fact the more the merrier because one day when you look back at all those achievements you’ll see just how far you’ve come.

I will be writing regular blogs about my knee recovery where hopefully I’ll be able to tell you how well I’m doing.

If you have any questions or need some advice if you’re in a similar situation please get in touch or leave a comment below. Injuries are crap but believe me, it’s useful to talk about it.


About Fee Pocock

Northampton-born Fiona played for Petersfield RFC from 1995-2006, starting at the age of age of seven. She captained Petersfield U16 for two years and went on to represent England U20 and A teams along the way to gaining 22 full caps and scoring 18 Test match tries – including the first in her country’s 2010 WRWC campaign against Ireland.   She became the Sky Sports HD Woman of the Match, along the way to becoming England’s top try-scorer in the pool stages but missed the final against the Black Ferns through a knee injury. Fiona has also played for Richmond in the Dubai Sevens, appeared in the Amsterdam tournament and represented England at the Nations Cup in Canada.  View all posts by Fee Pocock

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