In the final training session of the 2017 Adelaide Thunderbirds season, Emily Burgess tore her ACL. Following nine months of rehabilitation, she played her first netball game last week. We caught up with Emily, a 2018 Adelaide Thunderbirds training partner, to chat about her rehab and what she’s looking forward to about the upcoming season.
Following the news you had torn your ACL, how were your emotions?
The injury happened at our last Adelaide Thunderbirds training session for the 2017 season, in the last five minutes, and as soon as it happened, I knew I had done something serious.
It was obviously very disappointing – I had been working very hard throughout the season and for it to end like that was very upsetting.
Injuries are a part of sport and there’s nothing I could do to change it, so instead I focussed on what I could control, which was working hard at my rehab and making sure I set goals along the way.
Can you give a brief rundown on what the last nine months of rehab have involved?
Following the surgery there is extensive rehabilitation. I spent a lot of time in the gym and with our physiotherapist, Scott. The first stage is all about gaining strength and a full range of movement in your knee. Then you focus on keeping your fitness up. Even in the early stages of rehab you can ride the bike and at the three-month mark I began running again.
Then I was able to get back on the court, and work on running and changing direction. At this stage, you’re doing these drills without a defender defending you. As you progress, you start to build up the intensity of the drills.
Who are the people in your life who you couldn’t have lived without during the rehab process?
My friends, family and my teammates were very supportive, especially as they know what the recovery involves. Throughout the nine months, especially at the start, our physio and strength and conditioning coach were a huge help, and once I started getting out on to the court, my netball coaches.
ACL injuries are unfortunately a common occurrence among netballers, what would be your main piece of advice to a young netball who is about to start on their rehab journey?
My advice is that it’s really important to create little goals. Some of my goals, many people wouldn’t think are a big deal, like being able to bend and straighten your knee, but having those goals kept me motivated and focussed.
Another tip is to keep yourself involved and engaged in netball and your team. At training I would always find something to do, whether it was keeping score during the practice matches or even just picking up a ball and throwing it against the wall.
How does it feel to be fully fit again and to get out on the court?
At first, I was a little nervous, but now it feels really good. It’s good to be back on the court and being able to compete.
What are you looking forward to about the upcoming season?
I want to get back to the skill level I was playing at last year. I’ll most likely be playing for the Southern Force, and I’m really looking forward to that. We are serious about our netball, but away from the court have a great time together.