How to deal with setbacks?


It’s been a while since we have heard from Evelien, our team rider who is on a mission to kite the biggest waves possible like Nazaré in Portugal. What has she been up to? Has she already achieved her absolute goal? We are super curious, so time for another update from Evelien!

how to deal with setbacks
Evelien by studio Saharah

Last months didn’t really go as planned. I got injured during the Belgian championships and I’ve been going through some months of rehab since then. At first sight it looked like a minor injury and nothing to worry about, but a new diagnosis revealed. 2 teared calf muscles (one very big tear and one small). That was a huge setback I had to deal with. What should have been 3 weeks of rehab became many months..


From one injury into another

It was not the first time that an injury kept me out of the water. The last 4.5 years, I went from one injury into another. When I was almost through the whole rehab of one injury, another one arrived. I went through a knee injury, neck injury, foot injury, neck injury (again) and a calf injury. That was a tough period, I learned a lot about how to deal with setbacks. Sometimes I could continue kiting, sometimes I couldn’t.

Injuries are frustrating. You have a lot of plans and everything is going well. But when the injury arrives, all the plans are directly gone. It always seems to arrive at the worst possible moment. But is there ever a good moment to get injured? I don’t think so ;).

how to deal with setbacks
Evelien by Studio Saharah

How do you look back on all these injuries?

My injuries and rehabs did tell me a lot about myself. It took me quite some time, but I think that I can say that I learned to stay positive and calm during a rehab. Leaving the frustration aside.

Before my injuries, I didn’t listen to my body. I just passed my own limits, neglecting all signs and pushing through the pain. The only thing I wanted to do, was to train as much and as hard as possible. You can imagine why I injured myself 😉 With time, I learned to know my body better, recognize the signs and listen to my body. To be honest, I’m still not that good at it. I will still continue until I reach my limit. But maybe one day I will be able to stop just before my limit and don’t just push through. So would I have preferred not going through all these injuries? Yes and no.

How do you stay positive and focussed while dealing with setbacks?

Some mental strategies from my previous blog post help me with this (e.g. the body scan). My main goal during an injury is to get back, stronger and better then I was before. A lot of times, an injury shows me a part of my training that was neglected a bit or something I have to focus more on. For example, I am not born as a ballerina. Flexibility isn’t my strongest point and as a consequence not the most fun part of my training. My knee injury told me the importance of regular stretching. During rehab I did learn the right exercises for my body. Now I have a sequence of stretching exercises that I will do multiple times a week and after each session. 

Do you keep on exercising during injuries?

During my first injuries, I found it difficult to keep training next to rehab. Now, finding things I still can do, is the first thing I will be looking for. During my foot injury, I still could cycle and do a lot of upper body and core workouts. It feels good to stay active. I focus on what I still can do (next to rehab) and try to make them as fun as possible (e.g. I went on a bike packing holiday when I wasn’t allowed to kite).  This helps me to stay positive during the rehab. 

how to deal with setbacks
Evelien by Studio Saharah

How do you deal mentally with an injury?*

The mental side of an injury can be hard. It’s easy to get into a negative spiral. Injuries told me to pay more attention to the mental aspects involved with sports. It is okay to feel frustrated, angry or without energy when an injury arrives. I just accept these feelings in the beginning. After a few days I want to cope with my situation. I try to notice negative thoughts when they arise so I can stop them. I ask myself why I’m having these thoughts (maybe my neck hurts) and then I try to see the positive side. The positive side can be ‘how far I’ve already come’.

*Check also Evelien’s other blog about mental strategies to progress in kitesurfing, surfing or wing foiling.


Turning something negative into something positive

Injuries can also be a great moment to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but never had enough time for. It can be learning to play an instrument, learning a new language, cook some new recipes, read some books, catch up with friends… You are more than just a person that (kite)surfs or wing foils, never forget that 😉

Finally, I feel that being surrounded by the right people is important during an injury. So thanks to my family, friends, physio (Frederik Adriaensens from, sponsors to just be there, help me and make me laugh during the whole process. After 8 months out of the water, I’m happy to slowly start kiting again.

See you on the water, on smaller waves to start with 🙂

Thanks for sharing your story Evelien and giving some advice on how to deal with setbacks. It’s good to hear that you stay positive and focussed, even when things don’t turn out the way you want. We wish you a speedy recovery and looking forward to your next update!

Are you interested in some advice about what kite surfboard to get for big wave surfing? Check out this tech talk with Wieger and Evelien and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for the latest updates.