THE ink had hardly dried on last week’s column about Alex Tilley and the stillness in an athlete’s mind when I heard the skier had crashed and broken her ankle. 

The stillness broken, the turning up of the non-stop radio in the mind would have been inevitable as Alex lay on the snow after a crash in training that left the athlete facing surgery in Austria. 

In many ways this is simply the nature of the sport. 

Skiing is fast, and can appear aggressive to the untrained eye.

Travelling at speed to weave your way between blue and red poles takes the athlete to the edge, but at the same time there is a calmness.

They make it look easy - like any top athlete in any sport when they are in flow there is an ease to their movements. 

It almost gives the onlooker a belief that THEY could do it. At least until we actually try it and get a fuller understanding of how talented these athletes are. 

I had just turned on my phone to receive a message from Noel Baxter saying Alex was just about to go for surgery after a crash in training. 

My mind quickly pictured everything that must have unfolded to leave Alex sat there in a hospital gown. 

Having experienced several surgeries over my sporting life I know it is not a place you want to be, especially in an Olympic year. 

However, the athlete can have a mindset that helps them break this down and make sense of it.

What is this mindset and how can it benefit us? 

Over the last year we have all faced challenges that we might have perceived as threats.

This triggers certain emotions within us that are then displayed in our behaviours. 

Maybe you find yourself acting in a way that you later think ‘why did I do that’ or regret your behaviour. Does this sound familiar? 

In psychology this is known as being in an amygdala dominant state.

In other words, it is where we find ourselves being RUN by our emotions. 

Think of a time when you have had something happen to you, and it has triggered certain emotions followed by a reaction that is so fast you don’t always have control. 

This response is what keeps us alive if we are in danger, but the paradox of this system is it also shuts off the more logical part of our brains.

And in certain situations we would benefit from both areas of our brain working together. 

In this way, the trigger of injury leaves an athlete open to a roller-coaster of emotions that puts them into an amygdala dominant state.

This can then turn the inner narrative into one of fear and frustration.

It is in these pressure situations that not just an athlete but us humans would benefit from moving from an emotional state into a more logical state. 

A more calm and alert state is where we find optimal performance. 

When you awake from surgery and you are aware that time has not paused on your race season, it becomes a struggle sometimes trying to balance your emotional responses with logical rational steps. 

In Alex’s case this is where the team around her will shine. 

I know the plan from surgery to snow will already be set and that Alex herself will grow both as an athlete and a human from this experience. 

In sports psychology they talk about the three Ps in performance - planning, preparation, and persistence.

They are all traits that both Alex and her team possess. 

So, although that inner stillness that seen Tilley mix it with the world’s best may have been temporally disturbed, I know she will approach rehabilitation with what is known as a managed emotional intelligence mindset.  

Daniel Goldman’s work around the benefits of all humans working on their emotional intelligence is ground-breaking. Along with my physical rehabilitation, it has played a key role in teaching me to live with paralysis.