Allison Pineau is a woman of determination. At a young age, she set her mind on playing handball, and knew she was destined for greatness. Today, she is a top competitor on the international handball scene. With merits as an Olympic silver medalist in Rio 2016, a member of the All Star team, the 2009 International Handball Federation’s World Player of the Year, and a player with 200 national team matches and more than 500 goals, she is often referred to as a true handball icon.
Growing up Allison possessed extraordinary physical abilities and tried everything from ballet to table tennis before she was introduced to the sport that would change her life. When she set her foot on the handball court and felt the strength of a supportive team and the thrilling excitement of the game, she was hooked. Today, Allison is thankful for the position she achieved, but she’s quick to emphasize all the work that she has put in.
-I quickly discovered I had talent, but I also knew I had to fight to get somewhere. I’ve been fighting hard to get where I am today, both mentally and physically.
Allison believes she was raised to have a fighting mentality. However, her mother wanted her to focus her energy on doing well in school. At first, she was not very supportive of Allison’s growing interest in handball, but once she saw Allison play, she knew this was her destiny.
Allison has been a professional player for more than ten years now. As she gains seniority as a player, her role as mentor to her teammates is becoming more prominent. Learning from more senior players is something that has continued to benefit her over the years. She has played alongside some of her teammates through her entire carrier, and she points out the lifelong support and community in handball is a unique part of the sport. Every player has a specific role on the team. Some are fast, some are strong, but Allison’s role as a leader of the team goes beyond physical ability. She does it with her brain, both by her mentorship of the younger teammates and her strategic thinking and playing style on the court. Being strong is far from enough, Allison explains.
-Being mentally prepared is just as important as being strong. I am a smart player. I would say that mental strength counts for 70% of a players’ success. This aspect of the game is often underestimated.
Allison believes that talent is not static. She may be an excellent player today, but it is not guaranteed that she will be as a good player next year, or even next month. To avoid becoming complacent, she always focuses on how to reinvent herself and become even better, in all aspects of her life. She’s analyzing her sleeping habits, diet, mind-set and preventive measures so she can constantly improve as a player and as a person.
– I had faith in my dream, and now I’m living it. There’s been many obstacles on the way but that’s life, and it motivates me to fight even harder. As long as I focus on my goals and live my life without regrets, nothing can stop me.
Sports-related injuries are common at all ages, but preventing injuries by being physically prepared has never been more important to Allison. She has experienced her fair share of injuries and is currently doing rehab for a cross ligament tear.
– Almost all players suffer from some kind of injury, and it can have devastating effects on one’s career. To me, it’s crucial to exercise to strengthen my body and adapt my playing style when an injury occurs.
Allison describes a tougher game today than when she grew up. Players are faster, fitter, heavier and stronger now. These reasons suggest why there are so many injuries that can occur while playing, she explains. In addition to preventive exercises, Allison also wears Rehband’s protective supports. Her favorites are the classic blue elbow and knee sleeves. She alternates wearing compression socks and compression sleeves, both during games and after to support a faster recovery.
Being restricted to the bench due to an injury can be tough, but Allison is staying true to her fighting mindset. Even though she has many years left as a professional player, she’s preparing for her life after handball by studying economics. Yet again, she’s living proof that a strategic thinking and hard work allow for a life of no regrets.
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