The psychological impact of social support on sports performers, with specific regard to self-confidence returning to sport following athletic injury
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The purpose of the present study was to examine how social support may have an effect on an athlete’s confidence on return to competition. Four participants were recruited from sports clubs in the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. Participants’ ages ranged from 19 to 21 (M = 20, SD = ±0.82) with an equal gender divide. Participants’ sports comprised football (n=1), rugby (n=1), and netball (n=2). The injuries sustained were torn ankle ligaments (n=3) and an ulnar styloid fracture of the right wrist (n=1). All of which had left them unable to participate in their sport for 6 weeks or longer. Participants were interviewed using semi structured interviews which were based on a review of previous literature (e.g. Podlog and Eklund, 2006; Johnston and Carroll, 1998; Magyar and Duda, 2000). Probes were included in the interview guide to obtain responses that were as consistent as possible in terms of depth and complexity (Patton, 2002), yet were kept open-ended to allow for the flow of conversation and retrieve maximal information. Evidence from the interviews suggests that social support plays a role as a source of confidence, particularly that of informational support, which was found to be of significant importance when helping an athlete to regain self confidence after athletic injury. From these results coaches and medical personnel need to be educated to ensure they know how to give the correct social support to provide athletes with a smooth transition to full participation. Future research should consider conducting a longitudinal study to provide understanding of self confidence throughout the recovery from injury process.
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