Social Support and Psychological Responses to Injury: Examining the Differences Between Team and Individual Sports
University of Wales
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The purpose of the present study was to further examine athletes’ psychological responses to injury during each phase of recovery. A second aim of study was to compare the effects of social support between team and individual sports performers. In an effort to gain understanding of various athletes injury experiences, semi-structured interviews were conducted on hockey players (n=2) and distance runners (n=2) who had previously sustained an injury. Results revealed no evident differences in the way team and individual sports performers psychologically responded to athletic injury. However, in terms of social support, team performers required a greater need for support provided by their coaches whereas individual performers required more support from their training partners throughout the course of rehabilitation. The study in general found that athletes experienced a lack of informational support at the onset of injury, and the two predominant types of support received during rehabilitation were emotional and tangible support. From these findings coaches and team-mates must be educated to understand the importance of providing sufficient and appropriate types of social support in order to facilitate an athlete’s recovery from injury. With regards to psychological responses, social support acts as coping resource and therefore must be optimally matched to specific stressors in order to successfully buffer the effects of stress. Support networks must therefore identify the most appropriate types of support in which the athlete requires throughout each phase of recovery.
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