Psychological Factors that Contribute to a Successful Return to Competitive Sport After a Serious Injury
University of Wales
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The aim of this study was to discover the psychological factors that contribute to a successful return to competitive sport after a serious injury. Despite increased academic interest in this area, there remains a need for further research into an athlete’s post-injury experiences to identify those factors which promote a successful return to competition. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to explore in detail an athletes’ perception of their injury experience and their rehabilitation. The study was based on eight semi-structured interviews with athletes who had suffered a serious injury within the last two (sic) which had resulted in at least a 3 month rehabilitation period, but who were now back playing competitive sport regularly. The results indicated that social support was the most influential factor for a successful return for an injured athlete, followed by the role of motivation, goal setting and self confidence. The study also confirmed that all athletes were constantly plagued with the negative thought of re-injury. Practical implications of this study include persuading rehabilitation programs of the importance of a robust social support system and the ways it can increase confidence, well being and performance (Ryan & Deci, 2007). Another issue to highlight is the role of coaches who can mitigate the potential stressors faced by injured athletes (Podlog & Eklund, 2007). Finally, the role of self efficacy and motivation should be increased through the use of appropriate goal setting. Suggested future research should look into which type of social support would be the most beneficial for injured individual intent on returning to competition.
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