RETURN TO COMPETITION FOLLOWING SERIOUS INJURY: A SELF-DETERMINATION PERSPECTIVE IN WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The purpose of the current study was to examine the psychological responses of injured gymnasts that had returned successfully to competition. The study specifically focused on the return phase of the rehabilitation process and utilised the self-determination theory to underpin the research. A qualitative research design was utilised for data collection purposes, through a semi-structured interview process. Female gymnasts (N=4) competing at National level formed the sample. Content analysis was used to examine the data. Findings indicated that concerns over competence, autonomy and relatedness were experienced by the gymnast’s when returning to their sport. Further analysis showed that specific concerns over fear of re-injury, lack of control, self-presentational concerns and pressure to return all featured in hindering the return process. Social support from significant others, including coaches and teammates, having control over when they returned, and achieving goals were all highlighted as factors facilitating the return to sport phase post injury. Findings support the usefulness of increased self-determination when expediting an injured athlete’s recovery.
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