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The present study adopted a qualitative, exploratory approach to describe the underlying emotional climate among injured athletes within team sport environments. Nine elite athletes undergoing long-term injury rehabilitation (LTIR) participated in semi-structured interviews to describe their LTIR experience. A general inductive analysis extracted three higher-order themes: (a) emotional trauma, (b) emotional climate, and (c) emotional acting. Athletes reported experiencing emotional trauma throughout LTIR. To maintain in-group norms, they described engaging in avoidance behaviors and reported suppressing negative affect for fear of negative evaluation. They also reported frequently controlling emotions in public using acting strategies. Athletes perceived these emotionally inhibitive behaviors as encouraged within their team environment. These results have important implications for the identification and treatment of emotionally destructive behaviors that could potentially delay an athlete’s psychological rehabilitation from athletic injury.
The authors are with the School of Sport Science, Exercise, and Health at the University of Western Australia. E-mail: email@example.com.