Down but Not Out: Athlete Responses to Season-Ending Injuries

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
  • 2 University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • 3 US Ski Association
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This investigation sought to extend the existing scientific literature regarding the role of psychological processes in athletic injury rehabilitation. Specifically, the study examined (a) psychological responses of injured athletes to season-ending injuries, and (b) long-term benefits athletes perceived they obtained from their injuries. In-depth interviews were conducted with US Ski Team athletes (N = 21) who experienced injuries during racing seasons from 1990 to 1994. The data were analyzed using the content analysis procedures described by Scanlan, Stein, and Ravizza (1989). Relative to athletes’ reactions to being injured, 136 raw data themes were extracted which coalesced into 4 general dimensions: (a) injury-relevant information processing/awareness, (b) emotional upheaval/reactive behavior, (c) positive outlook/coping attempts, and (d) other. With respect to injury benefits, 81 raw data themes emerged and formed 4 dimensions: (a) personal growth, (b) psychologically- based performance enhancements, (c) physical-technical development, and (d) none. The results are discussed in relation to existing models of injury recovery and stress.

Eileen Udry is with the School of Physical Education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5193. Daniel Gould and Dana Bridges are with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27412-5001. Laurie Beck is with the US Ski Association, Park City, UT 84060.

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