Psychological Readiness to Return to Competitive Sport Following Injury: A Qualitative Study

in The Sport Psychologist

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Leslie PodlogUniversity of Utah

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Sophie M. BanhamUniversity of Roehampton

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Ross WadeyUniversity of Roehampton

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James C. HannonUniversity of Utah

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The purpose of this study was to examine athlete experiences and understandings of psychological readiness to return to sport following a serious injury. A focus group and follow-up semistructured interviews were conducted with seven English athletes representing a variety of sports. Three key attributes of readiness were identified including: (a) confidence in returning to sport; (b) realistic expectations of one’s sporting capabilities; and (c) motivation to regain previous performance standards. Numerous precursors such as trust in rehabilitation providers, accepting postinjury limitations, and feeling wanted by significant others were articulated. Results indicate that psychological readiness is a dynamic, psychosocial process comprised of three dimensions that increase athletes’ perceived likelihood of a successful return to sport following injury. Findings are discussed in relation to previous research and practical implications are offered.

Podlog is with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. Banham is with the Dept. of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton, London, UK. Wadey was with the Dept. of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton at the time of this research and is now with the School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, UK. Hannon was with the Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah at the time of this research and is now with the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

Address author correspondence to Leslie Podlog at les.podlog@utah.edu.
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