Critical Pause: Athletes’ Stories of Lockdown During COVID-19

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 Liverpool John Moores University
  • 2 University of Bolton
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This study explored the experiences of elite athletes during the initial stages of lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The eight recruited participants (three females, five males) were asked to tell a story of their lockdown experience. Narrative analysis was used to explore the athletes’ stories. The athletes’ narrative is best represented in four distinct sections: (a) threat to goals, (b) ongoing consequences, (c) overcoming COVID-19, and (d) adapting to COVID-19. Four narrative themes were also coconstructed from the athletes’ stories: (a) factors athletes found challenging, (b) loss, (c) strategies that benefitted athletes psychologically, and (d) silver linings. Combined, these findings suggest that the initial stages of lockdown are best described as a critical pause. The authors present applied implications for athletes and sport psychology practitioners. The authors also recommend that future research investigate the longitudinal effect of prolonged lockdown on athletes’ lives and a potential return to sport.

Whitcomb-Khan, McGinty-Minister, Bicker, Swettenham, and Tod are with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Wadsworth is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Bolton, Bolton, United Kingdom.

Whitcomb-Khan (g.whitcomb@2018.ljmu.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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