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Relationship Between Stress and Injury

Injuries are primarily caused by physical factors, but psychological factors have an impact


Athletes with higher levels of stress experience more injuries and illness

-Stress-prone personality types have higher injury rates
-Low social support and coping skills increases injury rates
-Major stressors and little hassles
-Stress management interventions decrease risk of injury


Why Does Stress Impact Injury Risk?

Stress causes attentional disruption
-State anxiety narrows attention
-State anxiety increases internal distractors

Stress increases muscle tension, motor coordination problems, and reduces flexibility

Hardcore attitudes encourage injuries
-“No pain, no gain” fails to teach athletes the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain”
-“More is better” and “Give 110%” may lead to burnout and overuse injuries

Pattern of replacing “worthless” injured players


Psychological Reactions to Injury

Grief response (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance)

3 general response categories:
Injury-relevant information processing
-Asking questions, seeking understanding

Emotional upheaval and reactive behavior
-Isolated, frustrated, anxious, depressed, denial, self-pity

Positive outlook and coping
-Acceptance, optimistic, proactive attitude


Psychology of Injury Recovery

PST positively influences recovery, mood during recovery, coping, and confidence
-Positive self-talk
-Relaxation and imagery
-Healing imagery

Foster social support

Cope with setbacks

Systematic desensitization of fears

Focus on quality and mental skills training


Psychology of Pain

Healing imagery
Drawing the pain
Viewing the pain as outside of you
Make the pain worse



Transitions occur at all stages of life:
Changing schools
Aging up in sport
Specializing in sport (giving up other pursuits)
Finishing a season or sport career
Changing jobs
Empty nest syndrome

Change is a part of life


Athletic Transitions

Youth to high school
High school to college
College to professional
Athletic retirement


Specialization and Identity

Early sport specialization is more prevalent

Implications for identity formation
-Narrow identity
-Foreclosed identity

You are many different things
-Sport is just one part of what you do


Factors that Influence Transition Process

-Anticipatory socialization
-Identity and self-esteem
-Personal management skills
-Social support systems
-Voluntary v. Involuntary transition


Easing the Transition

Recognizing skills acquired
-Tenacity, organization, adaptability, dedication and perseverance, patience, self-motivation, ability to perform under pressure, goal setting and management

Maintaining balance in life
Approach other areas of life the way you approached sport