Thalia Panagi | Psychology
Sports injury is a common phenomenon among athletes since the majority of them experience an injury during their sport participation. An injury can be one of the worst experiences for an athlete as it can mean a number of different things to an athlete besides the physical pain they experience.
Under which circumstances can an injury be caused?
An injury can be caused by different reasons. It might be caused by physical factors, such as musculoskeletal anomaly, previous injury, poor field condition, over-training, bad weather conditions. Also, match and training conditions can cause an injury, as well as the time of participation and the sport mechanism. Finally, psychosocial factors namely lack of confidence, stress, negative thoughts/mood (intenseness, depression, anger, fatigue) can also cause an injury.
As a result, an injury produces an immediate imbalance in an athlete’s life for it can bring many psychological changes. Injuries affect the athlete’s self- confidence, self-esteem and can also become connected to fear, anger, sadness, isolation, intenseness, anxiety and lack of concentration.
How can we help athletes to cope with their injury and manage their psychological changes?
Sport Psychology can contribute to injury rehabilitation in several ways. How?
A Sport Psychologist can aid athletes to deal effectively with their injury by helping them with their injury process. A sport psychologist assists the athlete by providing him with emotional support for accepting and understanding the injury. Furthermore, by building trust and rapport with the injured athlete, a sport psychologist can inform the athlete about the nature of his injury, the goals of the treatment and the details of his restoration in corporation of the medical staff. Finally, the Sport Psychologist can teach the athlete how to use the main mental skills, which can help him adjust to the restoration process, to manage his pain, reduce his stress and anxiety and increase his self-esteem. These skills are: goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and positive self-talk. The usage of these skills can also be used to enhance performance on a consistent basis.
Social as well as emotional supports are very important for an injured athlete too. Social support includes coaches, athletic trainers, teammates, family and friends. Social support can be of use to injured athletes to endure their difficult times and accept a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Undoubtedly, social support is very important since it can help athletes to establish their self-confidence.
An injury can happen under many different circumstances. A comprehensive rehabilitation program, which includes social-emotional support, medical and psychological support can help the athlete to cope with his injury, recover and successfully return to his previous condition. Coaches as well as team physicians must consider the psychological and physical factors, whilst treating and coordinating care for injured athletes. Finally, it is important to highlight that systematic use of psychological skills can prevent the likelihood of an injury.