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Psychological readiness to return to sport: three key elements to help the practitioner decide whether the athlete is REALLY ready?
  1. Dale Forsdyke1,
  2. Adam Gledhill2,
  3. Clare Ardern3,4,5
  1. 1Applied Human Sciences Department, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, York St John University, York, UK
  2. 2Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  3. 3Aspetar Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  4. 4Division of Physiotherapy, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  5. 5School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dale Forsdyke, Applied Human Sciences Department, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, York St John University, Lord Mayors Walk, York YO31 7EX UK; d.forsdyke{at}

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Return to sport (RTS) outcomes after severe injury are consistently poor.1 ,2 Psychological factors are important influences on returning to sport3 yet what it means to be psychologically ready to RTS is unclear.4 Rarely will an athlete be held back from RTS because he/she is not psychologically ready to return. Psychological factors correlate with injury occurrence,5 therefore these factors should be offered greater weighting in RTS decision-making.

Characteristics of an athlete who is psychologically ready to RTS are multifaceted and include, among others: realistic expectations, high levels of self-efficacy and low levels of anxiety.1 ,4 ,6 Psychological readiness to RTS is likely influenced by multiple social agents, personal and contextual factors (eg, coaches, sports medicine practitioners, personality traits, performance level).4 Consequently, RTS decisions should be made from an interdisciplinary perspective, with multidimensional monitoring of psychological factors (eg, concurrently monitoring self-efficacy and re-injury anxiety levels).6

Psychological readiness to RTS is not commonly monitored in practice, despite specific instruments being available.7 Many practitioners feel underprepared to work within this area8 or might view evaluating psychological readiness to RTS as being outside their scope of their practice. On the …

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  • Contributors DF, AG and CA are justifiably credited with authorship, according to authorship criteria. DF and AG were jointly responsible for the original content and structure of the manuscript. CA offered collaborative critical support in appraising the content and structure and offered additional expert perspective. DF and AG completed critical revisions of the manuscript. All authors gave final approval of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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