Background Many athletes remain uninjured during their careers. Little is known about if and which psychological factors that may contribute to protect from athletic injuries.
Objective Do uninjured athletes use buffering coping skills and/or other protecting psychological factors to remain injury free?
Design Qualitative interview study.
Setting Face to face interviews, using a semi-structured interview guide with open questions, with Swedish elite athletes.
Patients (or Participants) Six athletes (four males and two females), 23–25 years old, competing at elite level in team sports or running without severe time-loss injuries during their careers volunteered to participate. The definition of uninjured was less than a total of four weeks absence from training due to injury or pain. Time for competing varied from five years to nineteen years.
Main Outcome Measurements The inductive thematic content analysis was aiming to identity common psychological factors in the narratives.
Results The analysis showed six themes that were suggested to influence the athletes to perform and compete without sustaining severe injuries. The themes with examples of underlying categories were 1) structure during the daily life (time management, logistic), 2) all-round training (late specialisation), 3) knowledge (education), 4) coping strategies (acceptance, goal oriented), 5) recovery strategies (body awareness, food and sleep habits) and 6) social support (support from coaches and parents).
Conclusions Adaptive coping strategies and identified psychological factors are suggested to have possible impact on athletes’ potential to stay uninjured. This study can play a role of generating hypotheses for testing in future studies, until then athletes and coaches are encouraged to bear these findings in mind in order to prevent injuries and support athletes.
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