Chárthaigh, N. N.*, Kouthouris, C., Goudas, M., Theodorakis, Y.
Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, University of Thessaly, Karyes, 42100, Trikala, Greece
Background: Extreme sports tend to expose athletes to elevated levels of risk of injury and athletes often struggle with injury-related psychological demands. Objectives: To explore how extreme sport injury affects athletes psychological well-being, to determine coping strategies used and present mental skills to enhance coping. This research accounts for how physical trauma is interconnected with mental disposition. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 extreme sports athletes from various sports under specific criteria. An interpretative thematic analysis with inductive reasoning was utilised. Results & Discussion: Injury-related emotions included fear, frustration, anger, worry and feelings of depression, corresponding to previous research. Less commonly recorded emotions such as paranoid feelings, insecurity, irritation, nervousness, jealousy and feeling overwhelmed were also reported. In terms of the athletes’ greatest challenge regarding injury, physical elements dominated for 4 participants, psychological elements dominated for 3 participants and 3 participants found both physical and psychological issues equally challenging. Sporting identity was significantly impacted after injury. This study extends existing literature in reporting that egotistical attitudes are common in the realm of extreme sports and mental toughness was perceived to be linked with reduced injury occurrence and enhanced wellbeing. Coping strategies such as social support, motivation to recover, strength and conditioning training, acceptance and tracking progress aided rehabilitation. Study targets were met, and results provide a conclusive insight into this research topic. Applied Feedback: Proposed mental skills for participants included thought logs, goal-setting, visualisation and relaxation amongst others. Conclusions: Sport injury rehabilitation for high-risk sports should address psychological aspects of injury to advance the healing process and the return to sport.
Keywords: extreme sports; psychological affects; coping; rehabilitation; mental skills.