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Examining Hardiness, Coping and Stress-Related Growth Following Sport Injury

Salim, J., Wadey, R., & Diss, C. (2015). Examining Hardiness, Coping and Stress-Related Growth Following Sport Injury. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 1-16.

Mentioned articles : Carver, C. S. (1998). Resilience and thriving: Issues, models, and linkages.Journal of social issues54(2), 245-266.

Kobasa, S. C. (1979). Stressful life events, personality, and health: an inquiry into hardiness. Journal of personality and social psychology37(1), 1.

by Rachel Webb

The goal of this study was to identify and explain why some injured athletes who were high in hardiness would experience stress-related growth, and those with low hardiness were less likely to derive positive benefits from injury (Salim, Wadey, & Diss, 2015). Growth in this context is defined as a positive change that is the result of a demanding event that has propelled an individual to a now higher level of functioning than their original state (Carver, 1998). Demands that have been studied include stressors such as poor performance, car accidents, and family dysfunction, and although these studies support stressful events being used as vehicles to experiencing growth this study works to identify sport-injury as the specific stressor. Injury in sport has shown to be more unique than other life demands because not only can it be a frequent and accepted part of the sport, it also leaves the athlete physically incapacitated unlike other sport-related stressors. This incapacitation can lead to a greater sense of isolation, which can pose a significant threat to athletes’ identity and coping sources. Even further, if we take into account the aspects of a competitive athlete, which suggest preference for physical prowess, emphasize positivity, admiration for taking risks, and tolerating pain, we can see that injury will challenge many of these traits. This psychological demand that comes with the physical injury has been seen as defining the ability to acquire sometime of growth and perspective through the injury experience.

The three dimensions of stress-related growth that this study utilizes in understanding SRG are personal growth, psychologically based performance enhancements, and physical/technical developmental benefits. Based off of a previous study where a positive relationship between hardiness and SRG, there were also two coping strategies found (emotional support and positive reframing) which lead to the implication that athletes with higher hardiness also had higher SRG scores from these when utilizing coping strategies (Kobasa, 1979). These qualities allowed the athletes to have social support for emotional reasons and develop a positive frame for their injury. The authors of this study looked to then develop a more elaborate understanding of the hardiness-SRG relationship. Ultimately it was supported that athletes high in hardiness were able to experience SRG due to the fact that their social networks were able to provide an outlet for their emotions, allowing them to reframe the injury from a stressful event to a perceived challenge to overcome. Not having an emotional outlet was reported to result in a numerous negative outcomes such as athletes suppressing their feelings, expressing inauthentic responses to others, inability to reframe, and increased rumination. All of these aspects attributed to returning to the sport to early, reinjury, or a poor performance. It is well know that the sporting culture may inhibit an athlete from reporting their feelings or using social support due to the idea of being “tough” and what that must look like. This study, like many others challenges this culture, supporting the need to break those barriers in order to experience positive change after a sport-related injury.

On May 30, 2016

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