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Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury
Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury

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3 Experiences of sport injury

While sport injury can have a significant psychological impact on both sport and exercise participants, their experiences may be slightly different. Therefore, throughout this course you will be drawing on examples from both sport and exercise. You will begin by exploring the experiences of one of the case studies, Travis.

Activity 3 Travis’s injury experience

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

In Section 1, you were introduced to our exercise case study Travis. Read the box below describing Travis’s experience of injury and then answer the question below.

What psychological factors has Travis experienced related to his injury?

Case study: Travis’s exercise injury – psychological factors

I’d been quite stressed at work before I sustained my injury as I’m in the process of bidding for a very large contract. Normally coming to the gym is my way of relieving stress but I couldn’t switch off – I just kept thinking about the contract while I was in the weights room on the day I was injured.

After getting injured I wasn’t allowed to train properly for a few weeks which meant I didn’t have my normal stress release and it made me feel frustrated and angry. I had all this anger about being injured and nowhere to direct it. I ended up taking it out on my family – my husband Trevor took the brunt of it. There were times when I was just so frustrated that I couldn’t go to the gym that I just wanted to cry.

(Travis, exercise participant)


Psychological factors are evident in Travis’s case study both before and after injury. Before injury he seemed to be experiencing high levels of stress which may have affected his performance in the gym and possibly contributed to his injury. Following the injury, he describes feelings of anger and frustration about not being able to exercise. If not addressed, these feelings could impact on his recovery from injury.

You can see in the activity you have just completed that injury has had a significant psychological impact on Travis as a recreational exerciser. In the next activity you will explore the devastating impact that an injury had on former Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Activity 4 Jessica Ennis-Hill’s injury experience

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

In 2008 heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill sustained an injury (stress fracture) that caused her to miss the Olympics where she was a medal contender. She described having a very emotional reaction to the news where she wanted to cry and explained that the timing of the injury, so close to the Olympics, intensified her response. Consider how Travis’s experiences (Activity 3) as an exercise participant differ from those of a sports participant such as Jessica Ennis-Hill?


It is evident from Travis’s and Jessica’s examples that injuries can have a significant psychological impact on both sport and exercise participants of any level. However, there may be differences in the experiences of exercise participants and sports participants due to the effect of competitions. For example, Jessica’s reaction was more pronounced because it was so close to the Olympics and her injury meant that she would not be able to compete. An exercise participant wouldn’t have this factor. This demonstrates how psychological reactions to injury can be influenced by factors such as timing. You will examine some of the factors that can influence reactions to injury in more depth in Sessions 5 and 6.