1 Why would psychological interventions work?
You begin your investigation of psychological interventions to prevent or reduce the risk of sport injury by reflecting back on what you have learned so far and considering how and why psychological interventions might work.
Activity 1 Psychological interventions to reduce the risk of injury
Think back to Session 3 of this course and the psychological factors that may increase the risk of injury (e.g. stress and personality). Then identify how psychological interventions could potentially address these factors and reduce the risk of injury.
As you saw in Session 3, those with greater levels of stress are at higher risk of developing a sport injury. Therefore, it is intuitive to think that stress management strategies aimed at helping the individual to control their stress levels would reduce their risk of injury. Research evidence supports this (Gledhill, Forsdyke and Murray, 2018) as you will examine later in this session. The Stress and Injury model (Williams and Andersen, 1998) (Figure 2 of Session 3) identifies ‘coping resources’ as mediating the stress response. Coping resources can be defined as ‘behaviours and social networks that help the individual deal with the problems, joys, disappointments and stresses of life’ (Andersen and Williams, 1988, p. 302).
Stress management strategies can therefore be thought of as a coping resource. Such strategies can work by either:
- changing the perception of an event (i.e. not perceiving an event as stressful), or
- by buffering the effects of a stressful event (i.e. minimising the symptoms of stress).
You will examine a range of stress management strategies in the next section.
As distraction and attention narrowing are two proposed mechanisms for how stress can lead to an injury you may also have thought that psychological techniques aimed at improving concentration could be beneficial. Concentration training may improve the individual’s focus and prevent them from being distracted and missing important cues.
There is debate around whether personality traits (characteristics) can be changed, but stress management strategies may also help to reduce the characteristics such as anxiety and anger that you looked at in Session 3.