Injury: it's not just a physical thing

Experiencing an injury prior to or during the ‘Biggest Show on Earth’ can be understandably devastating. 

Sport injuries are not just physical events. Psychology has a large role to play in understanding both the causes and consequences of injury and research indicates that the risk of being injured can be influenced by how athletes respond to stressful situations. 

A hockey player in a crucial semi-final match may feel that he is not able to cope with the demands of the situation.  So his body may respond to this stress in two ways that could increase the likelihood of injury. 

First, the player will experience increased muscle tension that could lead to strains or sprains and may lead to awkward landings.  Second, stress leads to decreased narrowing of peripheral vision leaving the player less able to detect players, sticks or balls that could result in collisions. 

The likelihood of athletes experiencing such a stress response can be influenced by how much sport and non-sport stress they have experienced in the build-up to the Games, their personality and the coping resources that they have available to them. 

Athletes would do well to develop their range of coping resources such as relaxation skills and thought stopping as well as ensuring they have a good support network around them.