Improve Emotional Self-Efficacy in Injured Athletes with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go. Don’t forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of sports psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.
Injury is common in competitive athletics. These injuries can produce emotional issues and burnout in athletes. It is not known if mindfulness is helpful to athletes during injury and in returning to competition. In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness and Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy of Injured Athletes Returning to Sports: The Mediating Role of Competitive State Anxiety and Athlete Burnout.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9517234/ ) Tang and colleagues recruited injured elite athletes and had them complete a questionnaire measuring mindfulness, burnout, emotional self-efficacy, and competitive state anxiety.
They found that for the injured athletes the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of burnout and competitive state anxiety. In turn, the lower the levels of burnout and competitive state anxiety the higher the levels of emotional self-efficacy. These findings suggest that being mindful aids injured athletes in dealing with the psychological and emotional consequences of injury. In addition, causation cannot be determined in the present study but the results suggest that mindfulness training with injured athletes may aid in their recovery.
“The hardest thing, after all the work and all the time spent on training and technique, is just being fully present in the moment.” ― George Mumford
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Tang Y, Liu Y, Jing L, Wang H, Yang J. Mindfulness and Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy of Injured Athletes Returning to Sports: The Mediating Role of Competitive State Anxiety and Athlete Burnout. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Sep 16;19(18):11702. doi: 10.3390/ijerph191811702. PMID: 36141969; PMCID: PMC9517234.
Usually, both external environmental factors and internal psychological factors affect the self-efficacy of athletes returning to sports after an injury. Based upon COR theory, this study investigated mindfulness interventions’ effects on competitive state anxiety and burnout in injured athletes who are returning to sports. The study was conducted in South China from March to April 2022. The snowball and convenience sampling methods were used to select high-level sports teams’ injured athletes returning to sports, and a questionnaire survey was administered, from which 433 valid samples were obtained. Amos v. 26 was used to analyze the data. The results showed that mindfulness has a significant negative effect on competitive state anxiety and burnout, such that after strengthening the mindfulness intervention, athletes’ competitive state anxiety and burnout decreased and regulatory emotional self-efficacy increased. Further, this study indicated that athletes are prone to negative emotions after injury, and among athletes who returned to sports after injury, those with mindfulness interventions reported lower levels of competitive state anxiety and burnout. Hence, the study demonstrated that mindfulness can improve regulatory emotional self-efficacy in injured athletes who are returning to sports by reducing competitive state anxiety and burnout.