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Coping with Setbacks

Setbacks! Athlete injuries or illness – if you’re working in sport as a coach, sports scientist and definitely a physiotherapist or medic for long enough you will encounter it.

There are so many approaches, but one I read about from child psychology has always stuck with me by Christine Eiser 1990.

She identified 3 factors;

1) The degree to which the issue is life threatening or disruptive of daily routine

I’m currently working with David Brooks at AFC Bournemouth, helping him recover from cancer – one of the biggest things I’ve been able to do is given him a new routine and integrate training into the club’s routine.

2) Understanding and attributions of causality, where the most realistic attributions are predictive of better adjustment. Interestingly children who make internal attributions exhibit poorer coping, e.g. taking the blame for something they couldn’t control doesn’t help.

3) The supportiveness of the family and network, importantly being open and proactive in communication supports fuller recovery.

Using this 3 step focus can really help you channel your efforts into supporting athletes.

*Christine’s work largely mimics the adult literature on illness too.