Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Jessica Mucthler

Committee Member 1

Tamerah Hunt

Committee Member 2

Brandonn Harris


Background: Returning an injured athlete to sport before they are both physically and psychologically ready can lead to increased psychological concerns. Traditionally, return to play decisions are based on physical outcomes and it is rare if an athlete is held back from returning to sport if he or she is not psychologically ready to return. Therefore, athletes may be returning to play before they are psychologically ready. Purpose: The purpose of the present study is to investigate the psychological readiness of the athlete to return to play following injury, and the degree to which psychological readiness was considered by the athletic trainer (AT) when making the return to play decision. Methods: Student-athletes between 18-25 years of age currently returning to play from an injury that resulted in a minimum of one missed practice or competition were included in the study. The corresponding AT making return to play decisions were also included. Questionnaires were given to the student-athlete and the corresponding AT on the day before or day of return to play. Student-athletes completed the Injury-Psychological Readiness to Return to Sport Scale (I-PRRS), and the Athlete Fear Avoidance Questionnaire (AFAQ). ATs answered a Likert scale question assessing their degree of consideration of psychological readiness specific to the athlete. Data Analysis: Student-athletes were grouped based on their perceived psychological readiness, identified as: I-PRRS scores > 50 = Ready, and I-PRRS scores < 50 = Not Ready. Descriptive statistics presented demographic information of the athletes and ATs, overall I-PRRS scores, overall AFAQ scores and overall degree of consideration. Independent t-tests were used to compare AFAQ scores, and degree of consideration scores between groups. Significance level was set to p < 0.05, and effect sizes were calculated. Results: The Ready group reported significantly less fear avoidance as compared to the Not Ready group (Ready: 14.76 + 3.75, Not Ready: 22.59 + 8.71; P = 0.003; ES = 0.89). No differences were found in AT degree of consideration between groups. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that not all athletes returning to play are highly confident in their ability to return to play, and the athletes not highly confident have higher self-reported fear avoidance. Regardless of group, the ATs providing care to these athletes and making return to play decisions overall reported only slightly considering psychological readiness when making their decision. Implementation of psychological readiness and fear avoidance questionnaires when making return to play decisions may be beneficial to ensure athletes are confident and not fearful in returning to play.

Research Data and Supplementary Material