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Elite female footballers' stories of sociocultural factors, emotions, and behaviours prior to anterior cruciate ligament injury

Journal article
Authors A. Ivarsson
U. Johnson
Jón Karlsson
Mats Börjesson
M. Hagglund
M. B. Andersen
M. Walden
Published in International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Volume 17
Issue 6
Pages 630-646
ISSN 1612-197X
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Institute of Clinical Sciences
Pages 630-646
Language en
Keywords anterior cruciate ligament, athletic injuries, elite athletes, female, athletes, psychosocial factors, soccer, sport injury, psychosocial factors, risk-factors, prediction, recovery, players, return, challenges, prevention, psychology, Social Sciences - Other Topics, Psychology
Subject categories Health Sciences, Orthopedics


The aim of the study was to examine how players' perceptions of sociocultural factors and intra- and interpersonal aspects of sporting experiences may have influenced the emotions, cognitions, and behaviours of elite female soccer players prior to the occurrence of ACL injuries. The research questions guiding the study were: (a) how did female elite soccer players perceive that their psychosocial experiences were related to their cognitive, physiological, and emotional states prior to their ACL injuries, and (b) how did the players feel their perceived states influenced their behaviours prior to injury occurrence. The participants consisted of the total population of female players (N = 18) competing in the Swedish women's elite league, who incurred a total ACL tear during the 2012 season. Using a semi-structured interview guide, all players were interviewed post-season. We represented the data using a storytelling approach of aggregated creative nonfiction. The aggregated stories showed sociocultural rules and expectations of overtraining and placing pressure on athletes to play even if they were not physically or psychologically fit. Responding to pressures with potentially risk-increasing behaviours might raise the probability of becoming injured through a number of pathways. Team managers, coaches, and members of the medical team are recommended to develop environments that stimulate the players to engage in adaptive stress-recovery and risk-decreasing behaviours.

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