The Purpose of this study was to document how competitive athletes perceive psychological readiness to return to sport (PRRS) following the UK COVID-19 lockdowns. Furthermore, this study also set out to compare these perceptions to previous conceptualisations of PRRS following injury. Several focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted with six competitive English athletes from a variety of sporting backgrounds. The three key dimensions of PRRS – confidence to return to sport, realistic expectations in ones sporting capabilities and motivation to regain previous performance standards – were shown to be identical to previous conceptualisations of the theory irrespective of the context of the return. However, dissimilarities were observed in the associated lower and higher order themes contributing to the construction of these dimensions. Numerous new emergent precursors such as the orientation of the sport and prior experience of lockdowns were also articulated. The results from this study support the notion of PRRS being a multidimensional psychosocial process when applied to a return to competitive sport following the COVID-19 lockdowns. Nevertheless, additional dissimilarities observed between the associated precursors, and lower and higher order themes conclude that PRRS should be considered subjective in nature. Therefore, in understanding the factors affecting an athletes PRRS, one must consider the context of which the athlete is returning to sport from.
Due to pandemic-related data collection restrictions, some of the data in this project may have been simulated
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