Learning from the Experiences of Collegiate Athletes Living through a Season- or Career-Ending Injury


  • Matt A Moore Ball State University
  • Sasa Vann
  • Allison Blake




An athlete’s identity is often related to the goals of their team and their ability to achieve excellence in sport. A threat to an athlete’s identity is a season- or career-ending injury. Athletes can respond to season- or career-ending injuries in ways detrimental to their psychosocial well-being (Ivarsson, Tranaeus, Johnson, & Stenling 2017). This study built upon existing knowledge by seeking to better understand the lived experiences of Division I collegiate athletes who experienced a season- or career-ending injury. There is a need for ongoing recommendations for helping athletes process their injuries. Researchers used a descriptive phenomenological approach. Researchers interviewed ten college athletes who experienced a season- or career-ending injury. Themes included: (1) physical and emotional stress, (2) resistance to resiliency, (3) importance of relationships with others, and (4) appreciation and cultivation for new possibilities outside of sport. This research provided insight for behavioral health professionals on injury response. This included the need for Posttraumatic Growth responses such as (1) building strong support pre- and post-injury, (2) recognizing healthy coping mechanisms, (3) cultivating new identities for athletes, (4) helping an athlete with identity loss, (5) helping athletes recognize new possibilities post-injury, and (6) helping an athlete maintain an appreciation for life.

Author Biography

Matt A Moore, Ball State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Social Work