Human Kinetics and Physical Education Project Topics

Athletic Identity, Grit and Self Efficacy as Determinants of Sport Injury, Rehabilitation and Recovery Among Athletes of Oyo State

Athletic Identity, Grit and Self Efficacy as Determinants of Sport Injury, Rehabilitation and Recovery Among Athletes of Oyo State.




The main objective of the study is to examine athletic identity, grit and self efficacy as determinants of sport injury, rehabilitation and recovery among athletes of Oyo state.

The specific objectives of the study were as follows:

  • To compare locus of control, grit and self-efficacy in athletes and non-athletes.
  • To examine the relationship between locus of control, grit and self-efficacy in athletes and non-athletes.


  • What is the comparism among locus of control, grit and self-efficacy in athletes and non-athletes?
  • What is the relationship between locus of control, grit and self-efficacy in athletes and non-athletes?





The review of literature is divided into eight sections.  The first section describes the history of athletic training.  Within this section the field of athletic training is discussed with particular attention directed at the route to becoming an ATC and the required competencies ATCs must posses.  The second section provides a brief overview of sport psychology and mental skills training.  The third to fifth sections define and provide an overview of imagery, goal setting, and self-talk, respectively.  These sections include types, theories, and evidence of imagery, goal setting, and self-talk effectiveness in athletic populations.  The sixth section describes the use of mental skills training with injured athletes.  It details the use and effectiveness of imagery, goal setting, and self-talk with aiding in the recovery of injured athletes.  The seventh section discusses the role of ATCs in working with injured athletes.  It details the main topics of study within the athletic training literature regarding mental skills training with injured athletes.  The eighth and final section defines self-efficacy and the need to research the self-efficacy of ATCs in using mental skills techniques with injured athletes.


Athletic training is defined as a practice that “encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities” (NATA, 2012).  Currently, to become an ATC, individuals must graduate from a Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training (CAATE) accredited program and pass a national certification exam administered by the Board of Certification (BOC).  However, the path to becoming an ATC was not always as clear and concise. The route to becoming an ATC has dramatically changed in the last 55 years (Craig, 2003).  Beginning in 1959, the first athletic training curriculum was approved by the National Athletic Training Association (NATA).  The athletic training curriculum was very similar to that of a physical education major except that it included an advanced athletic training course and laboratory practice (Delforge & Behnke, 1999).  Then in 1969, the first undergraduate athletic training programs were recognized by the NATA.  In addition, the Professional Education Committee (PEC) was formed to evaluate and recommend NATA recognition of the first undergraduate athletic training programs.  During this time period the four ways to become an ATC included: graduation from a NATA-approved athletic training education program, completion of an apprenticeship program, graduation from a school of physical therapy, and a special consideration route (Delforge & Behnke, 1999).

In the 1980s in order to unify the field, the NATA implemented a resolution that stated that all NATA-approved undergraduate education programs offer a major field of athletic training.  During this time period there were two ways to become an ATC: graduation from an athletic training major from a college or university or completion of an internship in athletic training (Delforge & Behnke, 1999).  Then in 1989 the BOC was established to serve as an independent entity that provided a certification program for entry-level athletic trainers and recertification standards for ATCs.  The BOC is the only accredited certifying body for athletic trainers in the United States.  In order to sit for the BOC Examination, individuals had to complete either the athletic training curriculum or internship.

As the field of athletic training progressed more reforms and changes occurred.  In order to have consistency within athletic training education programs the Joint Review Committee on Education Programs in Athletic Training (JRC-AT) was established under the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Profession Programs (CAAHEP) (Delforge & Behnke, 1999).  The CAAHEP became responsible for reviewing and accrediting educational programs in athletic training.  As athletic training curriculum and education matured, the route to certification dwindled as the internship route to certification was eliminated.  As of 2004, in order to sit for the BOC Examination and become an ATC, athletic training students must graduate from a fouryear accredited institution (Craig, 2003).

More recently, the JRC-AT became the CAATE and acts as the new certifying body for entry-level athletic training education programs.  The CAATE is responsible for defining the standards and practices for all accredited athletic training programs in the United States.  Today, the CAATE currently oversees 343 undergraduate and 24 entry-level graduate programs (CAATE, 2012).  The transformation of athletic training education programs over time has created a more unified and standard process for becoming an ATC. ATCs are required to learn and understand specific competencies set by the NATA.

The 5th edition of the NATA Athletic Training Education Competencies (2011) specifies the skills and proficiencies required of entry-level ATCs. These competencies are composed of the Foundational Behaviors of Professional Practice, Clinical Integration Proficiencies (CIP), and the following eight content areas: Evidence-Based Practice, Prevention and Health Promotion, Clinical Examination and Diagnosis, Acute Care of Injury and Illness, Therapeutic Interventions,

Psychosocial Strategies and Referral, Healthcare Administration, and Professional Development and Responsibility (NATA, 2011).  Of particular interest to this paper is the Psychosocial Strategies and Referral content.   

Within the Psychosocial Strategies and Referral content, ATCs are required to understand, recognize, and intervene with clients and patients who exhibit abnormal emotional, social, and mental behaviors.  Additionally, ATCs should understand the connection between mental health, injury, and recovery in order to use interventions that facilitate the return to participation (NATA, 2011).  Specifically, the Psychosocial Strategies and Referrals require that ATCs understand psychosocial strategies which include, but are not limited to, goal setting, imagery, and positive self-talk.  For example one competency reads, “Describe the psychological techniques (e.g., goal setting, imagery, positive self-talk, relaxation/anxiety reduction) that the athletic trainer can use to motivate the patient during injury rehabilitation and return to activity processes” (NATA, 2011, p. 26).  

          Psychosocial Strategies and Referral are also included, as part of the CIP required of ATCs.  The CIPs are the “synthesis and integration of knowledge, skills, and clinical decisionmaking into actual client/patient care” (NATA, 2011, p. 31). Therefore, according to the CIP ATCs should be able to “Select and integrate appropriate psychosocial techniques into a patient’s treatment or rehabilitation program to enhance rehabilitation adherence, return to play, and overall outcomes.  This includes, but is not limited to, verbal motivation, goal setting, imagery, pain management, self-talk, and/or relaxation” (NATA, 2011, p. 31).  The fact that the NATA requires ATCs to be competent in Psychosocial Strategies and Referral highlights the importance of the role of sport psychology in aiding injured athletes.

Thus, over time, the athletic training field has evolved and matured.  The current standards and competencies set in place by the NATA and the CAATE represents the expected skills and proficiencies ATCs should posses.  ATCs are expected to be knowledgeable in a variety of areas, including psychological aspects of injury.  Based on the standards set in place by the NATA, it appears that mental skills training serves an important role in the field of athletic training.


Sport psychology is defined as “ the scientific study of people and their behaviors in sport and exercise contexts and the practical application of that knowledge” (Weinberg & Gould, 2007, p. 4).  Within the field of sport psychology two main objectives have been identified.  The first objective is to “understand the effects of psychological factors on physical or motor performance” (Weinberg & Gould, 2007, p. 4).  The second objective is to “understand the effects of physical participation on psychological development, health, and well-being” (Weinberg & Gould, 2007, p. 4).  One component of sport psychology focuses on the theories and interventions that can be applied to enhance performance and increase success and is often referred to as mental skills training  (Williams & Straub, 2010).  Mental skills training includes a variety of methods and programs with popular techniques focusing on imagery, relaxation techniques, goal setting, and positive self-talk.  It is well documented in the literature that mental skills training can be effective in helping athletes reach peak performance (Gould, Guinan, Greenleaf, Medbery, Peterson, 1999; Krane & Williams, 2010; Weinberg & Gould, 2007).  In a study assessing factors that affect Olympic performance, Gould and colleagues (1999) found that athletes who engaged in mental skills training performed better than athletes who did not engage in mental skills training.

This study examined if mental skills and strategies as well as physical, social, and environmental factors affect Olympic performance.  A total of 23 Olympic athletes of varying competition levels participated in focus groups interviews.  A major theme that emerged was that teams and athletes that performed to or above expectations mentioned mental skills techniques in detail, discussed its importance often, and reported using mental skills techniques to aid in competition.  In contrast, those who did not perform to or above expectations reported not using mental skills techniques enough and merely discussed the importance of mental skills training.  Similarly, Fournier, Calmels, Durand-Bush, and Salmela (2005) conducted a study with 10 nationally ranked female gymnasts to understand the effects of a mental skills training program.  The intervention group participated in a 10 month mental skills training program.  The gymnasts in the intervention group performed better in three out of four events than the gymnasts who did not participate in the mental skills training program.  The benefits of mental skills training are well documented in the literature.  The mental skills of most interest to this paper are imagery, goal setting, and positive self-talk.


According to Vealey and Greenleaf (2010), imagery can be defined as “using one’s senses to re-create or create an experience in the mind” (p. 268).  For example, athletes may create images of themselves running through the motions of their sport prior to competing.  While the word imagery invokes the idea that the practice of imagery simply relies on the visual sense, it in fact is a polysensory experience.  Imagery relies on the use of more than just the visual sense.   Auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, and kinesthetic senses are all important for effective imagery (Weinberg & Gould, 2007).  

In addition, two main criteria central to the effectiveness of the use imagery is controllability and vividness (Weinberg & Gould, 2007).  Controllability refers to one’s ability to control the images produced.  Therefore, athletes who continue to imagine their injured body part as weak and unhealthy, rather than strong and healthy, are not able to control what they are imaging.  Vividness refers to the use of multiple senses during imagery.  It is most effective when athletes can image the actual experience they are trying to recreate. Another area of importance within imagery is the imagery perspective.  Mahoney and Avener (1977) found that athletes take an internal or external view when engaging in imagery.  An internal view of imagery implies that imagery is being viewed from the vantage point of the person doing the imaging (Mahoney & Avener, 1977).  Therefore, the person would only see what they could from their perspective as if they were executing the skill.  Internal imagery is a first person experience.

An athlete rehabbing on a seated hamstring curl machine using internal imagery would see his/her leg swinging up and down, but would not see his determined face.  The focus of internal imagery is on the kinesthetic feel of the movements.  In contrast, external imagery refers to an outsider view (Mahoney & Avener, 1977).  This perspective is like watching oneself in a movie.  Take for example the same volleyball player mentioned above using the external perspective.  This time the player would see himself or herself making contact with the volleyball from the lens of an observer. They would see all teammates, fans, and anything else going on in the competition.  Unlike the internal perspective of imagery, there is little focus on the kinesthetic feel of movement.  Research and athlete testimonials suggest that athletes use both types of perspectives when engaging in imagery (Weinberg & Gould, 2007).   For example, Murphy, Fleck, Dudley, and Callister (1990) found that most Olympic athletes reported using both an internal and external imagery perspective.  Regardless of what type of perspective is employed, imagery is frequently used by athletes of various competitive levels.

2.4.1.  Prevalence of Imagery Use

It is well established in the literature that imagery is widely used in the athletic population.  Both research studies and athlete testimonials highlight the prevalence and importance of imagery use.  In a study conduced by Hall, Rodgers, and Barr (1990) the researchers found that athletes at multiple levels of competition frequently used imagery during both practice and competition.  In an unpublished report to United States Olympic Committee, Jowdy and Durtschi (1989) found that 90% of athletes and 94% of coaches surveyed at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs used imagery.  Similarly, of 235 athletes surveyed at the 1984 Olympic games, 99% reported using imagery (Orlick & Partington, 1988).  Thus, it is evident that athletes commonly use imagery to aid in performance.



5.1     Conclusions

The study compared locus of control, self-efficacy and grit among athletes and non-athletes. The study also examined the relationship between grit, locus of control and self-efficacy. The following were the conclusions of the study.

  1. There was a significant difference in locus of control between athletes and non-athletes. Athletes had an internal locus of control compared to non-athletes.
  2. There was no significant difference in self-efficacy between athletes and non-athletes.
  3. There was no significant difference in grit between athletes and non-athletes.
  4. There was a significant positive relationship between self-efficacy and grit among athletes and nonathletes.
  5. There was no significant relationship between locus of control and grit among athletes and nonathletes
  6. There was no significant relationship between locus of control and self-efficacy among athletes and non-athletes.

5.2     Limitations

  1. The study was conducted only on 100 athletes and 100 non-athletes.
  2. The study was restricted only to athletes who participated in individual sports such as javelin throw, shot put, long jump, hammer throw, triple jump, discus throw, and hurdles. Athletes who participated in team sports such as volleyball, cricket, hockey and basketball were not included in the study.
  3. The study was limited to students in the age group 18-25 years from Chennai city.

5.3     Suggestion for further research

  1. A larger sample can be studied.
  2. The study can be carried out on athletes who participate in team sports.
  3. Other psychological variables such as resilience, self-esteem, optimism and burnout can be investigated.


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