Use of mental techniques for competition and recovery in professional athletes
Background: The present study aims to describe knowledge about and usage of mental techniques to prepare before competitions and after sport-associated injuries (SAIs) by professional athletes (team sports) in Austria.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 191 professional athletes (basketball, football, hockey, ice hockey, and volleyball teams, m:f = 142:49, 24 ± 5, 18–39 years) filled in a questionnaire assessing socio-demographic data, duration/frequency of sport practice, rate and severity of SAIs. Furthermore, the use of mental techniques and of spiritual practices before competitions and for recovery after SAI was assessed. The use of mental techniques before competitions and after SAI was correlated with socio-demographic data, duration and frequency of sport practice, and injury patterns of SAIs of the last 24 months.
Results: Approximately, 96 % reported knowledge about at least one mental technique. Only 13 participants used them for regeneration after SAI. Approximately, 31 % of males and 13 % of females reported the use before competitions (p = 0.017). 54 % of participants using spiritual practices used mental techniques before competitions, whereas only 13 % of participants not using spiritual practices used them (p < 0.001). 67 % of participants not using mental techniques before competitions and 88 % using them believed in the effectiveness of mental techniques in the regeneration after a SAI (p = 0.03). A significant increase of the probability of using mental techniques before competition with increasing age was found [Odds ratio (OR) = 1.101, confidence interval (CI) = (1.03, 1.18), p = 0.006].
Conclusion: Mental techniques seem to be well-accepted but rarely used among professional athletes. Further studies are needed to give new information about this relevant topic in professional sports.