Perceived support in the rehabilitation process among female elite handball players


Introduction: Handball is a team sport involving a great physical demand, which causes this sport to present a high incidence of injury, especially in the elite level. Absence due to injury is one of the most stressful factors in professional handball. Therefore, this study aims to examine elite level handball players experience of social support during their rehabilitation process. Methods: Nine female Norwegian elite level handball players were interviews with the use of a semi-structured interview. Results: According to the players, all the actors such as family, friends, teammates, physiotherapists, and coaches were important as a part of the athletes´ social network. They clearly offered different types of social support based on their role, experience, and knowledge. Surprisingly, several athletes described a lack of follow-up, especially from their head coach. Discussion: These results indicate that the players and their coaches should establish a better understanding of their role related to each other during long-term injuries. Since the likelihood of injuries in elite level handball is substantial, such a clarification might improve the athletes experience of a long-term injury period.