Professional male rugby union players’ perceived psychological recovery and physical regeneration during the off-season
We explored male professional rugby union players’ experiences and perceptions of their mental and physical health and well-being across the northern hemisphere off-season. 34 professional male rugby union players participated in individual semistructured interviews (mean (SD) age=27.5 (4.3) years). Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. The off-season was characterised by three phases players undergo to preserve their mental and physical health and well-being to recover from the previous season and regenerate in preparation for the upcoming season. These included decompression from previous season, cognitive detachment from the rugby environment and preparation for preseason. Successful progression through all three phases was influenced by several variables (work and life demands, contextual factors, experience level). Recovery and regeneration strategies focused on physical distancing/getting away from the rugby environment to cognitively detach. Injured players appear an at-risk subgroup for threats to mental well-being (isolation, anxiety, reduced sense of achievement) as a result of reduced or minimal time away from the workplace due to treatment obligations. Younger professionals are a subgroup at risk of overtraining/injury due to inadequate rest, especially as this group are least likely to seek support/guidance. This study is the first investigation into male professional rugby union players’ experiences and perceptions of their mental and physical health and well-being across the off-season period. It highlights the distinct phases players undertake to mentally recover and regenerate and the need to consider education and support for potential at risk subgroups.
Published inBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
- VoR (Version of Record)
CitationMellalieu, S. D., Sellars, P., Arnold, R., Williams, S., Campo, M., & Lyons, D. (2023). Professional male rugby union players’ perceived psychological recovery and physical regeneration during the off-season. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 9(1), e001361.
Cardiff Met Affiliation
- Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences
Cardiff Met AuthorsStephen Mellalieu Paul Sellars
Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group
- Mental Health and Wellbeing in Demanding Environments
- © The Authors