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Motivation the key in coronavirus times, sports psychologist says

Due to the coronavirus outbreak at most two players of the German first division, Bundesliga, soccer club Schalke 04 exercise together to keep distance during the training on the club's training ground in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Due to the coronavirus outbreak at most two players of the German first division, Bundesliga, soccer club Schalke 04 exercise together to keep distance during the training on the club's training ground in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Photo: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Published Apr 5, 2020

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BERLIN -–Training on through coronavirus-related lockdowns and

other restrictions is a daunting task in itself, with motivation the

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driving force.

And according to German sports psychologist Oliver Stoll, athletes in

individual sports have an advantage over those from team sports who

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can only train in small groups, if at all.

Stoll acknowledges that those from athletics don't have the tracks

and fields available, and swimmers can't train in the pools, but that

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nonetheless "team sports athletes are much worse off.

"Nothing at all is going for them. Except from being online or can

playing the garden with their families," he said.

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Some football clubs like Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have

resorted to cyber training and others have permission to be at the

training ground in small groups.

Individual sports athletes have also had to change their training

routines but at least decide on their own how to proceed, with

motivation being the key factor.

"The question is why I do sport? If I am intrinsically motivated I do

it for the sake of the activity, because I love it. An award is first

of all no factor," Stoll said.

"When I am extrinsically motivated I do it because of the result," he

said, referring to promotion into another league, a winners' party, a

finisher t-shirt or a medal.

Stoll, who has been working with the national diving team since 2008

and took part in the Hawaii ironman in 1988, said that intrinsically

motivated athletes have a clear edge at the moment, with events

cancelled and no one knowing when leagues can resume.

Stoll said it helps to be "intrinsically motivated and active because

you love it, and are not looking at a special award directly related

to it."

Top athletes such as race walker Christopher Linke, who came fourth

at last year's world championships in Doha, don't necessarily fall

into that group.

Linke readily admitted he has completely lost his motivation and

doesn't know what he is training for.

"I am not an athlete who likes to train without goals. I don't go to

training because I enjoy it so much but because I know it is part of

being able to achieve a top result," Linke said.

Hurdler Pamela Dutkiewicz, a 2017 worlds bronze medallist, said: "In

sports, goals are clearly defined, and linked with a certain day and

even time. I adhere to the guidelines ... But the aimlessness of not

knowing exactly what will happen when, or at all, is really

difficult."

Stoll meanwhile said that it is also possible to run a marathon even

without a competition, looking at those - mainly amateurs - who have

prepared for all those spring races over 42.195km which have been

cancelled.

"You can have the aim of running 42km. And if it is important to

prove that you can run 42km you don't need a competition. If you want

to," Stoll said.

dpa

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