Sebastian Ring
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Sebastian Ring

Motivation for the Restart After Corona

Sports Psychologist: The Right Motivation for the Restart After Corona

Whether a restart, a comeback or the way back - many terms describe what almost every athlete has experienced at least once: falling down and getting up again. How do you motivate yourself in a difficult times to get out of the crisis? Sports psychologist Dr. Heiko Ziemainz from the German Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg explains how professional athletes prepare mentally for a successful comeback and gives tips on which strategies from professional sport also work in everyday and business life, especially now in the coronavirus crisis.

Objectives for a successful restart should meet five criteria: specific, measurable, adaptable, realistic and on time - SMART.
Objectives for a successful restart should meet five criteria: specific, measurable, adaptable, realistic and on time - SMART.

ISPO.com: When should athletes start to prepare for the restart after an injury?
Heiko Ziemeinz: First of all, it is nice when, for example, after a ligament injury in the knee, the diagnosis is so clear that the therapy plan and rehab have been determined. Then you can estimate when you can start playing sports again, if no complications occur. In consultation with coaches, physiotherapists and doctors, you set yourself certain goals for rehabilitation. Then there is light at the end of the tunnel. This makes it easier to maintain motivation in order to prepare consistently for the comeback. It also requires that you feel it is worthwhile. A 38-year-old district league footballer will think about the effort he has to make after a serious injury. You should ask yourself about the emotional value the sport has for you: Is it good for me? Do I feel joy? Then you can make the decision: Do I go through the effort or not?

What if the diagnosis is not so clear and the light at the end of the tunnel is missing for the time being?

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The SMART Method Helps out of the Low - Not Only in Sports

Are there strategies to motivate yourself over a longer period of time?
Yes, in motivational psychology you first define day X, when you are "ready to play" again, as they say in football. Then you fill the entire period with intermediate goals. The objectives should be set according to the "SMART" rule. That means first of all that the goal must be specific - for example, after a torn cruciate ligament, I would like to be able to bend my knee again by a certain amount of degrees on a certain date. Secondly, the target should be measurable, in our example this would be the angle of knee flexion. Thirdly, the target must be adjustable - something can always come up, for example an infection. Fourthly, the target must be realistic. After a torn cruciate ligament, for example, you cannot play football again after three months. And finally, it must be scheduled. So you need precisely defined periods of time until you have reached certain stages.

Sports psychologist Dr. Heiko Ziemainz from the German Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen-Nuremberg.
Sports psychologist Dr. Heiko Ziemainz from the German Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Preparation for Day X

What other methods are there besides SMART?
Many athletes illustrate the path to their return by recording a "Road to Comeback". The various intermediate goals and how to reach them can be the subject of visualization sessions until the actual comeback is demonstrated. Football players then imagine, for example, how they are replaced for the first time and play the first few minutes. This is very engaging for the athletes.

What happens then on Day X?
It is good to visualize these situations weeks in advance. You can also imagine certain inner dialogues which you will then say to yourself, for example: "Stay calm" or "Go into the first duel as if nothing had ever happened". If you play through things again and again beforehand and design the visualization in such a way that it is positive what is happening - then you are well prepared.

How do you deal with the fear of a new injury?
It goes in the same direction. You should always imagine that things are going well. Also you should counter-condition and in the moment of the injury you should put on another pattern that covers the original picture. You can also regain confidence through appropriate exercises in training.

What does the sports and outdoor industry look like after the Corona crisis? More than 100 high-level speakers discussed this at the ISPO Re.Start Days. Experience the conference for a fresh start now on demand.
Sebastian Ring
Author:
Sebastian Ring
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