Top athletes struggled to motivate themselves during lockdown – new study


Image provided by Ben Lumley photography.

A new global study has found that elite-level athletes suffered from low motivation during movement restrictions (for example, blockages) associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The collaborative project, involving Dr Lee Taylor of Loughborough University, studied the training practices of 12,526 athletes from 142 countries and six continents.

A comprehensive online survey explored how athletes‘ training behaviors, both before and during lockdown, have changed as a result of the pandemic.

The results revealed that the athletes had reduced general motivation, amplified in part by the lack of competitive sport.

The researchers also found that compared to the pre-lockout period, reduced training frequency, shorter workouts, and lower sport-specific intensity were reported for most athletes regardless of their classification (for example, world class versus international versus national).

The study found that most participants reported training on their own and focusing on overall health and wellness rather than their specific sport or discipline, in part due to a lack of resources, including space, equipment and facilities.

Throughout the study, Loughborough worked with academic partners from the National Sports Institute of Malaysia, Aspetar, University of Melbourne (Australia) and over 100 other research centers.

Dr Taylor, a reader in exercise and environmental physiology at Loughborough, explained:

“It was a pleasure to be a senior member of this research team. The diverse community of researchers and institutions from all inhabited continents around the world, coupled with the large global sample of athletes (12,256 from 142 countries) interviewed, made this project particularly enjoyable – despite – the clearly difficult context and touching of the pandemic.

“According to the data, the COVID-19-mediated lockdown has compromised almost all aspects of the effective prescription and periodization of athlete training (quantity and quality of training in terms of intensity, duration and frequency) at a disadvantage for athletes of lower classification (e.g. world class vs international vs national).

“This reinforces the need for individualization in practice when it comes to dealing with athletes, not only based on their training preferences, but also their personal circumstances. The pandemic has clearly led to innovation in the training of athletes, in particular the training and / or the prescription thereof. For example, world-class athletes were more receptive to digital technology for training / coaching than non-world-class athletes.

Professor Karim Chamari, Aspetar – Aspetar Sports Injury and Illness Prevention (ASPREV), responsible for ASPREV, added:

“The data showed that athletes’ knowledge of certain fundamentals of ‘training’ was variable. This was a bit surprising considering that as a practitioner one would generally assume that athletes, especially those who compete at a higher level, are familiar with these principles with a specificity to their sport (s).

“It would therefore seem prudent that the relevant educational resources improve the knowledge of athletes in this regard, which, under COVID-type scenarios, would support the effectiveness of home training. “

Jad Adrian Washif, sports scientist at the National Sports Institute of Malaysia, said:

“It was nice to see that from our larger sample (12,526 athletes) a large number of Olympic or World Championship athletes (> 1,600) were surveyed. In this regard, “high performance” athletes maintained their holistic “normal” training practices better than other athletes.

“Regardless, our data showed that athletes would need help during lockdown-type situations, through the perspectives of training, motivation and mental well-being.. “

For more information on the study and to read the full report, visit HERE. Dr Lee Taylor can also be found on Twitter – @DrLeeTaylor.

Notes for Editors

Press release reference number: 21/220

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links to industry and unparalleled achievements in sport and its underlying academic disciplines. .

It has been awarded five stars in the independent university rating system QS Stars, named the world’s best university for sports-related subjects in the QS 2021 World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and The Sunday Times. University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of all national rankings, being ranked 7th in the UK Complete University Guide 2022 and 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty UK universities in the Times Higher Education ‘Table of Tables’ and in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of her contribution to the sector, Loughborough received seven Queen’s Birthday Awards

The campus of Loughborough University in London is based on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive level education, as well as research and business opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of education and the latest modern thinking.

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