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Recensione libro: Ultramaratoneti e gare estreme

Ultramaratoneti e gare estreme

Matteo Simone

Roma Prospettiva editrice, 2016, p.298

Parlare di ultramaratona è difficile perché con facilità si può scadere nella retorica del sacrificio, del no pain-no gain. Questo libro, invece, parla di questo tema dando voce alla esperienze positive e negative di chi corre. Infatti si parla all’inizio della corsa, anzi del movimento, e di quanto sia importante muoversi quotidianamente scegliendo la misura che è più indicata e piacevole per la persona. Successivamente il lettore è condotto nel mondo della corsa di lunga distanza e quindi anche in quello dell’ultramaratona. Qui il racconto assume sempre più una dimensione narrativa in cui Simone Matteo fa parlare i diretti protagonisti attraverso le loro esperienze. La maggior parte di loro sono persone comuni, non atleti professionisti, che parlano delle ragioni che sottendono a questa scelta sportiva. Sono in generale motivazioni che nascono dal desiderio di migliorare la conoscenza di se stessi, attraverso la conoscenza di quali siano i propri limiti e come superarli. Il corpo parla continuamente a questi amanti dell’endurance, poiché la distanza determina sollecitazioni che le corse brevi e di media lunghezza non arrivano a determinare. Ascoltarsi vuol dire anche sapere quando fermarsi dando retta proprio ai segnali che provengono dal fisico. Non ascoltarli significa andare incontro a problemi fisici anche gravi, come viene raccontato da alcuni runner. Il libro scorre in modo interessante poiché Matteo Simone narra delle storie personali senza avere la pretesa d’insegnare cosa sia l’ultramaratona ma lasciandola scoprire al lettore attraverso le parole di chi la pratica. Ognuno di noi se ne farà quindi un’idea personale, basata su cosa riteniamo sia la corsa, la corsa di lunga distanza e il nostro rapporto con il movimento. E’, quindi, un libro aperto a diverse soluzioni interpretative dettate dalle esperienze di chi legge e credo che questo sia il suo pregio principale.

 

 

 

Lo sviluppo motorio e psicosociale in bambini con disabilità intellettive attraverso il calcio

Movimento

Rivista di Psicologia e Scienze del Movimento e dello Sport

n.2/3, 2016, 63 pagine

Roma: Edizioni Luigi Pozzi

 

Lo sviluppo motorio e psicosociale in bambini con disabilità intellettive attraverso il calcio

Motor and psychosocial development in children with intellectual disabilities through soccer

 

Alberto Cei*’, Paolo Franceschi^, Michele Rosci^, Daniela Sepio’ e Bruno Ruscello°

*Università San Raffaele, Roma e ASD Calcio Integrato

^AS Roma Calcio

‘ASD Calcio Integrato

°Università di Tor Vergata, Roma

 

Parole chiave: bambini, autismo, calcio, apprendimento, empowerment

Key words: children, autism, soccer, learning, empowerment

 

 

Abstract

Calcio Insieme (Soccer Together) is a project promoted by Roma Cares Foundation, non-profit organization linked to the broader context of Social Responsibility and Sustainability of AS ROMA and A.S.D. Accademia di Calcio Integrato, whose objective is the development of education and culture integrated to the values of sport through the soccer.

Soccer is the sport most loved and practiced by girls and boys around the world, but for young people with developmental difficulties are rare, if not absent, the opportunities allowing them to live this sport as an educational and playful experience. Therefore, this applied research project, spread over three years, is aimed at children (6-12 years) with intellectual disabilities and with particular reference to those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Soccer Together project wants to promote the physical activity and soccer teaching for these children, in order to improve the quality of their lives through a continuous sport practice over time. Furthermore, this project wants also to develop a methodology model of teaching, tailored for these children, through this applied research.

Soccer Together began in September 2015 with the collaboration of some schools of Roma. They promoted among families of children with intellectual disabilities the knowledge of this initiative. They organized information meetings lead by the staff of Soccer Together to start building a community whose school, family, sport organization and staff could feel part of a common project at its center there are the children with intellectual disabilities and especially those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Since the beginning the project has had as main focus the empowerment of each child through the soccer, as recommended by the International Paralympic Committee.

To better understand the different steps of the experiment carried out by the technical-scientific staff of Soccer Together at the Giulio Onesti Center, in Roma, it’s important to acknowledge what are the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and what are the limits and the motor/psychological potential of children with ASD; the report describes in detail the main features and the research results.

This report begins with an overview of autism spectrum disorders and what are the limits and the motor potential of these children. It emerges that, up to now, the experiences carried out in this area included only individual sports and that no investigation has been conducted to test how the group sports and soccer specifically could be a means of improving the motor/sports skills and the psychological and interpersonal skills. In the section devoted to the method are described the diagnoses of 30 children (27 boys and 3 girls). They  have participated in the project by attending at the training program for an hour twice a week for 5 months. They were divided into two sub-groups (Green and Red) as a function of their motor skills and psycho-relational competences. All children were subjected to the initial and final motor assessment. Similarly it proceeded with the psychological and interpersonal evaluation carried out at the beginning and at the end of the program. This was done through interviews with parents and their school teachers and an assessment carried out on the field for the duration of the period of activities carried out by the football coaches and the sport psychologists. In addition, before the start of the program, the whole staff,  including sport psychologists, youth football instructors, one speech therapist, one sport physician and one coordinator of the relations with families and schools have participated in a specific training, theoretical and practical, learning to be sensitive and to work with young individuals with developmental disorders. The results showed that in relation to motor skills there are significant differences from the initial assessment in relation to 6 tests out of 10. The children improved in tests regarding: walking between the cones, running between the cones, roll on the mat, high jump (3 obstacles 20 / 30cm), grab (5 launches from 1 to 5 meters away from the instructor) and stay balanced on jellyfish.

In relation to run with the ball (to drive the ball into a space 15m long and 4m wide) were detected two results. The first is that, even at the end of the program, 39.3% of children did not show any improvement. The second is of opposite sign and shows that 28.6% is placed in an intermediate skill level. They drive the ball, move frequently left and right even if out of the lane. In addition, 10.7% shows a medium-high skill level, driving the ball without leaving the lane. These data show there is a significant difference from the point of view of the motor competences among the children, while for some the training it’s characterized more as motor activity oriented to the acquisition of basic motor patterns, for others it’s oriented to  teach the soccer fundamentals.

The questionnaire administered at the end of the program to the parents of the children examined the following skills: cooperation, participation in the games, understanding the others and be understood, communicate with each other, socialize, approach the new situations/people and reduction of behavioral problems. For each of these skills, the parents have expressed a final assessment, it showed that they believe their children are improved significantly. It’s also interesting to note that the same questionnaire was administered to school support teachers of children and the resulting data are similar to those experienced by parents. Assessments made on the field by sport psychologists and coaches have shown that most of young people have improved, even if  they achieved very different skill levels, depending on the difficulty level initially expressed. For the future, there are clearly detectable paths of physical activity and sports differentiating the two children groups (Red and Green).

In summary, these data confirm the findings of the research review conducted on people with autism spectrum disorder (Sowa e Meulenbroek, 2012). That is to say, that the motor/sport skills increase with specific program of motor/sports learning. Our study adds that the organization of training sessions in group interventions and individual interventions promote the development of social skills, as in part it has been showed by Walker, Barry and Bader (2010). This pilot study has also responded to the request to organize “a naturalistic intervention based on group sports like soccer” (Sowa and Meulenbroek, 2012; p.56) and, till now it was never been documented. In addition, as already showed (Luiselli 2014), the behavioral problems were reduced, decreasing the stereotyped movements and the self-stimulation behaviors.

Finally, it should be mentioned those results achieved which are not identifiable in scientific terms but that at the same time are important for a project with the aim to reduce the limits of the children with ASD and widen their skills at 360 degrees. The most significant are the following: the first football games played between them and the coaches and two games 4vs4 with players of Roma Academy; the identification process with AS Roma has increased the children socialization and stimulated their pride being a part of Roma team; live this experience with professionals totally dedicated to them and willing to respect the times of socialization and learning while not ceasing to guide them in the activities; for families it has been important to meet each other, sharing these experiences and feeling themselves as an active part of the project.

Recensione libro: One Goal – The mindset of winning soccer teams

One Goal

The mindset of winning soccer teams

Bill Beswick

Human Kinetics, 2016, p. 222

What I liked more in the book titled “One goal” by Bill Beswick is the great passion and competence that he shows in every chapter. The goal of this book is to describe why/how a psychologist has to be committed in this kind of job. The answer is that there are a lots of things to do, but only if you are passionate. This means that what you read inside, you cannot in any other book concerning performance psychology, because is coming from the application of the expertise and passion to a specific context. The second reason to read this book comes from the several professional examples that Beswick provides in each chapter. This approach is relevant because the young professional has to know that the consultant job with a team needs these skills. It means that our knowledge science-based need to be translated in terms to be useful in the everyday job with the team, the players and the head coach and probably with the team managers too. The book goes around a main focus based on two interrelated concepts: the positive environment supports the fighter mentality. Therefore the team has to share a unifying identity and culture and it must be very well clarified that the positive results come from this homogenous mindset and the viceversa is never true. So the team culture is based on common: effort, enthusiasm, execution and endurance. First the attitude, than any other specific competence (strength or focus or game schema).  At this regard, Beswick say:

“Arguably, the most successful team in international sport, the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team, clean their own locker-room after the game, showing the humility that is common to many great teams.”

Another relevant topic concerns how the coach teach individual and collective responsibility, in the first part of the book there many ideas that a coach can use to work on it, to reach this important goal. In the second part the main topic is presented in the chapter titled “Fostering coachability.” It’s a key attitude to develop a winning career. The players’ progresses depends on their coachability, that is the relatively stable position to be involved in the process of continuous improvement independently from the current skills, performance level and roles. Another important point is related to the players’ personal accountability and I agree with the Beswick’s  Ten key elements of the accountability cycle (goals and standards, reminders, culture, learning environment, accepting justified criticism, regular feedback, thunderbolts, internal challenge, can’t do or won’t do?, accountability without blame). If the team and the coach will respect these rules they will show an higher threshold for alibis, becoming more accountable and successful.  As Michael Jordan said:

“the better players learn to say «I played bad but tomorrow I’ll play better». A lot of younger players are afraid to admit they have bad nights but everybody has bad nights and it’s how you rebound from those bad nights that dictates what kind of player you are going to be.”

The third part of the book is about competition and the key words are competing cohesively, the momentum, pressure, overcoming adversity, repeat success. Also in this section Beswick shows how to apply the psychologist’s professional skills to work with a constructive approach in the most competitiveness situations, because “pressure is nothing more that the shadow of a great opportunity.”

Recensione libro: Soccer science

Soccer Science

Tony Strudwick (Editor)

Human Kinetics, 2016, p. 649

http://www.humankinetics.com/products/all-products/soccer-science

The book is very interesting for the reason that it provides to the reader a global and in the same specific vision of what soccer is today, played by 250 million of persons in more than 200 countries. It’s the world’s most popular sport. Goal of the book is to describe how to use the scientific principles to optimize the players’ performance and the preparation. All the chapters are relevant for soccer  but in my review I selected the chapters and the topics that could be more useful for the sport psychologists. The section 2 concerns the talent selection and the player development. In the Mujika and Castagna’s chapter, titled “Practical aspects of player selection and development”,  emerges very clearly that in soccer the relative effect age continues to be a resource to select the players, influencing the drop-out at the age of 12 years and not giving the consideration needed to the role of maturation in the player development. The authors conclude that the talent identification continues to be a critical point in soccer. The following chapter by Unnithan and Iga, titled “Development of the young soccer player”, treats the development of the young soccer players, it’s an updated presentation about the integration among growth, maturation, demands of match and the physiological components concerning the youth soccer players. From the side of sport psychologist also the contribute by Paul Ford, titled “Skill acquisition and learning through practice and other activities”, provides many useful and updated information. He reviews the perceptual-cognitive skills and the decision making processes involved in what in soccer is called “reading the game” and “affecting the game.” These two processes run in parallel and interact together. The chapter presents also the two categories of activities practiced during the training to improve these skills; the drill-type activities (focused on technique and skills) and the game-based activities (containing match-like situations). The author provides also information about the situation where the players use the fast thinking, so called intuition, compared to slow thinking, called reasoning.

In the world are produced each year 85 million balls and one chapter by Andy Garland and Henry Hanson has been published in this book: “Soccer ball dynamics.” Topics like the history of soccer ball development, material, design and construction, social responsibility, ball performances are presented. Other parts of the book regard the soccer biomechanical and physiological aspects and demands, the conditioning programs, the nutritional needs, the environmental  stressor, (altitude, temperature), soccer boots and playing surfaces.

The first chapter devoted to sport psychology is by Geir Jordet, titled “Psychology and elite soccer performance.” He identified 11 key skills showed by the players. They refer to self-determination, motivation, recovery processes and learning from mistakes. A second level of competences regards the players’ interpersonal skills and the ability to be adapted at the new contexts. A third level is composed by different conditions to cope with (adversity, pressure, success). The last emerging factors are the control game dynamics trough the anticipation processes, about what is going to happen in few seconds and the desire to innovatively provide, following the Anders Ericcson’s words, “a unique innovative contribution”. The second chapter of this part by Matt Pain, titled “Mental interventions”, is about the 5Cs mental of toughness regarding the assessment and the development of the following skills: commitment, communication, concentration, control, confidence. It’s the model used by Football Association in England to develop the youth’s psychological competences. The chapter provides case studies based on one-to-one work with players, coaching interventions and team practices to develop this mental approach. Its interest is in numerous practical situations proposed and developed to cope with these five mental skills. The third and last chapter is by Mark Nesti, titled “Performance mind-set.” The author identified four key topics as important for sport psychologists and coaches, they are: anxiety, identity, critical comments and life beyond the training ground. It must be noted that compared to the two contributes these chapter is more based around the authors’ professional experiences with several teams of the English Premier League. Nesti worked more in one-to-one situation with players and coaches than with team, for the concrete limitation to engaging in group works in professional teams. The author said that this approach was useful to meet better and in deep the needs of the players and the type of challenge they had to face. The last two parts of this book are related to the Tactics and strategies (four chapters) and Match performance and analysis (four chapters). It’s a very informative book useful for all are involved in soccer at different levels.

Recensione libro: The Autism Fitness Handbook

The Autism Fitness Handbook

David S. Geslak

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London & Philadelphia

2015, 168 p. – 54 illustrations

 

This book is one of the very few contributions devoted to provide information, guidance and practical supports  to people who want to start a motor program with children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The main goal achieved by David Geslak is to write and focus us on abilities, rather than on mental and physical problems. It’s a true fitness book, which describe a specific program based on 46 exercises to practice. The Author said the program has been used not only with children but with adults too, determining improvements independently from the ability possessed at the begin of the activity.

The program is divided in four parts: engage, educate, empower and exercise. The first part talks about the way to involve the children in the program. In this section very important are the patient and motivation of the teachers, their ability to provide structure and routine and the use of visual supports (e.g., pictures, cards, timers), in the same time it’s important that the parents at home are committed in the same direction, improving the child health, for example also following an adequate food and beverage management and continue the movement activities.  The second part talks about education, that means why they are exercising. In this section are described the five components of physical fitness: body image, motor coordination, posture, muscular and cardiovascular fitness. There is also an additional item regarding the children abdominal strength, part of the body image and muscular fitness,  weak in these children and it needs to be reinforced. The third part talks about empower, in this section are reviewed the champion stories and exercise routines used by David Geslak with eight people with ASD. The fourth part regards the exercise area. It proposes exercises following the five components, including abdominal strength. Each of the 46 exercises is described in term of goal satisfied, how to do, repetitions and coaching tips. I appreciate this contribute to spread the physically active life style also in children with ASD, based on the assertive concept to start from their competences to improve them in the long period with a specific program.

E’ uscita la 2° edizione di “Allenarsi per Vincere”

E’ uscita la 2° edizione del libro 

 

Questo è un libro dedicato agli sgobboni e non hai bravi per un giorno. E’ un libro dedicato a quelli che vogliono correre il rischio di diventarlo e non si accontentano dei successi facili. E’ per chi ritiene che le imprese eccezionali siano il frutto dell’impegno quotidiano e non dell’impegno eroico di un giorno, è per chi fa anche quando piove e il traguardo è ancora lontano. E’ per chi s’impegna in attività che non sono immediatamente gratificanti, perché sono noiose e ripetitive ma sa che deve farlo. Non è per chi vuole stare sempre sotto i riflettori o si ritiene già bravo.

E’ un libro dedicato anche a chi, pur non avendo più l’età o il tempo per diventare un atleta di alto livello, vuole comunque coltivare la sua passione sportiva e allenarsi a migliorare le sue abilità psicologiche per passare da correre un minuto a correre  un’ora, seguendo un programma che gli permetta di conoscersi meglio e di sviluppare quelle competenze mentali che gli permetteranno di vivere questo suo impegno in maniera gratificante e positiva per il suo benessere.

Questo è il libro per chi ama faticare in modo intelligente ed etico, per chi s’impegna pur sapendo comunque che ci saranno dei giorni in cui penserà che non ce la farà mai, ma l’aveva messo in conto.

 

 

International J. Sport Psychology 46(6) 2015, Part II

International J. Sport Psychology 46(6) 2015, Part I

Book review: Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology – 6th Edition

Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology 6th Edition

with Web Study Guide

Daniel Gould and Robert Weinberg

Human Kinetics, 2015, p.649

www.humankinetics.com/FoundationsOfSportAndExercisePsychology

As the leading text in sport and exercise psychology, “Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Sixth Edition With Web Study Guide,” provides a thorough introduction to key concepts in the field. This text is for me the best manual about this topic integrating updated research data and professional tools regarding sport and exercise.

The book is organized in seven-part and key points are highlighted throughout to help readers to learn the main concepts.

Part I – Beginning your journey – Introduces the sport and exercise psychology definition, its history the differences between these two specialties, providing an international perspective of the present and future trends.

Part II – Learning about participants – is devoted to understand the personality studies and its measures, identifying the relation between cognitive strategies and success and the role of the expert in understanding personality. Others two chapters talk about the motivation and the relation between self-regulation (arousal, stress, anxiety) and performance. There is always the focus regarding how to apply these knowledges in professional practice.

Part III – Understanding sport and exercise environments – comprehends two chapters one about competition and cooperation and the other on feedback and motivation. To the PE teachers and coaches provides a lot of useful information theory based about the interpersonal relation with their pupils in the different settings (sport, physical education and exercise).

Part IV – Focusing on group processes – is another section focused to provide theoretical and practical information on  group management, leadership and interpersonal communication

Part V – Improving performance – is probably the section more useful for all the practitioners or motivated to be involved in program of mental coaching. There are five chapter on arousal regulation, imagery, self-confidence, goal setting and concentration. From my side the most important content of this part is the first devoted to explain what, why and who should conduct psychological skills training programs.

Part VI – Enhancing health and well-being – this topic has become increasingly important in the last 20 years and the authors have devoted four chapters, regarding: exercise and psychological well-being, exercise and behavior adherence, athletic injuries and psychology, addictive and unhealthy behaviors, burnout and overtraining.

Part VII – Facilitating psychological growth and development – is a section with different topics such as children and sport, aggression in sport, and character, fair play and good sporting behavior.

It also includes web study with: 21 video demonstrations of sport psychology techniques, 30 interviews with leading experts and 89 interactive activities.

Recensione libro: Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

James K. Luiselli (Ed.)

New York, Oxford University Press

2014, 266 p.

http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199941575.do

My interest as sport psychologist in the autism disorder is born from the idea that the motor-cognitive activities and sport could affect this mental disorder in positive way improving globally the youth life style and their psychosocial and motor skills. It could seem obvious to underly this concept but it’s not, for the reason that till today it has been very few to involve these individuals in sport or motor programs on regular basis. From my side as practitioner reading this book I received a lot of updated information about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as  a relatively new diagnostic label which reflects the variability in the differentiation of symptomatology among children and youth commonly described as having autistic disorder, high-functioning autism (HFA), and Asperger’s syndrome.

Skillfully edited by James K. Luiselli Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a book of 15 chapters describing not only the theories about the autistic disorders but in same time presents the current best practices emerged from the evidence-based research, research-to-practice translation of empirically supported procedures, and consensus-driven recommendations from multiple disciplines.

For sport professionnels like coaches, sport managers, physicians and psychologists this book provide al leats three kinds of main information. The first is that also for these youth the sport determines healthy effects on their life. Second, in the same time, it’s not clear which could be the best coaching program to provide them and third we have a lot to learn from the other settings of their life, with the aim to adapt the strategies used in school or in other naturalistic approaches to build a program. Goal of the program is to develop self-management and self-regulation of their life starting from easy tasks. In my opinion, the most relevant chapter, after that ones of the first section devoted to diagnoses, assessment and measurement, is in the second section and it’s titled “Self-management and Self-regulation”. It provides the main frame to understand the goal of the interventions in the different area of the life while all the other chapters cover specific topics to achieve this goal of self-management.

All the other chapters are very interesting and each reader will find that one that will be more useful to reach his/her goals with these guys. The seven chapters of the section two describe best practices and from all of them sport practitioners can receive information and support to build their programs. Sections three (with the chapter on Exercise, Physical Activity and Sports) and four discuss in deep topics regarding food, sleep, mindful caregivers, cognitive-behavioral therapy and behavioral family intervention.

I recommend this book to all work in sport with youth of mental disorders, it provides information research-based and best practices to know in order to improve the program with youth with special needs