The wrong beliefs about the mental skills

There are many people who approach the psychological preparation without knowing what it is. Often the main reason for this request comes from the experiences of athletes or those who follow them and lies in the desire to improve sports performance, to be less anxious and more determined, to accept mistakes, not to lose concentration at stressful moments. Rarely the request is more specific and, therefore, the risk is that mental training is experienced as a magical activity that will solve problems, as a kind of therapy to become more confident in the race or as a way to share the responsibility for failures with another, as parents or coaches have failed in this intent and now they try with the psychologist.

This approach reveals the lack of knowledge in relation to what a psychological preparation program is. Many coaches, athletes and parents approach the psychologist to find simple and easy solutions. They think that in a short time, maybe a few weeks, the athletes will improve the confidence and stress management. They also apply in this area, the widespread attitude in today’s society to be impatient in face of difficulties and the belief to solve them in a short time.

They are not aware that psychological skills, like any other type of skill, require continuous and intensive training over time. The word training next to mental is not there at random but it serves to highlight the need for continuous practice over time.

World champions also have to manage their emotions

Research data emerging from TAIS Performance Systems and elaborated by me show that the management of emotions is a decisive aspect for all athletes, be they College level, international level or world champions. In fact, the results below show that even world championship winners believe that emotions can be a significant disruptive factor to manage effectively.

They consider themselves to be better than the group called athletes, which includes athletes of international level in their sport. On the contrary, it emerges that in the business world, the men and women managers, perceive themselves to be much less emotionally influential than world champions. Probably on this difference in perception weighs the difference in age also very significant and the characteristics of performance, which in sport are typically individual and occur in a short time, quite frequent, predetermined and without possibility of postponement. To compete every week as in team sports, tennis, skiing and many others determines a continuous up and down of one’s emotional condition, requiring a constant and frequent control of one’s moods. This explains why the world’s top athletes follow psychological preparation programs in order to use at the best their sport and competitive skills, while maintaining a high level of self-control.

Use your social and cognitive skills to find a job

Jobs with a high demand for cognitive and human skills, and therefore cities with a high concentration of such occupations, are generally less sensitive to recessions, according to a study by Carlianne Patrick and Amanda Weinstein. Their research is the first to show that the recovery of metropolitan areas from economic recessions depends more on the composition of skills – cognitive, social or motor skills – than on the level of education, which is more difficult to measure.

“Existing studies show that recessions reinforce trends already in place, so we looked at the data in light of multiple recessions, especially the Great Recession. With each recession, it seemed to take the economy longer to recover, and we wanted to understand that particular trend,” said Patrick. “In the Great Recession, for example, more than 8.6 million people across the country lost their jobs, but not always in proportionate amounts to their community populations.”

Researchers examined metropolitan areas with high levels of cognitive and social skills, and others with a high concentration of motor skills. They found that workers with high cognitive and/or social skills had less unemployment, especially during recessions, than those with high motor skills.

In addition, metropolitan areas, even small ones, which were fortunate to have a high concentration of workers with cognitive and social skills, were not only less likely to feel the effects of a recession, but were more likely to recover quickly from a recession.

“Occupational data shows that people with cognitive skills also tend to have people skills, and it’s the ability to relate to people that is most important in reducing the length of time it takes a city to return to pre-recession levels … Education is important but it’s not enough. It’s critical to cultivate people skills in workers with motor skills, to help them weather changing economic conditions,” Patrick said.

Because workers need high levels of cognitive and social skills to increase their chances of employment during a recession, researchers suggest that governments, particularly in cities and regions that have historically relied on motor skills, should consider training workers to build their cognitive and social skills and people to foster more resilient and recession-proof economies.

As long as I breath, I hope

 

“As long as I breathe, I hope.”

(Cicero)

… reciting pieces of a trial in a court on a steep climb learned to pronounce the maximum number of words with a single exhalation.

He trained himself to speak in a medium tone that could be heard at 50 paces. Never bend your neck, don’t move your shoulders. The eyes must always follow the gesture unless you have to reject an eventuality. To use your fingers, bend your middle finger towards your thumb, extending the other three.

The training keys: commitment and persistence

In training intensity and persistence are the two aspects that most frequently determine the athletes’ mistakes. Many are satisfied to train good enough, without being aware that it is precisely this way of thinking is slowing down their improvement.

The performance quality cannot be manifested with a good enough commitment, this seems to me an aspect that young athletes often do not consider as decisive for their improvement. At the same time, coaches can also fall into this trap, when they do not consider commitment at the first place in their teaching strategies, because too focused on correcting the sport technique.

Robert Singer wrote that at the end every performance is determined by three factors, of which the last two are much less considered than the first:

  1. personal potential
  2. sincere commitment to practise, condition and improve oneself
  3. ability to do well under competitive stress

The latter two are in fact often explained in terms of natural skills or instinct and in this way they are less trained than the other skills. On the contrary, the experience of top athletes, by their own affirmation, has taught us that it takes years of intense and continuous dedication to achieve remarkable results.
The mantra of these top athletes is “try and try again”.

This does not happen because today’s young people are lazy! It happens because we think it’s just a matter of technical training and physical preparation and time. While the lack of improvement is interpreted in terms of a block that will go away at the first success, of parents putting pressure or lack of confidence.

It is infrequent to think that young athletes may be wrong because they do the exercises in training with the same mentality with which they do (or used to do) their homework. For them it is enough to do the exercise and they do not bother to prepare themselves to do it not only well but in the best way they are able. They just do it. For them this means being concentrated. By this I mean that they are not aware of how they have to prepare to do the best they can and they do not know what mental and motor skills they have to put in place to meet the demands of the task.

In general terms, they train without a personal purpose, rather with the only aim of meeting the needs of their coach. Without a personal goal, they will not be able to fully develop their skills as an athlete, but above all they will experience the misunderstanding that they are trying their hardest while it is not true.

Charles Darwin remember us the relevance of the scientific thinking

On the day of the birth of Charles Robert Darwin (Shrewsbury, February 12, 1809 – London, April 19, 1882) I took up my copy of “The Descent of Man” in its first Italian translation in 1872 by Michele Lessona and read some paragraphs that it is always necessary remember, to reflect on the importance of science and the rational thinking.

“The nature of the following work will be best understood by a brief account of how it came to be written. During many years I collected notes on the origin or descent of man, without any intention of publishing on the subject, but rather with the determination not to publish, as I thought that I should thus only add to the prejudices against my views. It seemed to me sufficient to indicate, in the first edition of my Origin of Species, that by this work light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history; and this implies that man must be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth. Now the case wears a wholly different aspect. When a naturalist like Carl Vogt ventures to say in his address as President of the National Institution of Geneva (1869): Personne, en Europe au moins, n’ose plus soutenir la cration indépendante et de toutes pièces, des espèces, it is manifest that at least a large number of naturalists must admit that species are the modified descendants of other species; and this especially holds good with the younger and rising naturalists. The greater number accept the agency of natural selection; though some urge, whether with justice the future must decide, that I have greatly overrated its importance.”


Many murales for Kobe Bryant

Sorry, this entry is only available in Italiano.

Give a meaning at our daily action

Raising our eyes above everyday life helps us to live it with greater acceptance and to give meaning to our actions and thoughts that not only makes immediate sense but expresses a deeper way of being.

Eduardo Galeano helps us a lot in this work and through him we know the experience of another unique, Albert Camus.

“Nel 1930 Albert Camus era il San Pietro che custodiva la porta della squadra di calcio dell’Università di Algeri. Si era abituato a giocare da portiere fin da bambino, pecche quello era il ruolo in cui meno si consumavano le scarpe. Di famiglia povera, Camus non poteva concedersi il lusso di correre in mezzo al campo: ogni sera la nonna gli controllava le suole e gli dava una solenne lezione se le trovava consumate.

Durante i suoi anni da portiere. Camus imparò molte cose: – Ho imparato che il pallone non va mai verso un giocatore dove lui si aspetta che venga. Questo mi ha aiutato molto nella vita, soprattutto nelle grandi città, dove la gente solitamente non è quel che si dice retta -.

Imparò anche saggezze difficile: a vincere senza sentirsi Dio e a perdere senza sentirsi spazzatura, e capì alcuni misteri dell’anima umana, nei labirinti della quale seppe successivamente indagare, in un pericoloso viaggio lungo il cammino dei suoi libri”.

(Eduardo Galeano, Splendori e miserie del gioco del calcio, p.66)

Why are there no reactions from Juventus players after the defeat against Verona?

How to go from a mistake to the right action

One of the reasons why we often continue to persevere with habits and behaviours that we consider to be wrong is because we are afraid of the risks we might run if we decide to change, first of all making another mistake despite the fact that we are changing.

It is certainly easier and less demanding to let ourselves be dominated by the desire to complain telling the classic phrase: “I knew it would end this way”. We continue to defend ourselves by saying that we don’t know what to do, that it’s someone else’s fault, or the bad luck that comes our way, or the fact that there is no other solution.

These are common thoughts in which it is easy to fall into and which serve to mask our deepest fears. When the athletes make the same mistake again and again I often tell to do something different, without being worried about the result, in the worst case they will make another mistake but at least it will be different. To justify this lack of initiative we hide in saying “what if it doesn’t go well?” More rarely we think if it doesn’t go well I will try to do something else until I’ll do right.

This happens because we are emotionally afraid of change and the more we feel the need for it, the more we tend to hide behind reasoning instead of acting differently.

It is important to learn to dialogue with ourselves, accepting mistakes. I propose to write a reflection on “what are mistakes for me and how do I react to them? Think about what you do in different situations in your sport:

  • in competition and in training
  • when you’re ahead or behind
  • with what words you accompany what you do right and wrong
  • when you’re happy in training and racing

Write and then read again and decide how you would like to react and which behaviors and parts you would like to eliminate, and then start training.