Let’s use summer to get out of motor laziness

When doing sports after the age of 60 we struggle with many preconceived ideas that at this point in life almost suddenly appear in our minds, because we are immersed in a culture that if on the one hand wants to promote wellness this is done mostly through marketing actions of companies that come the most disparate products from sportswear to personal care products. On the other hand, however, this kind of culture does not include the concept of fatigue, continuity of training, and prevention through free-body exercises. In essence, our society promotes an idea of wellness based on outward aspects (clothing, sports equipment, and personal care products) and at most suggests, of course, consulting a nutritionist (because overweight is an endemic problem) and walking as the main motor activity.

One of the lessons of the pandemic is the increase in sedentariness and the onset of the problems that are linked to it from weight gain to back pain and all those joint problems that are generated by sitting still for hours on end, to name but a few. When this negative manifestation asserts itself in most people it triggers the idea that I can no longer do sports because of these problems, without for that matter having understood that they are the effects instead.

I personally take care of 10 hours a week of sports activity, but it is clear that how I train today is different from how I did it when I was younger. There is a lot of prevention activity and free-body exercises, I have lengthened my recovery time and this allows me to run and bike. I do this because I enjoy it and I am happy while I am active. Also thinking about this activity and seeing others doing it makes me happy.

I have no advice for others because everyone should pursue what makes them happy. I understand that embarking on a notoriously active lifestyle requires at least initially an effort of will to overcome the habit of sitting still. However, one should be aware that the goal remains to feel good about oneself and certainly not to compete with others.

10 the football magic number

The 10 in soccer has been the jersey of the most famous champions. Now it seems there is no longer a place for these players in teams, as the Paulo Dybala affair partly explains. We understand why 10 has been the magic number in soccer

10 is the number of those who distribute play and those who run the ball down the field. 10 is the number that in 1958 by number draw Pelé received to play and win his first World Cup at age 17. It is also the number of Maradona, incredible champion, who also scored with the hand of God. Valentino Mazzola was number 10 for Grande Torino, and Mazzola was Jose Altafini’s nickname early in his career. 10 was Gianni Rivera, the first Italian to win the Ballon d’Or, of which Leo Messi won 6 instead, also wearing the same number. Juventus has had many number 10s, absolute champions such as Omar Sivori Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero and Andrea Pirlo. The qualities of the 10 are those of someone who enlightens and leads the team, the 10 is as bold as he is peremptory in his actions and shows the characteristics that Gianni Brera masterfully described when talking about one of them and that is Giuseppe Meazza (winner of the World Cup with the Italian national team in 1934 and 1938):

“Great players already existed in the world, perhaps tougher and more continuous than him, however, it did not seem to us that we could go beyond his sudden inventions, the brilliant shots, the peremptory and yet never mocking dribbles, the lonely escapes toward his lost victim of all time, the opposing goalkeeper.”[1]

The 10 bears upon himself, more than the others, the responsibility of the team; he represents its soul, its spirit. When the 10 isolates himself, the team suffers dramatically, and loses the one who everyone believes is capable of solving the game or a moment of difficulty with one of his inventions whether it be a shot, a free kick, a smarcating pass for the striker or a dribble. The 10 does not chase opponents and knows that it is “better to let the ball run, she does not sweat” (Roberto Baggio), for him “soccer is music, dance and harmony and there is nothing more cheerful than the bouncing ball” (Pelé). Besides, the 10 recognize each other, respecting each other like members of a club reserved for a few, and they know how indispensable their presence is to soccer, as Francesco Totti says of Diego Armando Maradona:

“It’s soccer, it’s the ball, like his face is on that spinning ball. What he did with the ball no one has ever done and no one ever will. He did extraordinary things, everything there was to do he did. I got to know him, and it moves me to see the picture of the two of us hugging.”

Sport is a key point in young development

Increasingly, sport is becoming the place where our young people can learn to become self-aware, responsible to themselves and others, adept at handling mistakes and correcting themselves, cooperative in a competitive environment, and competent in handling emotions.

To achieve these goals, sport must equip itself with sports managers and coaches who are aware of the value of these qualities and that sports learning can never be divorced from the development of these psychological dimensions. Just think that motor memory, that is, the ability to know how to take up a technical action in our mind and reproduce it, is always connected to the physical sensations of those movements and the state of mind with which it was learned. In essence everything that is motor is mental and vice versa. Mental repetition of a sports action immediately results in the activation of the motor systems necessary for its execution.

Only ignorance and lack of competence can prevent sports clubs from playing this role in the overall development of the young person even more so now that sports is a mass event and young people have lost all the other situations of spontaneous activity managed by them that were represented by playing in the streets, backyards, oratories, and gardens. Now there are only organized situations that should also play this role of growing the autonomy of young people through a sport.

Who is the personal trainer?

Personal trainer is a profession that is well established. It is therefore possible to identify what are the main characteristics delineating this job. I believe, of course, that the personal trainers should have at least a bachelor’s degree in sport science, after which they should have specialized in those motor and sports activities that they intend to teach their clients. The time when a bodybuilder or a person with only years of experience in the gym or on athletic fields claims to be a personal trainer should be over.

The following are the 10 main characteristics that they should demonstrate to do this work. Some relate to one’s lifestyle, some to specific knowledge and skills, and some to psychological and organizational dimensions.

  1. Physical appearance
  2. Healthy habits
  3. Knowledge of scientific data and their practical implications
  4. Skills for working with a specific population
  5. Communication and leadership skills
  6. Motivational skills
  7. Organizational and administrative skills
  8. Skills in providing a training program tailored to the needs of clients
  9. Skills in leading sessions
  10. Cognitive and emotional mental skills

Be thankful that sport gives us such incredible emotions.

This is sport, an activity that continually gives emotions, to the athletes and to us who work with them. For years, I shared the experiences and lives of those who went in search of an Olympic medal or a world championship victory. These boys and girls were experiencing incredible states of mind on their skin, chasms of fear and joy, but we who stood beside them were no less emotional in rate either. We shared happiness and disappointments with them. As I get older, I am also not indifferent to the reactions of the wonderful and splendid swimming athletes I read about these days, the despair of Quadarella and the enthusiasm of those who won the world championship with world records. Sport is a highly emotional activity that touches extreme peaks precisely with the most prepared and most successful athletes.

This is one of the reasons that makes sports unique, we have to experience emotions to feel alive, and the athletes and female athletes give us this opportunity every time they compete. We should be grateful to these young people who give them to us.

In recent years, I have been very dedicated to the younger athletes, those who travel between 13 and 20 years old. Many of them win and lose at the youth level, and I have found that the emotions I feel are the same. Their emotions are the same as those of the adults and so are ours. It should never be forgotten that this is a job that requires not only competence that of the athletes and female athletes but also, and above all, passion. And so the heart must be controlled during competitions but immediately afterwards it must be allowed to express itself freely.

Happy birthday Paul McCartney

The future of football between algorithms and creativity

If soccer is the last religious ritual of the laity, based on the fact that the goal is that rare event during the game that can happen at any instant and change the face of a game, the algorithms proposed by Wall Street Football, a start-up that deals with soccer, can destroy the emotions generated by this simple rule and make the game predictable, thus boring in the eyes of all fans.

Every company has the right to pursue its own goals, which in this case were well expressed by ceo Giovanni Bertoli when he states that it is possible to predict the footballer’s performance: shots, goals, fouls made and suffered, any action. It is an excellent opportunity offered to bookmakers who have to set odds but also for fans, for fantasy soccer. Soccer clubs could use it to get to know the players, and in the future a coach would know when and whether to replace a particular player, taking advantage of the possibility of having the data during the game in real time.

I agree with the use of the data that can be collected, but have the effects of this approach on the coach and the players been studied? Will doing the right thing at the right time be determined only by the data that comes to them or will the subjectivity of the coach continue to play an important role? Will coaches filter this information according to their own ideas or will they be induced to use it without any critical reflection? Will players become prisoners of the algorithm that will suggest how to play or will they still use creativity to get out of difficult situations?

And then why hasn’t it been studied how to apply the algorithm to the coach’s behaviors during the game to identify the effects of his leadership, finding out what percentage produces effective results and at what stages of the game. If he fills the role of leader as everyone claims, his leadership style should have a significant influence on the players, why hasn’t there been a study of how to improve his directions by scouting his behavior?

In essence, let’s not take away from the game of soccer the unpredictability of the outcome, which is determined by the subjectivity of individual players, their interactions as a team, and the coach’s behaviors, because no one wants to see perfect soccer players moving like toy soldiers coached by the coach-algorithm.

28° master in sport psichology

Si è concluso il 28 master in Psicologia dello Sport di Psicosport, in cui come coordinatrice didattica insieme al Prof. Alberto Cei, Direttore scientifico, abbiamo potuto costruire un percorso che portasse i nostri allievi a sostenere con professionalità e competenza il ruolo di psicologo dello Sport. Hanno dimostrato di poterlo fare, portando a termine con successo e soddisfazione il loro tirocinio e vedendo confermata, per gran parte di loro, una collaborazione che si trasformerà nel loro primo lavoro nello sport. Sono orgogliosa di questo gruppo e soddisfatta di poter contare su una rete rafforzata che include nuovi colleghi. Auguro loro Buon Lavoro e spero di ritrovarli e coinvolgerli presto in nuove opportunità professionali.



How to build motivation

American sprinter Michael Johnson, winner of five Olympic gold medals and eight times world champion, summed up the importance of motivation this way:

“My best motivation has always come from the sheer joy of running and competing, it’s the same thrill I get like I’m a 10-year-old kid. Have you ever met a 10-year-old who is nauseated by what he is doing? You have to find your initial motivation, which is why you will become an architect. This is the secret of perseverance.”

Sporting activity should enable the establishment of an attitude that can be summarized in the following sentence, “It is because of my commitment and the pleasure I take in it that I become better and better at what I do.” Activities motivated by an inner drive are based on the subjective perception of satisfaction derived from performing a given task. Therefore, any external intervention that tends to reduce this perception in the athlete will negatively affect his or her motivation. This is the case when an athlete strives only to receive a material (winning a trophy) or symbolic reward (“I’m doing this for my parents or coach who will be happy this way or because I will be more admired by my classmates”). Sport performance thus becomes merely a means to another end, which becomes, instead, the real end of the action: the young person does not act for the pleasure the activity itself provides him or her but to receive a certain recognition. Therefore, external reinforcements that encourage the athlete to attribute his participation to external motives reduce his internal motivation. Operationally, the coach should not make use of reinforcers that are perceived by the athlete to be more important than athletic participation itself, but should provide helpful suggestions to increase the sense of satisfaction the young person derives from the competitive experience.

Indeed, it has been documented that athletic achievements that are perceived as the result of personal internal factors such as skill, dedication, and commitment rather than external factors (luck, limited ability of opponents, favorable referee decisions) are associated with moods of satisfaction and pride.

However, the external reinforcements that an athlete receives also play a positive role. For example, with children who have not yet had any sports experience or with adults who have little sports experience. In such cases external reinforcements concerning the provision of sports equipment or gadgets, or social support derived from practice are elements that encourage participation. The same is true for economic rewards obtained by top athletes as recognition of their sporting value.

Every coach knows that setting goals is essential to stimulate motivation and improve performance. In this regard:

Working on defined and accepted goals helps improve the overall atmosphere and emotional climate of training. There is a reduction in problems related to tardiness, group laziness and lack of discipline.
Athletes, even the youngest, increasingly enhance their autonomy and learn to take responsibility for their own choices. Determination to achieve goals and to develop to their full potential is increased in this case
The coach’s leadership is accepted by the athletes through increased personal credibility;
Finally, despite the relevance that goal setting plays in increasing performance, there is also another reason that makes it necessary on the part of the athlete. For if sport and competition have a social value, consequently every individual has the right to succeed. Certainly in sport at the absolute level, the struggle for success is for the podium, and those who can aspire to this kind of achievement prepare themselves aware of the difficulties they will encounter along the way.

Then there is the success of everyone, of those who have set their goals properly and work hard to achieve them. Every person involved in sports has a responsibility to achieve for himself or herself personal success. This is the case of someone who wants to run the marathon in 4 hours; if he succeeds, he will have won his race.

Observing children engaged in sports activities not organized by adults should teach adults something very important, and that is that when they do not achieve the goal they have set for themselves, the children take it down a notch, learning from their mistakes and trying again. After a series of such adjustments and trials, success is guaranteed. The opposite happens when they succeed instead, they raise the level of difficulty of the goal. In other words, this means that in an almost spontaneous way young people modify their goals by always moving them to the limit of their possibilities. In this sense, mistakes are used as an integral part of the learning process and are not interpreted as failure.

The long term athlete development

This short article stems from the need to also acquaint coaches, physical trainers, physicians, and sports psychologists with the guidelines for long-term athlete development and how coaches can guide this process through the stimulation of athletes’ motivation.

Sport has experienced incredible development in the past 30 years, manifested through the:

  1. Involvement of millions of young people
  2. Creation of thousands of new sports clubs and practitioners
  3. Increase in scientific production in this field
  4. The search for new and more appropriate training programs for childhood and adolescence
  5. Monetization of youth sports activity
  6. Disappearance of play-sport freely organized by young people
  7. Total dominance of adults in the organization of sports
  8. Increasingly early pursuit of sports talent
  9. Significant presence of parents in the sports training of their children
  10. Diffusion of sports among young people with physical and intellectual disabilities
In spite of this great development in the world of sports, many problems are present that limit the sports development of young people, as well as are the cause of dropout that occurs from the age of 14 and is particularly severe in girls. Existing difficulties in sports have been identified as follows:
  1. Imposition of adult programs on children,
  2. Imposition of male programs on girls,
  3. Coaching programs more based on outcome (winning) rather than process (coaching),
  4. Better coaches are dedicated to competitive and absolute level sports,
  5. Programs do not take into consideration the biological development and mental processes of young people,
  6. The role of parents is poorly defined,
  7. Psychological skills are not integrated into the coaching process,
  8. Early initiation into the practice of only one sport,
  9. Competition among sports organizations to grab young people,
  10. Disinterest in young adolescents who are not interested in competitive activity.

Based on these considerations, it is necessary for sports organizations to engage young people in a sports program that provides them with the opportunity to:

  • develop and maintain permanently over time a physically active lifestyle,
  • develop their sporting potential.

Complementing the practice of sports, one of the most important elements in the development of young people is to provide opportunities and reasons for developing their sense of belonging, not only in regard to the sports club but also to the broader community in which they act on a daily basis and which includes school, parents and friends.

Therefore, the focus must be placed not only on sports development, but also on the realization of that social network of which young people are a part; consisting mostly of adults (parents, teachers and coaches) who do not habitually dialogue with each other except in the most institutional ways.