Monthly Archive for April, 2017

Youth sport: problems and solutions

Youth sport is becoming a great problem and an article published in the magazine of US Olympic Committee helps to understand what might be the reasons and proposals for solutions. I wrote in a short summary but the  article by Christine M. Brooks (Summer 2016) is certainly wider and interesting to read.

  • There is a high pediatric dropout rate from sports (between 2008 and 2013 there were 2.6 million fewer six to twelve year-old kids participating the six traditional sports).
  • Coaches are using higher training intensities at younger ages than ever before possibly causing long-term harm to young athletes (the LTAD model attempts to guide coaches about the appropriate training for children who are at different maturational phases).
  • There is an increase in childhood obesity and subsequent health problems (in the United States, 17 to 31 percent of children and adolescents are obese).
  • The principle of enjoyment embraces Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s notion of ‘FLOW,’ that in turn, explains why individuals enjoy an activity. Approximately 40 percent of pediatric athletes in one survey claim they dropped out of sports because they were not having fun. The coaching goal is to train athletes in small, manageable learning steps so they remain in the zone of FLOW. Research indicates that educated coaches lower kids’ anxiety levels and lift their self-esteem.
  • The principle of striving for improvement involves enticing young athletes to constantly strive for the upper limits of their genetic potential while concurrently keeping them in FLOW. If they are out of ‘FLOW,’ it is theoretically impossible to motivate ongoing practice and striving, and therefore progress toward full genetic potential will be blunted.
  • The principle of appropriate training goes hand-in-hand with the child’s growth and maturation. The LTAD model attempts to match structural growth and maturation to the appropriate motor skill complexity and intensity of physical training.
  • The principle of doing no harm is at the basis of coaching. Four million school-age children in the US are injured while playing sports every year. The reason can partly be attributed to stressing a body that has immature balance and coordination beyond its capacity.

Who is a competitor

“To accomplish something difficult. To master, manipulate or organize physical objects, human beings, or ideas. Do it as fast and autonomously  as possible. Go beyond the obstacles having the highest standards. Be excellent for themselves. Compete and have success. Increase the awareness through the observation of yours success experiences coming from the inner talent.” This words have been written in 1938 by H.A. Murray.

I dedicate these words to the athletes at the beginning of the new Olympic quadrennial. I wish them to find their best moments in sport.

Best wishes and your toughness and dedication be your best friends.

European Master in Sport & Exercise Psychology

The European Master in Sport and Exercise Psychology from the University of Thessaly in Greece is a postgraduate program with internationally renowned teaching staff and visiting professors from all over the world. The program with international students and the experience of the competitive “Erasmus Mundus program” provides mobility opportunities for studying abroad and obtaining a double degree. Students get high quality theoretical training and practical experience in the fast growing field of Exercise and Sport Psychology. The program places emphasis on independent and cooperative learning, and the development of communication skills,in a warm and friendly environment.




Tomorrow is the Earth Day

Do sport in the Nature

Risultati immagini per earth day 2017

Arsenal FC selection for one psychologist

The job profile published by Arsenal FC to select one psychologist for its youth program. For sure a Club where be competent is a great value!


 Arsenal Football Club Academy has for many years been a world leader in its field and is a constantly growing department within the organisation.

The aim of the Arsenal Football Academy is to tailor each individual’s development as a footballer by providing a World Class Development programme. The programme promotes the development of elite training environments to consistently outperform international competition. By placing players at the heart of the programme the aim is to develop and grow future Premier League & World Leading players in an environment which is challenging, developmental and inspirational.

Based at Hale End, the purpose of the role is to work as a Psychologist/Sport Psychologist applying psychological principles within Arsenal FC’s Youth System, alongside all relevant stakeholders to positively influence the environment, its people, and its processes.

Key Responsibilities

  • Work with the Academy Manager and Psychology & Personal Development team to contribute to a person centred environment, moreover, influence at a system, cultural, training, team and individual level.
  • Work to promote the welfare and well-being of the person (player, coach & practitioner) within the academy system
  • Apply the principles of psychology & personal development to improving performance
  • Provide individual psychological support with players & staff to address performance based challenges
  • Work closely with coaches and support staff to practically develop resilience and well-being within the training environment to lead to enhanced performance both on and off the field
  • Engage and deliver an ongoing meaningful Parent/Guardian/Host Family interaction and education curriculum in line with the Parent Strategy
  • Where appropriate identify and facilitate communication methods, to inform and educate athletes, coaches and all staff in the effective use of psychological and personal development support
  • To support, and help drive an agenda of personal development and contribute to a culture of learning within the football environment
  • Contribute to the Wellbeing & Resilience Group (WRG); with supervisory support that monitors all Youth Academy players, identifies key challenges and agrees actions and key responsibilities
  • Maintain a comprehensive record of work conducted with athletes and coaches
  • Participate in ad hoc Academy and First Team projects and or applied research across the organisation as appropriate
  • To compliment Arsenal People Development philosophy and work closely as part of the Psychology & Personal Development team to ensure a one-club approach
  • To deliver a high-quality People Development Programme (psychology, personal development, player care & life skills) at Hale End, to support the development and resilience of our current & future Arsenal players regardless of their sporting success
  • To facilitate extra-ordinary learning experiences for our young (and existing professional) players to learn from, both within and outside the club. Always championing our clubs values
  • To facilitate a variety of personal development sessions throughout the season (where possible within the playing schedule)

Main Job Requirements and Person Specification


  • Must be qualified to post graduate level in Psychology or Sport Psychology and be BPS and BASES accredited, HCPC registered or working towards HCPC registration as a Psychologist/Sport Psychologist
  • Possess qualifications In counselling, and or counselling skills, and an understanding of the importance of relationships to effective practice

Specific Experience:

  • Ability to work on own initiative, and maintain independence within the environment
  • Experience of working with young people and engaging hard to reach clients
  • Experience of working in a busy, pressurised environment (willingness to work outside 9 to 5 hours when necessary)
  • Extensive experience in the provision of psychological and personal development support to athletes and coaches to improve performance and contribute to a performance environment. This experience should include extensive work with youth teams and their athletes, in particular ages 9-16 year olds


  • Practical experience of applying psychological knowledge within an elite sport environment
  • Experience and skills in developing resilience in others, and promoting personal well-being and personal development
  • An appreciation of clinical psychology and formulation driven practice and how this can contribute to productive work with athletes and teams
  • Additional knowledge or skills in a range of psychological therapies (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling)

Hours of Work

You will be required to work a total of 40 hours per week over 5 days to include evening, weekend and matchday.

Arsenal FC is committed to the principle of equal opportunity and its policies for recruitment, selection, training, development and promotion are designed to ensure that no job applicant receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, ethnic and national origin, disability or gender reassignment.

Please note, you have until 23:59pm on Thursday 27 April 2017 to apply for this vacancy.

Closing Date: 27/04/2017

30 years ago Mental Training was published

30 years ago I published my first book of sports psychology. Mental Training illustrates a psychological preparation program organized at 8 weeks. As John Salmela wrote in 1992 in The World Sport Psychology Sourcebook: “Mental Training is an original initiative that resembles many of the North American applied sport psychology” how-to “books”. The book, in fact, is designed for athletes with the intention of providing tests for evaluation of some basic psychological skills and their competitive behavior and mental skills to teach about goal setting, relaxation, ideomotor training and concentration. This book is practical and useful to psychologists who want to approach the world of competitive sports, providing a system allowing to program the intervention through tasks and abilities to develop weekly. It’s a book that is based on my professional experiences carried out in previous years with club and national volleyball teams. In those years, it was already available a relatively broad scientific literature, showing the effectiveness of mental training for elite athletes. At this regards, Psychological Foundations of Sport edited by John Silva and Robert Weinberg (1984) can be considered the best psychology book of that period, a part of the book (5 chapters) was centered on issues related to stress management. So it was not difficult to find a scientific basis to the program that I had developed. In relation to the duration of 8 weeks, I decided to make this choice because Richard Suinn, who first introduced in 1971 in North American alpine skiing a program of competitive anxiety management through integration of relaxation with ideomotor training (which he called: visual-motor behavior rehearsal) based on 10 sessions, like a brief psychotherapy. I thought it was necessary for a longer period and I turned over a two-month. periodRisultati immagini per mental training alberto cei

The warm-up role

The blog about the warm-up has raised many confirmations by coaches, who recognize the difficulty in making live this experience as the essential condition for putting ourselves in the best mental and physical condition to start a competition, that is individual or team sport.

Which is the warm-up function. “Warm-up regards all measures that, before a workout or race, are useful both to create a state of mental and physical preparation and kinesthetic-optimal coordination, both injury prevention” (Weineck, 2001).

It must be understood that the warm-up consists of an integrated set of thoughts, actions and images activated in a consistent manner before the performance. These routines are useful because they allow to:

  • shift the focus from irrelevant stimuli
  • help not to think to the performance to execute
  • be in an appropriate level of physical and mental activation

To develop situational awareness means to teach to the athletes “that what happen before determines what happen later”

Athletes should learn to recognize and apply the following concept:

What happen before determines what happen later

Means that how you train determines how to compete, how do you perform the warm-up put yourself in the best condition to perform, that what you do during the breaks of the competitions determines how you will perform in the following period and so on. Each performer can add specific examples depending on the sport practised.

In psychology this approach to the sport has a name, it’s called situational awareness. Most of the research on this topic has been focused on military and commercial aircraft pilots. They are people really trained that to access this role have passed a tough selection. The main feature that distinguishes them is that during the flight are thinking ahead. They are therefore continuously engaged in imagining what might happen, preparing themselves to answer these hypothetical events. Show a kind of thinking “What if …” Also before the start of the mission they plan and discuss these issues.

Comparing experienced pilots (6036 flight hours) and inexperienced (720 flight hours) there was evidenced that:

  1. The amount of the pre-flight time increased in the light of experience. The most experienced pilots spent more time to gather information, plan and prepare specific plans in relation to flight conditions.
  2. The most experienced pilots were more focused on understanding and determination of actions to be taken to achieve the flight goals.

Dear player do you know how to play a tennis match?

In tennis it needs to develop a conscious monitoring of the performance. It is based on the analysis of the quality of the players’ performances in the match, on the identification of errors and procedures put in place to eliminate them. This evaluation can be provided by the coach but must also be developed by the tennis players, although young. Thus, the tennis players help themselves to become aware of the quality of their performance in a specific game, to understand how to identify and correct errors, to set new goals, to focus on overcoming their weaknesses and to monitor the progresses.

The young tennis players have to interpret their failures as opportunities for success.

In this respect a tennis players should know:

  • what are the shots they prefer
  • when they make mistakes
  • how to use their service at the best
  • be fast in the side movements and going to the net
  • how they play under pressure
  • what to do when it needs to do one point, to finish a game or set
  • how they lose/win the points

The same level of knowledge must be developed, during the match, in relation to the opponent.

Seminar: Hit the target

 Tirare al bersaglio

Le componenti psicologiche nei compiti di mira

Mercoledì 3 maggio 2017 – ore 9-17
Roma, Scuola dello Sport – Centro di Preparazione Olimpica “G. Onesti” Coni  

In many sports success and failure depend on the ability of the athlete to hit a target. In some cases, this is the only purpose of the athletes’ performances, as occurs in disciplines related to the shooting. In other sports, the athletes is required to hit a target after an opponent’s defensive measures of the opponent, like in team sports. In other cases the opponent is the target, such as fencing or boxing. In these sports, the performances are closely linked to social, emotional, behavioral, psychophysiological aspects and mental abilities that are investigated by the psychology. The knowledge of these aspects provides to the coaches clear suggestions on how to address and monitor the training and to the psychologists specific tools to correctly orient their professional skills in the field of sports. The goal of the seminar is to provide all stakeholders with the tools to expand their knowledge and to successfully interact in the interest of the athletes and their performances.