Monthly Archive for June, 2020

Never give up in face of the evidence

The world is full of examples that should serve to convince us that in any situation it is possible to find a solution to solve a problem or get out of a difficulty. How is it then that many people do not look for these solutions? They think instead that there are no solutions and that the examples given do not concern them but are more related to luck and chance or to the particular qualities of a person who, because of his individual characteristics, has found a solution that only he was able to implement. This is the interpretation often used to describe how a champion of sport came out of a situation judged impossible by others. The exceptional character of his/her condition, the talent, serves as justification for all those who think that, not being champions, they could never get out of that problem.

In my opinion, the problem refers to the way of thinking used by an individual. When something goes wrong, for example a bad grade at school, a badly lost race or an argument at work, what is my reaction? Do I think it is someone’s fault? Do I think I wasn’t able to do the job? Was I unlucky?

It’s important to know your own way of assessing performance.

We know that pessimists and when we are depressed, we tend to think in this way, which has the effect of devaluing personal skills and reduces the possibility of committing to finding solutions. Optimism characterised by a superficial approach to difficulties is also harmful and of little help. Thinking about succeeding is not in itself a help to the solution.

Instead, the optimism that goes hand in hand with commitment and an awareness of the difficulty of what you are about to face must be constantly trained and pursued. Only by combining these three aspects, maximum commitment, awareness of the difficulty and optimism, will it be possible to find the appropriate solution to our problem.

In Italy, no square for physical activity at school

I read the rules for opening schools in Italy.

Physical activity has disappeared and gyms will become classrooms.

Dysfunctional conception of young people’s development is highlighted.

Obesity and sedentarily will increase: the parents’ weight status, their level of education and family income are associated with the Child’s Body Mass Index. So those who are more disadvantaged will be even more!

1970 i the foundation year of the first journal of sport psychology

This year is the 51st year since the International Journal of Sport Psychology (IJSP) was founded in 1970. We will publish two special issues, the first has a look back at the history of sport psychology and second look at the future perspective. Guest editors: Sidonio Serpa, Fabio Lucidi and Alberto Cei.

This journal was the very first dedicated specifically to sport psychology, and it was created almost 10 years before the Journal of Sport Psychology that was published for the first time only in 1979. I have heard many criticisms of the Journal, as it was called by Antonelli, being the editor together with John Salmela from 1988 to 1995. However, few people remember the many difficulties involved in its founding and development, how no publisher was willing to accept the burden of publishing a scientific journal for world-wide diffusion. Only when the Journal finally became well-known and become successful did some of the main publishing firms show interest in purchasing it. Initially the IJSP was supposed to be published in Norway, directed by Alfred Morgan Olsen – Norwegian School of Sport (1969-1992) and  ISSP vice-president – but problems arose with the publisher. In fact, Antonelli in the first issue wrote:

“The Managing Council appointed an Editorial Board (led by Olsen), and I, too, signed a contract with a Norwegian publisher. . .and I received a good number of subscriptions. Because of the problems that Dr Olsen refers to, I have found myself obliged to take on the position of Chief Editor and to find another publisher at all costs and without delay in order to start the journal. A journal that would inform all members … had become a necessity, a duty” (Antonelli, 1970, p. 3–4).

Antonelli found the person who would accept this challenge in his friend, the publisher Luigi Pozzi. Pozzi himself told me that when Antonelli proposed this enterprise just a few words were necessary to persuade him to accept. One can only agree with Salmela (1999), when he states that this was truly a heroic challenge, achieved only thanks to Antonelli’s solitary determination, without financial coverage:

“For $10 a year I am able to offer only two small, unassuming, issues, so there is another matter which I must reveal. When registration to the ISSP was free of charge, I received 1500 applications. When I asked for 10 dollars, not for the ISSP, that sustains no expenses and thus requires no money, but for the subscription, only 10% paid this fee. I have found a very understanding publisher, who has agreed to give up all his profit, and for this I publicly thank him from the bottom of my heart; but printing and mailing expenses are enormous. I will be able to print and send out the first issue with what I have received to date. And I will send it to all 1500 members. If necessary, I will then go ahead at my own expense … this is not an exhibition of crazy heroism … I am sure that when they receive this first issue, many members will pay the subscription fee for the second issue of 1970″ (Antonelli, 1970, p. 4–5).

 

The making of an expert: Anders Ericsson passed away

Anders Ericsson had a brilliant career and renewed his interest in the study of an idea as simple as the world: “How to become expert.” To try to provide an answer to this question he studied sports champions, violinists from the best schools, chess masters and many other super-performers. He has written books with compelling titles such as “The road of excellence” (1996) or “The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance” (2006). He has studied for decades the structure and acquisition of expert performance and in particular how experts learn and maintain excellent performance over time through what he called deliberate practice.

Speaker - Pallas Gathering

Deliberate practice is a purpose-oriented activity and, therefore, one knows the goals and how to meet them.

In music, few students can have a full-time violin teacher, the standard is to take lessons during the week and do the teacher’s homework. Therefore at home, students practice to improve their level of competence.

It therefore requires the existence of a teacher who provides practical exercises to improve one’s skills.

In short, deliberate practice:

  • develops the skills that others already have by following a specific training.
  • puts the person out of the comfort zone, constantly looking for improvement with a quasi-maximal level of commitment
  • provides for specific objectives and not for generic improvements
  • requires full attention and conscious action
  • needs feedback and commitment changes, according to the teacher’s comments and instructions
  • provides for the improvement of the mental representation of one’s performance
  • requires changing previous skills to provide better performance

Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology, Florida State University and Conradi Eminent Scholar was born in 1947 and passed away a few days ago, June 17, 2020.

Covid and mindset: a lost war

Now begins the phase of self-control. There was a case of covid in an international golf tournament, the same happened in Adria in the tournament promoted by Djokovic, where a finalist was positive. In Italy, in football there will be a bland quarantine in case the virus hit a player or other members of the team. Small but negative signals that push us to live in apnea, as if waiting.

Always negative and more relevant signals come from Italy. There are statistics that say that the number of positives is not falling as expected, probably due to inadequate behaviors. And this would increase the probability of a second wave in the autumn. According to research conducted by the Catholic University, 41% of Italians do not seem willing to vaccinate against Covid. At the moment only a few million people have downloaded the Immuni App. It is mainly people between 35 and 59 years (with 48%) to declare that they do not want to be vaccinated, it is also a transversal group in relation to professions that unites workers and entrepreneurs, employees and professionals. They share a psychological profile in which prevails a “fatalist”, “individualist and selfish” and do not perceive the value of social responsibility. The research has shown that compared to March, the self-control of the population to respect the rules has decreased, dysfunctional behaviors have increased and the emotional willingness to continue to respect them has decreased.

Therefore, these people show a difficulty in integrating the return to normality within the framework of rules that are not the usual ones, but which imply awareness of the social role of each person with regard to the management of their own health and responsibility towards their community. These dysfunctional attitudes are the usual ones that people use to justify to themselves behaviors that are clearly negative for their health, just think of the problems related to smoking, nutrition and sedentary lifestyle, just to remember the most common ones in our society. The fatalistic approach (“I will certainly not die of cancer because I smoke” or “You have to die of something anyway”) and the individualistic approach (“They say what they want me to smoke” or “Life is mine and I do what I want”) are enemies of social life and personal self-control. We are faced, therefore, with the reactions that people show to those problems requiring solutions that are developed in the long term and do not end quickly. They are not reactions different from those they have used in the past, but until now they have mainly involved only themselves.

To this approach should be added that crowding into a square to have fun with friends immediately produces positive emotions, while respecting the rules of physical distancing to stay healthy will only produce a positive effect over time. In essence, these behaviours are reinforced by the immediate benefits that they bring and that outweigh the costs and consequences over time.

We need a change of mentality because now it is completely different and the effects of our actions have an effect on the health of others we come into contact with.The difference lies in the pandemic that involves the whole of society, which has hit everyone’s daily life very hard and still continues to change the rules of social coexistence and work. All this requires a collective solution that drastically reduces dysfunctional behaviors and the whole country will have to actively move in this direction.

The role of the family to promote their children development through the movement

Rhodes, R.E., Guerrero, M.D., Vanderloo, L.M. et al. Development of a consensus statement on the role of the family in the physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours of children and youth. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 17, 74 (2020). 

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines were recently developed to provide public health guidelines integrating recommendations for physical activity, sedentary, and sleep behaviours for the pediatric population ranging from 0 to 4 years and 5 to 17 years.

Children and youth who adhere to these guidelines are more likely to display healthy growth, body composition, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness, cardiovascular and metabolic health, motor development, cognitive development, academic achievement, emotional regulation, pro-social behaviours, and overall quality of life.

Unfortunately, among Canadian children, only 13% of 3–4-year-olds, 17% of 5–17 year-olds, and 3% of 11–15 year-olds adhere to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines. Similar low adherence to healthy movement behaviour recommendations among children and youth have been reported in samples from Australia, Belgium, Mozambique, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and even lower adherences in China, Singapore and South Korea.

Parenting practices that influence child and youth health behaviours include components of responsiveness (providing encouragement and autonomy), structure (providing social and physical environments) and demandingness (restrictive and punitive practices).

With constantly changing environments (including practices, policies, social norms, built features, technology) at home, childcare centres, schools and in communities, coupled with the new paradigm of integrated movement behaviours, the challenges for achieving healthy movement behaviours can be overwhelming for families and those who support them (e.g., public health professionals, health care providers, teachers, policymakers).

Active Healthy Kids Canada and ParticipACTION (Canadian not-for-profit organizations) have been producing Canadian Report Cards on Physical Activity for Children and Youth since 2005.

This Consensus Statement on the Role of the Family in the Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviours of Children and Youth is the latest in this list of knowledge products and is contained within the 2020 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

How should a coach handle the emotions?

A question from a coach. To manage our emotions… What have I to do?
First recognize them, then work on them. Could it be useful to talk with other colleagues who can help me with an external, more objective view of my emotional reactions?

An action plan in 6 points:

  1. Comparison with colleagues on how to handle disappointment rather than enthusiasm is useful.
  2. It is decisive to accept what we feel at that moment, even if we don’t like it.
  3. Only assess our behavior in that situation and never extend it to our person in global terms.
  4. Reflecting on alternative ways of reacting to the event for which we are, for example, angry
  5. Decide how to behave the next time a similar situation arises
  6. The use of abdominal breathing, paying particular attention to lengthen the exhalation phase (counting up to 7), can be useful to regain self-control.

51° anniversary of the International Journal of Sport Psychology

This year is the 51st year since the International Journal of Sport Psychology (IJSP) was founded in 1970. We will publish two special issues, the first has a look back at the history of sport psychology. This orientation has been chosen to keep alive the memory of how we have come to the present development and which were the most prominent players in this path. Today we have more than 10 journals dedicated to this discipline, which are also associated with the many other sports science journals that regularly host contributions of a psychological nature. Throughout the 1970s the only magazine available was IJSP, at least until the publication in 1979 of the Journal of Sport Psychology founded by Rainer Martens. The second issue is dedicated more to the future, identifying not only some trends in development but also how research on some classic themes is reorienting itself according to the changes in our society.

IJSP has celebrated itself once again in all these years. Ferruccio Antonelli made his debut in this regard:

“This special issue celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Journal and the fifteenth anniversary of the Society. It will readers its readers while European Section of ISSP – the FEPSAC – is holding its fifth Congress (September 1979) in Varna, Bulgaria, and celebrating its tenth anniversary” (p.149).

The authors of this special issue have been invited to provide a contribute on one of the seven topics proposed:

  • Psychological management of top-athletes (J. Salmela)
  • Coaches and sport psychology (B.S. Rushall)
  • Female sport today: psychological consideration (D. Harris)
  • Psychology of children in sport (F.L. Smoll and L.M. Levebvre)
  • Critical issues in the application of clinical psychology in the sport setting (B.C. Ogilvie)
  • Sport psychology foe handicapped (H. Rieder)
  • Research in sport psychology (R.N. Singer and J.E. Kane)

The publication of this special issue was a success. It’s well documented by the congratulation letters the authors sen to Ferruccio Antonelli and that I have.

  • “My congratulation to the special issue. It is really very good one” (Miroslav Vanek, ISSP President).“Congratulations on the Tenth Anniversary Special Issue of the International Journal of Sport Psychology. I hope that you have had good reactions and reviews for your efforts” (Dorothy Harris)
  • “Thank you for sending a copy of the anniversary issue of IJSP. You are to be commended for initiating such an ambitious project and congratulated for the quality of the final product” (Frank L. Smoll).
  • “Each issue of the International Journal of Sport Psychology seems to get better and better” (Robert N. Singer).

Certainly also IJSP will have to renew itself as it is happening in the world of research to face the new challenges of the next decade. In any case, we are now proud that an Italian publisher, Luigi Pozzi publisher, has kept its commitment to lead the magazine to the point of being spread in all continents and to have an Editorial Board reflecting this spread in the world.

I would like to thank Sidonio Serpa and Fabio Lucidi for leading with me the production of these special issues, and I hope it will receive the same positive reception that Ferruccio Antonelli had in 1970.

The focus is specific to each sport

I keep hearing say to athletes: “be careful” or “focus.”

I compare these corrections to players’ frustration failures in football. When I don’t know what to do, I use them even if they’re useless.

These are the wrong words, in those moments we are attentive to the wrong things, because the human being is always attentive to something. The question is whether it is paying attention to something that is useful to carry out the task or whether it is hindering its effective execution.

The second reason why it is pointless is that the terms are too global, devoid of specificity. Nobody changes because they are told a global word: careful, calm, decisive, think.

The third reason concerns the specificity of attention. Every sport requires a certain type of attention, which should be trained and of which athletes and coaches should be aware.

To begin to understand something, I report a table with a summary description of the attentional requests in specific sports.

 

Quando focalizzarsi

Effetto aspettato

Arti marziali

 

Ogni volta che c’è sufficiente distanza fra i due avversari da permettere un respiro di 2 secondi. Istruzione mentale singola (esempio, spostamento da un punto all’altro).
Biliardo

 

Immediatamente prima di colpire la palla. Focus viene raggiunto tramite la ripetizione mentale del colpo. Momentaneo adeguamento della respirazione e della tensione muscolare, quindi orientamento dell’attenzione verso la palla che s’intende colpire.
Calcio 

 

Negli attimi precedenti l’inizio della partita o dopo un’interruzione di gioco o in seguito a una rete. Rapido controllo mentale e adeguamento del livello di tensione. Messa a fuoco su una singola istruzione tecnica o tattica (esempio: “Tieni gli occhi sulla palla,”Stai tra l’attaccante e la rete). Direzionare l’attenzione durante la partita in funzione del gioco.
Golf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immediatamente dopo avere visualizzato mentalmente un tiro, a questo punto eseguirlo. Adeguare la tensione nella parte superiore del corpo, soprattutto nelle spalle. Rilassare la tensione nelle gambe mentre si espira e concentrarsi su un singolo aspetto rilevante per il tiro. Occhio sulla pallina.
Pallavolo Immediatamente prima di battere.

 

 

Nelle pause tra i punti.

Regolare la tensione delle spalle e del collo. Istruzione tecnica e dirigere l’attenzione sulla palla.

Focalizzarsi per controllare la tensione, respiro e velocità di recupero. Subito dopo spostare l’attenzione verso l’esterno per controllare la posizione dei giocatori.

Scherma

 

Immediatamente prima di salire in pedana.

 

 

Durante le pause dell’incontro.

Regolare la tensione muscolare e la respirazione. Darsi una singola istruzione tecnica e tattica.

Concentrazione sull’aspetto del compito più importante. Eseguire un respiro profondo.

Tennis Immediatamente prima di servire. Regolare tensione muscolare spalle e collo. Istruzione tecnica e tattica singola. Occhio sulla pallina.

 

Too much facebook and doping among runners

I read long excerpts from Carlo Esposito’s book on doping in the amateur running race entitled “Inferno 2019″. It documents what a terrible thing happens, bringing those who practice it closer to the multi-dopaths of top sport.

The author highlights the role of facebook in amplifying this phenomenon. This juxtaposition is not surprising, since it is a container used to cultivate the pathological narcissism of these people. The performance improvements that are achieved with doping and drug abuse become a way to gain status and popularity. Facebook is the space for spreading this self-image.

Doping like financial fraud is based on the concept of deception. I described how it happens in my book “The Lords of Traps”. Here I quote the definition.

For cognitive psychology “a deception is an act or trait of an M organism that has the purpose of not letting an I organism have true knowledge that is relevant to that organism, and that does not reveal that purpose” (Castelfranchi e Poggi, 1998, p.55). In this sense, it is an action that makes sense to perform only if one is inserted within a certain relational and social context, since it is precisely in that context that M and I subjects live, for whom fraud takes on meaning.

The concept of act referred to when talking about fraud essentially concerns conscious processes, carried out intentionally. In fact, the act of doping consists essentially in actions that are characterized in volunteer terms in the search for fraud strategies and ways to implement them. One of the disturbing and sensational aspects of this phenomenon certainly concerns the great social importance of the deception warped against those who, in top-level sport, admire these athletes for their exceptional sporting performance. This highlights another crucial component of the fraud process: the relevance of deception to the deceived. In fact, the lack of knowledge on the part of others, whether they are mere fans or opponents, of the real condition of the athlete, occurs through the theft of essential information, preventing the correct evaluation of the performance of doped athletes. In other words, it is made to believe the false, to the detriment of making the truth known.

Finally, the process of deception includes a further aspect, related to not letting the deceived know that he is being deceived. When you falsify, you do exactly this kind of operation, you give false information, with the declared intention of making people believe it to be true, and you take actions to convince the deceived of the goodness of what is being claimed.

Regardless of the fact that these abuses concern doping carried out to provide excellent performance at the Olympics, rather than that more simply practiced by recreational athletes, all the frauds have three elements in common that when compared with those used by Castelfranchi and Poggi to describe the process of deception are thus associated:

  • they are carried out in a secret way and this dimension can be attributed to the factor called meta-deception.
  • violate the relationship of trust between those who carries it out and the organisation/sporting environment that is a victim of it and, therefore, are based on the non-truth factor
  • are intended to bring economic and/or social benefits to fraudsters and, therefore, are identified in terms of their specific purpose.