Monthly Archive for March, 2021

The routine relevance

The routine prevents a decrease in performance after a break [Warm-Up Decrement, WUD].

This decrement is particularly noticeable in sports where there are short breaks in play, at the end of which athletes must immediately deliver high-level performance.

Ttime-out in team sports:

  1. Often dictated not only by technical reasons, but by the reason to block a favorable phase of play of the opponents. These breaks determine a reduction in activation, which manifests itself through a temporary loss of that optimal internal condition that allows to provide an effective performance.
  2. The athlete before resuming the game must readjust his internal system and his attention to the demands of the performance so as to be ready to respond again.

The best warm-up is one that encompasses the critical elements of the performance to be performed.

Indicated in preparation for performing closed skills where a high degree of environmental stability is present and the athlete can carefully prepare to select the response and execute it.

It has been shown that experienced athletes, compared to subjects of lower levels, devote more time to the routine

Athletes who have participated in the Olympics:

  1. in wrestling, athletes who have won a medal systematically implement specific pre-race routines for the duration of the Olympic tournament, while those in the same U.S. team with inferior results used it much less continuously (they did not perform it before matches they considered easy or undemanding)
  2. in swimmers, their routines are divided into two parts, the first dedicated to the race plan and the second to its implementation.

Self-Motivation: Three good reasons & some strategies

Renato Villalta with the Italian basketball team played 207 games, ranking 7th in the attendance chart and scoring 2265 points, 3rd overall among scorers; he participated in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, winning the silver medal, after losing the final 77-86 against Yugoslavia. In 1983 in France, in Limoges, again with the National team, he won the gold medal at the European Championships and the silver medal at the Mediterranean Games. In 1984, together with his national teammates, he finished in 5th place at the Los Angeles Olympics. In 1985 he gained another medal at the European Championships in Germany, winning the bronze medal behind the USSR and Czechoslovakia. The following year, at the World Championships in Spain, the team placed sixth.

Why should I train mentally?

Many athletes and coaches still do not understand this simple concept.

“Psychological skills training refers to the systematic and consistent practice of psychological or mental skills for the purpose of increasing performance, enhancing enjoyment, or achieving high levels of satisfaction in sport and physical activity.”

Instead, many have a conception based on:

  1. Talent doesn’t need it
  2. I don’t need it for now
  3. It’s not for me
  4. I should just have a little more confidence
  5. The important thing is the training
  6. These are things that you learn when you compete
  7. I only need one experience
  8. I already have a coach who tells me what to do
  9. I tried that and it didn’t help
  10. I already know what to do

E- Sports: stress & videogames

Over the past century in sport psychology, stress has been a major topic of study.

One of the most cited definitions is by Selye (1956), who defines stress as “a nonspecific, activation response exhibited by the organism when faced with an unforeseen need or adapting to a disorganizing novelty.” Much is understood about the influence of stress in sports performance; however, little is known about what happens in an e-sports performance.

The most recent systematic review on stress in gamers comes from the University of Leipzig (Leis & Lautenbach, 2020), which collects 17 studies on stress in e-sports. Stress stems from:

  • internal factors – age, gender, previous experiences
  • external factors – game environment, presence of audience, game results

Stress in e-sports should be monitored at 3 different moments: baseline (resting condition), competition (the event) and post competition (post event). The levels of stress and activation depending on the type of video game and if it is a competitive or non-competitive session.

To lknow more read the full article by Emiliano Bernardi on Horizon Psytech & Games

Football and autism

There are few research studies conducted on the topic of soccer and autism, below are the studies on youth with ASD presented in an article by Vetri and Roccella (2020). On the Playing Field to Improve: A Goal for Autism. Medicine, 56.

Hayward et al. (2016) investigated a group of 18 children with ASD (7-11 years old) who participated in a 16-week community-based program The authors assessed physical activity outcomes such as pre- and post-football skills, participant attendance, and parent satisfaction. The purpose of their soccer program was to teach children with ASD the basic soccer skills while giving them the opportunity to have fun and interact with peers. The results supported the feasibility and effectiveness of a soccer program because they showed improvements in shot accuracy and agility on the 15-yard line. Parents’ overall satisfaction was very good and perceived their children as more active and enjoying playing soccer

Calcio Insieme is a project promoted by the Fondazione Roma Cares (a non-profit organization linked to AS ROMA and the sport association Accademia di Calcio Integrato). Cei et al. (2017) recruited 30 children with ASD (6-13 years old) to study the effects of a soccer-based training program. All children underwent initial and final quantitative motor assessment. The authors used a qualitative approach to assess psychosocial skills at the beginning and end of the training period through interviews with their parents and teachers of the youth. Results showed that parents and teachers perceived most children with ASD to have improved psychosocial and communication skills. Motor skills assessed quantitatively showed significant improvement in the following six out of ten tests: walking between cones, running between cones, rolling on the mat, jumping high (three 20/30 cm obstacles), grasping (five throws from 1 to 5 m away from the instructor), and staying balanced on the jellyfish.

A third research was conducted by Chambers and Radley (2020) who used a different approach. preferring a peer-mediated intervention to promote skill acquisition in children with ASD. The authors selected three male students with autism (ages 11 and 12, respectively) and instructed a 14-year-old peer interventionist common to all three participants. The soccer skills assessed were throwing, kicking, and defense. During the training sessions, the peer explained and demonstrated soccer skills to the children with ASD and provided technical instruction after practice to correct errors. At the end of the study, the three participants rapidly acquired the coached soccer skills and accuracy in executing the skills persisted over time, in the absence of any peer intervention.

Prandelli leaves Fiorentina bench

Juventus is victim of its successes

Juventus seems to be a victim of its own successes (9 consecutive championships won). The team has changed several players, but when you join a club with these results behind you, you can be prone to assume an arrogant mentality, centered on the results of the near past, but not belonging to the present. In this way, you can play a game with a mental approach to wait for the expected positive result, victory. This approach can also explain the mistakes of superficial behaviors committed by Arthur against Benevento and by Bentancur in the Champions League that gave away a goal to the opponents.

A typical mistake of arrogance lies in the condition that the normal rules for this team do not apply. The successes of past years can blind the team, prone them to believe that a winning solution is always available anyway.
Another mistake of this mentality is the belief in one’s own ability to solve games. It is certainly a positive belief, but only if it is coupled with the necessary commitment, otherwise it remains only an optimistic hope.

A third error of this arrogant mentality lies in the explanations provided by the coach, Andrea Pirlo, who interprets, at least publicly, these negative results with some errors of individual players. It is obvious that there have been mistakes, but in a team these errors of mentality of the single players manifest themselves when there is a lack of team cohesion in the commitment with which to face the matches. There has been a lack of player-leaders who must maintain high levels of focus during the game without the game becoming impulsive and too fast.

European Congress of Sport Psychology

To reflect on winning

The only way to develop a winning mentality is to win. I’m not saying we have to start winning because we already win, but we have to win more and more (Julio Velasco).

The biggest difficulty I have had with my players in my career is translating to them in training the difficulty of competition. I ask them to do certain things in a certain way, not because I like it, but because otherwise they will find an opponent who will not let them do it. In basketball, things have to be done with a big guy like you pushing you when you touch the ball. Things have to be done with ten thousand people insulting you. Things have to be done with a referee that you might not see. And then you have to get used to these things in training, you can’t ask me for 10-15 games to understand what life is like (Ettore Messina).

It is a problem of self-need. I believe that I can be a coach if I struggle to stimulate self-desire. If as a coach I can convince 3 of my 10 players to be self-demanding with themselves and their teammates, I’ve won. I don’t coach anymore. I just watch, and the car goes on its own. Our struggle is not change of direction, schema 1 or schema 3. Our struggle is for our players to get to the point where, under great pressure, they pass the ball to each other (Ettore Messina).

“We have to stop considering cleverness a virtue and hustling an art: perfectionism has to beat our ingrained brashness … Motivation is like strength: it is never the same for anyone. But like strength, motivation can also be trained, and the most effective way to do this is not to rest too much on our laurels (Arrigo Sacchi).

Making a team win is not a matter of how great the player or players are. They all have to be willing to sacrifice and give something of themselves to become champions (Phil Jackson).

The spirit, the will to win, and the desire to excel are the things that last. These are far more important than the events that happen (John Wooden).

A champion is afraid to lose, everyone else is afraid to win (Billie Jean King)

IJSP 2° Special Issue: 50° Anniversary

2° SPECIAL ISSUE 1970-2020


Guest Editors: Sidonio Serpa, Fabio Lucidi, Alberto Cei

Fifty years with the International Journal of Sport Psychology. 

From the history of sport psychology to its actual pathways


Fifty years after its appearance as the very first journal specifically com- mitted to sport psychology, the International Journal of Sport Psychology (IJSP) is today a well reputed and well established scientific journal. Aimed at both researchers and practitioners, the papers published are often not just of academic interest, but also have practical applications too.

After the first special issue looking back at the history of sport psychology, with this second issue we are interested to reflect about contemporary sport psychology and the actual role of the IJSP as a peer reviewed journal publishing and circulating research findings and theoretical speculation from sport psychologist over five continents (both scientists and practitioners) to learn from and build upon.

The aim of this second special issue is than to underline how the historical background showed in the previous issue leaded sport psychology toward actual pathways, focusing on some new trends of research, as well as on the reorientation of some classic topics according to the society changes. Through the contribution of some invited scholars, the present issue would make a point trying to understand what changes sport psychology is facing, or has to face, in relation to some main issues.

Youth sport research: Describing the integrated dynamic elements of the personal assets framework


This critical review of the youth sport literature provides a guiding framework to inform future studies and interventions aimed at understanding or manipulating mechanisms proposed to explain youth athlete development. A global vision of ath- lete development is presented through the interactions of three dynamic elements: (1) appropriate settings, (2) quality social dynamics, and (3) personal engagement in activities. These elements are further broken down into individual layers, extending proximally to distally with layers positioned closest to an athlete having the most immediate impact. Given the correct arrangement, these dynamic elements work in concert to foster immediate, short-term, and long-term outcomes related to develop- ment in sport. We provide a detailed description of each dynamic element and include example literature associated with each of the subsequent layers.

50th years of research on doping prevention. A narrative review of tracks and perspectives.


While the use of Performance-Enhancing and Aesthetic Substances (PAES) has been observed for thousands of years, doping has been conceptualized and regulated only in the modern era. The aim of the present study was to review the doping prevention theme in a narrative manner. The theoretical and research considerations presented in this article overall are guided by the assumption that doping behavior partly depends on the dynamic interplay between a set of individual factors, its environment, and the goal that guide the intentional behavior. Relatedly, this article introduces the general hypothesis that these forms interplay between socio-cognitive variables of particular importance in contributing to the scientific understanding of doping use, as they might help accounting for individual differences in doping intentions and doping use. In doing so, there are described theoretical and research frameworks that indirectly support this general view, and subsequently, is addressed the value of a focus on doping research. Finally, there are reported different research programs that have been tried to find empirical support to the hypothesized linkages between intervention, their efficacy and doping use in various sport contexts.

Exercise psychology meets public health: Avenues on health enhancing physical activity


Across its many different forms, physical activity (PA) has multiplicative health, social and economic benefits. Thus, PA promotion, traditionally addressed by the sports and exercise sector, is now being targeted intersectorally, including public health and policy. Developments in evidence regarding the physical and mental health benefits of even light PA, for short periods of time, have facilitated the publication of solid guidelines, but challenge remains on how to promote it. The majority of the evidence uses behavioral-change models typically used in the field of health psychology, applied to all sets of ill-health behaviors. However, given all the specificities of PA related behaviors (not confined to structured exercise), and their potential to be inherently intrinsic for one side, and automatically activated on the other, new approaches and models need to be further explored and tested. This paper aims to reflect on how the advances in exercise psychology and their intersection with health psychology can contribute to public health efforts on addressing the physical inactivity pandemic, while exploring examples from micro and macro level approaches, including an overview of PA promotion models in health care settings and the potential of digital tools in this field.

The psychological aspects of electronic sports: Tips for sports psychologists


Professional competition in the field of videogames, known as electronic sports (esports), is rapidly growing and sport psychologists are considering provid- ing support to optimize performance. However, psychologists doubt whether esports is an activity of their competence and players (gamers) and coaches know little about how psychologists can help them optimize their performance. The aim of this article is to bring information related to esports and to how sports psychology applies to the context of competitive gaming. The paper begins with an overview of video gaming, tracing the evolution from the first recreational games to the international competitions of today. The article goes on to define esports and to discuss the extent to which they can be considered sports. Next, the article discusses the role of the sport psychologist in esports and offers an overview of the psychological issues worthy of special attention in this field. In addition, the article presents a career model applied to esports. Finally, the authors provide some reflections on the psychological factors involved in esports, highlight the possible roles of sport psy- chologists, and suggest possible directions for future research and interventions.

Is culture a (still) useful category of psychological and social analysis?


The need to centralize culture in research and practice is now well-established in sport psychology and spans different genres of our discipline. Yet, in spite of some precious gains made in the last decade, the culture concept and the uses of it in sport psychology have already arguably become limited and stifled. Setting this observation within historical patterns of culture study witnessed in other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, cultural studies, organizational management), we offer a theoretical critique that outlines the possibility for the death of culture as a meaningful concept in Organizational Sport Psychology and Cultural Sport Psychology. Subsequently, we argue for the continued usefulness of culture and, how, in spite of many infirmities, it remains an essential concept for the analysis of psychological and social life. For culture to remain intellectually vital in these analyses (and in the development of competent cultural practice) though, it must be positioned differently, and with more theoretical variety and rigor. To support our arguments, we close with 5 (not exhaustive) recommendations that can help to secure the future of culture in sport psychology.

Sport performance interventions: Evaluating past strategies and providing future recommendations


The purpose of this review is to highlight the emergence and development of psychological interventions that facilitate optimal performance, and propose future directions for applied sport interventions. Within the past 40 years, educational and alternative psychological skills training (PST) strategies (e.g., self-talk, relaxation) have been proposed, and researchers have shown they can be effective in facilitating athletic performance. However, such PST interventions largely promote the removal (or reduction) of unwanted psychological experiences. In contrast, researchers have offered contemporary approaches whereby athletes should be encouraged to increase their capacity to experience unwanted feelings, cognitions, or intentions, rather eliminating them, to increase psychological flexibility for optimal performance. We review this literature and offer future research directions that focus on the use of technology, on-line sport psychology consultancy, and consideration of post-performance assessments, as methods to improve future PST intervention delivery.

Coaching with virtual reality, intelligent glasses and neurofeedback: The potential impact of new technologies


The last decades have seen new sport technologies become increasingly important for recording, analyzing, and optimizing athletic performances. Combined with valid and defined diagnostic methods, these techniques have opened new perspectives and opportunities for an individualized and context-sensitive action support for training, competition, daily living management and communication. New technologies do not only allow athletes to reach better training results in a less amount of time, but also allow coaches to get more insights on training processes with more effectiveness. This contribution provides an overview of recent technological advancements in sport psychology and highlights their key characteristics as well as useful applications. Techniques that enrich the physical environment of athletes, such as virtual, augmented, and mixed realities are described with modern and mobile output devices like intelligent glasses. Additionally, explanations on attentional, auditory, and brain-related technologies such as neurofeedback that can help improve the cognitive processes of athletes, and serve as diagnostic and training tools are provided. The contribution concludes with a discussion on the ethical and practical implications of these new technological approaches for sport psychology from a broader perspective.