Monthly Archive for June, 2021

SportPsych Works: info about sport psychology

SportPsych Works is a newsletter-style fact sheet publication of APA Div. 47 (Society for Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology). Published approximately three times per year, the fact sheets serve to provide trusted and timely information to the public in an easy-to-understand Q&A format on a variety of evidence-based sport, exercise and performance psychology topics.

Below an example regarding youth sport

Why Talk About Youth Sport?

Of the estimated 60 million boys and girls who participate in youth sport, roughly one-third drop out of sport each year, and up to 70% drop out by adolescence. Youth athletes report “having fun” as the number-one reason for participating in youth sport (Visek, Mannix, DiPietro, Achrati, McDonnel, & Harris, 2015). Treating youth athletes like professionals by overemphasizing winning is a quick way to reduce their enjoyment in sport and increase competition anxiety and drop-out (O’Rourke, Smith, Smoll, & Cumming, 2011). A positive sport environment shaped by coaches and parents can increase the likelihood that young athletes realize the full benefits of youth sport.

How Can We Facilitate Positive Interactions in Youth Sport?

Positive interactions within the “Athletic Triangle” (athlete, coach, and parent), can make youth sport a positive social and learning experience for youth athletes (Smith, Smoll, & Smith, 1989). The diagram on the right highlights the Top 3 fundamental tenants of the Youth Sport Ethos of fostering fun (Visek, 2015). Continue reading to learn how you, as a coach/parent, can be a positive member of your youth’s Athletic Triangle and promote the Youth Sport Ethos.

What is a Fun Environment?

Visek and colleagues (2015) discovered the following 11 fun-dimensions of sport participation that make youth sport fun:


The fighting is the key to win the European football championship

Winning is a mixture of different ingredients that in soccer concerns the quality of the players, their ability to be cohesive in the most difficult competitive situations, is influenced by the coach and of course by the opponents play and many other aspects, including luck.

It is likely that the strongest teams that have been eliminated from this European Championship have suffered from some of these variables. I do not have the information to be able to analyze the match by examining these variables, however there is a characteristic that in my opinion is the glue to these variables and that is often decisive in favoring the final victory.

When Mourinho says that he wants “11 bastards”, Conte wants in his team aggressive players like Vidal, Ferguson waited for the 75th minute because knew from that moment his team would be unleashed, the same Tuchel saying that his players are predisposed to fight because this is their nature.

These different words affirm the idea that fighting spirit is the ingredient that a team that wants to win must show and that without this attitude even the best in quality will never achieve this result.

So let’s not be surprised if many of the best teams were eliminated, they obviously didn’t play with this approach. Combativeness does not mean to be foul but to want to win contrasts, to get up immediately when you fall, not to protest with the referee, to kick to score goals, to maintain the intensity of play throughout the match. The role of the coach is decisive in stimulating this kind of commitment.

Book review: Essential of Exercise and Sport Psychology

Essentials of Exercise and Sport Psychology

An Open Access Textbook: Society for Transparency, Openness, and Replication in Kinesiology

Zachary Zenko e Leighton Jones (a cura di)

2021, 798 pagine, 

This book is an open access textbook and can be downloaded via the address provided. It is the collaborative effort of 70 authors who worked to produce this project during Covid-19.

Chapters range from exercise psychology to sport psychology. It is composed of 33 chapters and for the Italian audience it is certainly interesting, because it proposes a 360° view of much of the current knowledge, especially in the areas of motivation, regulatory processes, personality, group dynamics and leadership.

The book also contains exercises that students and coaches can do to deepen their knowledge of specific topics.

Italia- Austria

It went well. I expected an Austria like that, but I was hoping for a fresher Italy, thanks to the rest of many against Wales. Instead, no. Mancini changed just in time: he has a great roster and he had forgotten it. Let’s start again from here and consider it a very useful lesson.

Sport means renewed joy

A month of planetary sporting events awaits us, not only the European Football Championship, but also the Tour de France, Wimbledon and then the Tokyo Olympics. We are living it in these days of soccer, great excitement has been created, in all of us there seems to prevail a sense of joy, of awareness that sport with the public even if for now limited in numbers represents the exit from a nightmare and the return to an ever greater freedom. We live these days as the final phase of a nightmarish period. The Italian athletes received today from President Mattarella the flag that they will carry to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Sport is a highly emotional activity that unites everyone under the sign of the nation. There are no other activities that have this connotation so involving beyond the political and social differences. Sport unites not because it is without faults, on the contrary it has exactly all those that our society expresses, from cheating to doping.

We need it because sport is an expression of life, of the need for movement of every human being, a primary psychological need. The more sedentary and overweight our society becomes, the greater is the unconscious desire to satisfy us through the spectacle that champions offer us with their physical effort, their sporting dexterity and the search for exceptional performance in decisive moments. They can make mistakes but for us they will always be our champions, because they live unique moments that are even difficult for us to think about and then, as we know, you can’t always win. It’s okay though, sport is cathartic, we will cry with our athletes.

Sport is such a community that it keeps the athletes and all of us together, their joys are ours and that goes for the pain of defeat as well. In short, sport is much more than a game, it is a powerful activator of our deepest emotions.

Every day over the past year we have read stories of community heroes, doctors, nurses and many others. Among them are the athletes who have shown the courage to continue preparing for something that was unknown if it would return. These are stories of resilience, sacrifice and focus in the absence of any certainty for the future. For this reason the sporting events that are about to begin will involve us because they will be the demonstration that we can return to live the game with happiness.

10 summer camp goals for young with intellectual disability

What we learn from a summer camp for youth with intellectual disabilities (ID).

  1. 5 hours of activities alternating between soccer, motor coordination and with the ball, and expressive activities are an adequate amount of time for everyone, even the youngest (6/7 years old) and those with more serious disorders.
  2. We have estimated that a week of summer camp of 25 hours is equivalent to 2 months of bi-weekly training of two hours.
  3. 5 hours of activity carried out outdoors and in total safety represents a unique experience that almost all young people with ID do not experience. Thus, satisfaction of basic needs, such as drinking and eating, is trained properly.
  4. The management of fatigue, and therefore the alternation of moments of activity with those of recovery, is another significant factor in the empowerment of these young people, who usually carry out activities at low intensity, with little energy expenditure and in indoor environments.
  5. Young people can alternate activity phases with recovery moments, without compromising the effectiveness of sports training, since the amount of time available also allows for these phases of breaks within it.
  6. Young people develop an ability to relate to each other, fostered by the breaks and the moments of transition from one activity to the next.
  7. Soccer is a sport of group and communication among players. This necessity stimulates increased verbal interactions among youth who have a verbal skill level of even a few words.
  8. The adult who leads the activities becomes an effective reference for all of them, to respond to the needs that continually emerge during the activity, and is also a facilitator of respect for the rules of life in common in the group.
  9. The motor and sport development of soccer is thus trained with a continuity and frequency that the usual one-hour training sessions do not allow. These young people with ID receive much more feedback on their activities during summer camp and can put it into practice more frequently given the large number of hours they are involved in each day.
  10. Parents are all particularly pleased to see their children’s involvement in this wide variety of activities and to see their motor and psychosocial progress.

The basic rules of the psychologist-coach collaboration

One of the main skills a sports psychologist must have is to know how to collaborate with coaches.

As we know, every sports organization follows its own rules and develops its own sports culture. This in turn determines the behavior and relationships that coaches experience with their staff. As a result, a psychologist who is likely to work in different environments must be able to forge partnerships based on the demands and culture of that specific environment.

Coaches coach but each one follows their own approach, has developed a way of relating to co-workers and athletes. The sooner the psychologist understands this, the better his collaboration with the coach and his staff will be.

“Summer Together” for young with intellectual disabiliY

The “Summer Together” camp, organized by Roma Cares together with the Academy of Integrated Football, for young people with intellectual disabilities continues with young people who have greater functional limitations in terms of motor and psychosocial. They too are engaged from 8 am to 1 pm for 5 days a week. Describing their activity is more complex than for youth with a higher level of functioning. The reason for this greater difficulty in describing it stems from the fact that they do a 1-to-1 activity, a student and a coach/psychologist. Their activity is organized of a series of motor routes but that each one accomplishes in his own way, following his own rhythm and the need to rest after the activity phases. It takes a lot of patience, enthusiasm and professionalism on the part of the adults. They must work aware of the extreme difficulties of improvement.

It is not easy to have this approach but this is the purpose of our work not only during the year but also at summer camp. We have measured that one week of summer camp (25 hours) is equivalent in terms of quantity and motor and psychological experience to two months of training. Very few scientific investigations have studied this phenomenon, demonstrating the little interest that organized sports activity has aroused so far in the scientific community.

We hope to continue this activity of summer camps in the coming years to be able to document in a continuous way the improvements of these young people and the didactic methodology useful to produce these results.

France in crisis: lack of cohesion

Hungary-France 1-1.

Once again we have witnessed the occurrence of a simple concept: it does not win the team composed of champions, but the one that stays compact around its game tactic for 90 minutes.

It is an idea that although everyone knows, it happens that the stars of a team forget it, thinking that sooner or later something will happen to allow them to score a goal and win. Less strong teams cannot afford this superficial attitude, aware (always if trained to this concept) that their only chance to win comes from the cohesion in the field guided by tactical project.

In soccer it is therefore possible more than in any other team sport that the underdog team can put the opponent in difficulty and when it goes into advantage, it can have many chances to end the game with an unhoped-for result.

For the team of champions that suffers this situation it is never easy to change the mentality when the game has started, often prevails the shock and the search for the individual solution and not for the team.

W Hungary that gave us the pleasure to watch this match, proving that value must be acquired every time on the pitch and not with words.

Tokyo 2021

After 24 years since the first Olympics I attended (Atlanta, 1996), this is the first one where I will not follow athletes fighting to win a medal. After 6 editions, I will no longer experience the excitement of talking to athletes who want to run the race of a lifetime in the following days. Working with them is always as exciting as the first time. I have never experienced their joy but the defeats that there were, I felt them inside me for a long time. I still think about some of them today and wonder what I should have done differently for the performance to go differently. The impression is that you had everything in hand and then, all of a sudden, a sea of emotions took everything away.

Pandemic affected this situation a lot. I probably had the opportunity to be part of the Chinese shooting team, I had been with them at the 2019 world championships and their sports center in Beijing but the covid is stopped this collaboration.

I will watch them on television with some disappointment that I did not this time “qualify” for the most important sporting event in the world.

(Read also: Memories of the Olympics that there won’t be)