Monthly Archive for January, 2022

How it’s changed the sport in the last 40 years

Sport has changed dramatically in the last 40 years and I believe that its different organization has greatly influenced the motivation and personality development of young people.

Once upon a time it was the young people who organized themselves and this approach stimulated them to take on responsibilities regarding the choice of the game, its rules, refereeing and choice of teammates. Today, most of these issues do not affect them because they play only in organized structures led by adults. Obviously, sport will not go back to an organization run by young people, but what skills this way of playing sport developed and how the same kind of skills can be developed today.

Today: Kids only play and participate in sports when adults formally organize them. The rest of the time they play video versions of sports on Playstations. You rarely see children organizing informal, real-world games on their own.

40 years ago: Children of all ages went to play in the backyard, at the oratory, or on a vacant lot near their homes.

Today: Children play on perfectly manicured and lined fields.
40 years ago: Children played against other neighborhood children of all ages and had to improve to compete with the older kids. They often played alone or with each other, throwing a ball against a brick wall to get better.

Today: Children attend dedicated sports facilities where an instructor teaches them only one sport. They attend different summer camps.
40 years ago: Children chose their teams by picking the best first and then the others.

Today: The team is made up of the coach.
40 years ago: Kids made up their own rules to fit the place they played.

40 years ago: You had to develop leadership skills to influence who was on your team, receive passes and be recognized as one to have on the team.                                                                                                                                          Today: Adults make the decisions in youth sports: they choose the teams and how to play.

Amazing Nadal

Besides having a die-hard psychology maybe this is the most important secret of Nadal’s success: “I went through a lot of hard times, a lot of days of hard work without seeing the light, but continuing to work and getting a lot of support from my team and family.

“I went through a lot of challenging moments, a lot of days of hard work without seeing a light there but still working and receiving plenty of support from my team and family,” he told reporters of what sparked that emotional reaction.

“So a lot of conversations with the team, with family about what can happen or what will happen if things continue like this, thinking maybe it was a chance to say goodbye. That was not a lot of months ago.

“To be where I am today, I can’t explain in words how important it is to me in terms of self-satisfaction and being thankful for the support.”

“Every single day. For a lot of months, sometimes I went on court with the team and was not able to practice for 20 minutes, nowadays for 45 minutes, and then sometimes I was able to practice for two hours. It was very difficult to predict every single day and I was working with the doctor, trying to find a solution.When if he was over his injury, Nadal said: “Well, it’s difficult to think about it now, but, you never know.

“As I say a lot of times, when could you comeback from injuries that, unfortunately I know about it very well, things are always difficult and you need to go day by day.

“You need to accept the mistakes. You need to forgive yourself when the things are not going the proper way, because that’s the only way.

“You know at the beginning the things are going to be difficult.

“Of course, you will not have the best feelings sometimes on court, but staying positive, playing with the right energy and, of course, being on the tour, practising with the guys and winning matches, for sure, helps and last week had been important for me.

Be ready to cope with incertitude

Working with athletes I realize that often their main limitation is not knowing how to deal with uncertainties, indeed it is precisely these situations that highlight our vulnerability. So we suffer thinking that the world is there with us or even that we are insecure people who do not know how to find the right solutions.

Both cases reveal that we have put ourselves in a situation where we will continue to suffer what happens without finding any form of resilience.

Training is also often one of the causes of this way of thinking. A lot of time is spent on improving technique and very little time on teaching how to be determined. We think a lot about knowing how to do the right thing but little about developing the determination that then manifests itself through technique.

The result is that many do the right things at the wrong time while others do them in a way that is not very determined. The result does not change and is negative.

The training in sport psychology

In Italy in the last 5 years, the number of members of the Order of Psychologists has increased by thousands of professionals, in 2016 were 100,566 and in 2020 became 117,762. In 2011 there were far fewer, 81,757.

At this time, I am busy organizing a master’s program in sport psychology and I am realizing that it is not easy to reach a large number of enrollees. Some colleagues tell me that this is due to competition from other masters, some online, which better meet the needs of young psychologists and consequently have a more limited cost.

This explanation, however, I do not find convincing for the simple fact that in the last 10 years the number of psychologists enrolled in the Order has increased 36,005 units and only in the last 5 years by 17,196; with an increase of about 5,000 new psychologists enrolled in 2020 compared to the previous year. Therefore, there is a large number of psychologists who after finishing their studies should undertake postgraduate training in one in the different fields of psychology.

Sport psychology is often not chosen because it is not clear what career paths this field of work can offer. In our country people often live sport psychology as a choice between two options, to be lucky enough to work with a Champion or to work at the level of youth activities (such as soccer schools), which is considered a job that does not require specific skills.

It is clear that if this is the reading of the labor market, it is useless to engage in a demanding training. As a result, being ill-prepared to deal with complex professional situations for lack of adequate training, job opportunities will concern only simple situations and easily manageable with the skills possessed.

The Master organized by Psicosport aims to fill this gap by providing a qualified training, with university professors and consultants of high profile recognizable by their curriculum, a five-month internship at sports clubs supervised and a program of involvement of psychologists even after the end of the Master.

Those interested in learning more about the topic of new professional orientations in psychology can write to me and I will send them the article I published on this topic in the magazine of the Scuola dello Sport.

Live your life till the end

You get sick, they tell you that you will die but instead of getting depressed you decide to cross the Atlantic, rowing, with two other companions. There is little to add to this story but there is much to copy.

It is a wonderful tale, for sport and life. Kat Cordiner, British rower, is 42 years old and unfortunately, according to the doctors, she has only a few more to go, due to a fatal diagnosis: terminal ovarian cancer. But Kat didn’t give up, let alone get discouraged. And so, together with two companions, over the weekend she even set a world record.

It is the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a rowboat. As explained by the Daily Mail, are about 4900 kilometers that have been covered in 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes by Cordiner and his two traveling companions, the British Abby Johnston (32 years) and Charlotte Irving (31), all three arrived Sunday evening in Antigua. Safe and sound on their boat Dolly.

British rower with incurable cancer breaks Atlantic record | Colors of India

Learn from the Sinner’s words about the defeat

We all often talk about the importance of accepting mistakes.

Jannik Sinner’s words at the end of the match he lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open tell us how an athlete expresses himself when it comes to accepting a defeat. “Today’s was a lesson. The defeat makes me realize that I still have a lot left, I need to have more solutions in the match, learn to do different things. Tsitsipas moved better, served better, hit better than me. Difficult to play against him when he is so aggressive.”

It’s not a matter of saying, as many do, that the other guy played better, but of realizing how much difference there was between you and your opponent. And then getting into the merits of those differences.

Many athletes, on the other hand, are not aware of what separates them from their opponents. Evaluation tells us Sinner does not consider absolute values. Instead, it concerns the relationship between the two opponents, it refers to how the other played to win points against me and what I did to lose them.

Only in this way can a path to improvement be formulated.

The reason we do what we do. Bigger than tennis



Which athlete I want to become

It is important and useful to ask the question: How good do I want to be?
It is not presumptuous to ask this question, it serves to set a goal and figure out how hard I need to work to achieve it.
For a young person it is not enough to have decided to pursue a career as an athlete.

The next question will be about which athlete I want to become.

  • The best in my city?
  • The best in my country?
  • An international level athlete?
  • The world champion?

If I don’t answer these questions how do I know if the sport path I am involved in is adequate to reach my goal?

To understand what kind of future I want, answer these questions below.

…I am motivated to excellence if I want to:

  • Do something difficult.
  • Feel energized.
  • Lead people or guide myself effectively, efficiently and ethically.
  • Go beyond obstacles and maintain high standards.
  • Excel for myself.
  • Increase awareness by observing my own successful experiences.

To learn more about how to achieve your goals and overcome difficulties write to me via this site.

Why do we need movement?

The diffusion of sport in our culture is not only linked to the passions aroused by the great competitive challenges of soccer championships, Olympic gold medals or America’s Cup regattas, but is also based on certain ideas that are now an integral part of people’s beliefs. The first refers to the idea that sport is wellness and the second that sport is education for life. Therefore, if we move to feel good, each individual has the fundamental right to be able to be put in a position to make movement and/or do sport and it is precisely to meet this need that sport for all was born and has spread, to the point of becoming an activity that involves millions of people.

So, what are the needs to which sport for all provides an answer?

  1. The need for movement - We live in a society that forces us to lead sedentary lives, walking to work or playing in the street are almost unthinkable activities and we must make up for this reduction in spontaneous movement by institutionalizing moments of the day to be devoted exclusively to physical activity / sports. It is now possible for millions of citizens to spend a day without even having walked 1 km.
  2. The need to educate one’s own body - The best example of educating one’s own body through movement is provided by children in the first years of life. One need only observe them to understand how much effort they put into learning to walk and run, or into acquiring those processes of self-regulation that allow them to learn while reducing the risk of harming themselves (the pleasure they take in climbing and jumping). Even for adults, the search for well-being can be satisfied through a better perception of their body or through the discovery that their mood can improve through moderate motor practice. For many individuals it is the discovery that they can actively and positively act on the reactions of their body and how these are inseparably linked to their psychological condition, in a relationship of mutual influence.
  3. The need for self-realization - In sports for all, there are very different needs for self-realization and certainly not all of them are positive. One of the forms of intelligence is kinesthetic intelligence and athletes derive a sense of personal development from the acquisition of a high level of mastery in the performance of their activities. Another mode of self-realization related, however, to sport for all is to maintain a satisfactory state of physical and mental well-being. On the other hand, those who use substances harmful to health or abuse drugs to improve their physical appearance or their sporting performance are not acceptable as forms of positive self-actualization.
  4. The need to belong - For many sportsmen and women, the search for social contact through motor/sports practice is one of the main motivations. Sport becomes synonymous with activities carried out in a group. One activity above all: running; running is an individual sport that takes place in a group, because the need to be with friends or to make new ones and to share with them one’s own personal sporting experience is a fundamental psychological dimension.
  5. The need for play and adventure - Sport for all means sport for everyone, in which the subjectivity and the needs of the individual prevail over the rules of the traditional competitive model. This is because sport for all is practiced for personal pleasure and the rules of the game are established by the participants. The prize is not the victory or the achievement of absolute performance, but the satisfaction of one’s own desire. The adventure is not only the absolute one of Messner or Soldini, but also the one of the sedentary person who decides for the first time in his life to overcome his resistance linked to his bad perception of his body or to the desire to lose weight and to follow a program of physical activity in the gym.
  6. The need to live in a natural environment - The need to do physical activity immersed in nature is increasingly felt, whether it be in a city park or at the seaside, in the mountains or in the countryside. The search for a suitable environmental context does not arise only from the pleasure of breathing cleaner air or smelling scents that we are no longer used to in the city. Even more profoundly, however, it is part of a physically active lifestyle, in which nature becomes the place par excellence in which to move, even if only to walk and chat with friends.

We have to accept our stress

If we start from the premise that “life is a wonderful thing but it could also turn into hell if we’re not careful”, then it quickly becomes clear why stress, in turn, can be just as wonderful or fatal. It’s the difficult situations that drive people to work hard to overcome them and get the results they set out to achieve. Let’s think about the first date with a girl or a guy, how did it feel, was it calm, no for sure. Did you think: will he come or won’t he come, will I be clumsy?

Challenge is also something else. Challenges even seemingly simple, such as finding time to do something you enjoy (a walk, meeting up with friends). In this case, the challenge is to do something you enjoy, for the sake of doing it, to achieve immediate goals, to get pleasure or to have fun. Leisure outside of work is one of the best predictors of well-being, and fun positively influences couple relationships and social life, which are also key indices of well-being.

It is an invitation to people to prefer experiences to passivity determined by comforts (“Why should I go out, struggle, when I can be so comfortable on the sofa watching TV”), to do rather than to have (“but if I buy that electronic device that makes me lose weight while sitting, why should I follow a diet and go to the gym?”).

These ideas are not new!!!

Benjamin Franklin, an 18th century scientist and politician, argued that teaching a young man to shave and keep his razor sharp would contribute far more to his happiness than giving him 1,000 guineas to squander. Money would have left only remorse. Whereas knowing how to shave frees a man from the harassment of the barber, his sometimes dirty fingers, offending breaths, and unsharp razors.

Taking on this new way of thinking is about taking care of oneself, it means paying attention not so much to the grandeur of the changes we might achieve after a year and at the cost of great sacrifice. Generally, setting long-term goals indicates more than anything else the person’s aspiration to achieve a certain ambitious result, but precisely because one is at the same time aware of the commitment to achieve it can be perceived as unattainable. On the contrary, one must think in terms of weekly and attainable goals.

The defenses that a person can raise to avoid taking care of themselves can be described as follows:

  1. Thinking it’s always been this way - Some people tell themselves “I’ve always been chubby, sure I’m a little chubbier now than I was before the pandemic, but how can you say no to a nice plate of pasta.” This approach indicates that the person believes he or she cannot improve his or her life because he or she has always had that problem, i.e. being overweight, and thus comes to the conclusion that there is nothing to be done. This explanation also comes to justify determine psychological characteristics: “He does not like to be alone, but even as a boy he was afraid of the dark, the light kept him company.” In these cases, the memory of the past is used to affirm the impossibility of change. It is confirmed in people’s heads that it is the past, against which nothing can be done, that guides the present and determines choices for the future.
  2. Thinking that change is not important - Others say: “I’ll lose weight, do sports or go out more with friends, but what do I gain? I’m fine as I am, I live my life, I don’t have a disease, I work, no one complains. Why should I change when I feel so good in front of the TV.” In this case, those who support this way of life are not at all aware of the damage that a sedentary life creates and only perceive the discomfort derived from engaging in activities other than the usual ones.
  3. Thinking that there is always something more important to do - Still others are convinced that “It would be nice to have time to devote to myself, but that’s how life goes, always running never a minute for you.” Compared to the unaware, these people would have the intention to change their lives in some way but feel that they do not have the right to do so as this desire of theirs comes last.
  4. Thinking that one will not be able to continue - Some others are convinced “I will never have the patience and perseverance to follow a training program, I have tried it before and always quit.” Thus, negative experiences of quitting result in a condition of insecurity, which in turn keeps the individual within their unsatisfactory way of life.
  5. Feeling ridiculous in front of others - Finally, it is possible to think that ” In the gym I feel ridiculous because everyone is dressed better and better than me” or “I should first find an instructor who explains well what I have to do, who does the simple things, then, maybe. I could do them among the others and then I am no longer young and the suit gets bigger.” This diminished acceptance of one’s physique and current fitness does not help one fit into a group, feel comfortable. One would want to achieve acceptable form first and then participate in group classes.