Monthly Archive for September, 2023

Who can be helped by the mental coaching?

I often hear repeatedly that mental training is only useful for high-level athletes/teams for the reason they experience such intense competitive stress situations so they need to increase their psychological skills. While, on the other hand, it would be of little use to lower level athletes/teams since they still have to work hard to improve their technical sports skills.

Personally, I am convinced that past the first stage of sport learning and one is no longer a novice, mental training becomes just as necessary as technical training. This is because of an indisputable fact: those who know how to focus more effectively, provide performance that is consistent with their technical level whatever it may be.

In fact, the mental rehearsal of the sport action before its actual execution places the individual in the “ready” condition, and the immediate execution finds him or her already focused on the performance. Moreover, mental repetition is also useful at the end of an action, especially in the event that it has been very effective.

In this case, mentally following what one has just done allows one to further memorize the act, just as if one were doing it one more time. In addition, another mental component that needs to be trained is dialogue with oneself, that is, the words we say to each other during the activity.

Learning to be positive and assertive is an extremely important psychological aspect even if you are not going to be a champion. Finally performing not only a physical but also a mental warm-up is in most sports essential for a satisfactory start. These are some reasons why mental training is useful.

The authoritarian leadership risks

When the leader of a team does not listen and tries to impose himself in an authoritarian way, this can have several consequences on the team and its functioning. Here are some of the possible reactions from the team:

  1. Frustration - Team members may feel frustrated and ignored when their leader does not listen to their opinions or ideas. This can lead to tension within the team.
  2. Lack of commitment - If team members feel that their voices do not count and that the leader makes all decisions unilaterally, they may lose motivation and become less committed to their work.
  3. Disconnection - Lack of listening from the leader can lead team members to feel disconnected and distant from the decision-making process. This can damage team cohesion.
  4. Decreased creativity and innovation - When the leader tries to impose himself or herself and does not allow free expression of ideas, the team may stop coming up with creative or innovative solutions to problems.
  5. Attrition and conflict - Lack of listening from the leader can lead to conflict within the team, as members may begin to openly disagree with the leader’s decisions or argue with each other.
  6. Reduced values - Authoritarian leadership may contribute to reduced values within the team. Team members may feel unmotivated and dissatisfied with their work.
  7. Team rupture - In some cases, if the leader’s authoritarian behavior persists without improvement, a rupture in the team may occur, with some members choosing to quit or seek opportunities elsewhere.
  8. Loss of trust - When the leader does not listen and tries to impose himself in an authoritarian manner, team members may lose trust in their leader. Trust is a key element in the smooth functioning of a team, and a loss of trust can severely damage the relationship between the leader and his subordinates
  9. Reduced collaboration - A leader who does not listen can discourage collaboration among team members. If team members see that their leader is unwilling to consider their opinions, they may be less inclined to work together and share important information.
  10. Difficulties in recruiting and retaining talent – A leader who does not listen and imposes himself may have difficulty recruiting and retaining high-level talent. Talented professionals often seek a work environment where their ideas and contributions are valued, and an authoritarian leader may reject them.

These consequences underscore the importance of leadership that is empathetic, collaborative, and open to listening to foster a healthy and productive work environment.

Optimist or pessimist? How is full your glass?

Have you ever thought that human beings are people dominated by their emotions, who somehow try to make use of them to produce logical thoughts and learn, which determine purpose-directed actions.

One proof of this approach we find well expressed by the phrase, “Seeing the glass half full or half empty.”

No one cares how objectively full the glass is, for in that case of would say, “The glass contains 50 percent water allowed by its size.”

Instead, we say it is “half full or half empty.” So the 50 percent water is valued differently depending on whether one wants to give it a positive or negative, optimistic or pessimistic emotional tinge.

Psychologists have found that every thought and action is always characterized by a pleasant or unpleasant emotional background that accompanies us relentlessly.

Understand well, then, the value of daily effort in understanding other people, understanding each other’s point of view aware of our own ideas as well. Nothing should be imposed. Those who do only out of duty will never be satisfied and will not value their actions, for the simple fact that they are not their own but those required by someone else.

Leaders, coaches, teachers, managers, must inspire optimism, teach seeing the glass half full and strive to fill it more and more.

Luca Banchi leadership style

Luca Banchi, basketball coach, led Latvia to a fifth-place finish in the world championship and now recently coaches Virtus and is achieving great results.

The key to his success can be seen in this sentence that expresses a fundamental concept of a coach’s leadership: “I traveled to Latvia, we met in my room and I ordered the meal delivery. I talked to players, coaches and managers, generally anyone who could help me get into their mindset, understand their vision and needs.”

I would say the opposite of what the coach of the women’s national volleyball team, Davide Mazzanti, and the new coach of Napoli, Rudi Garcia, have done. They follow the principle that it is the others, the players and players, who have to adapt to their ideas, to the exclusion of those who do not accept this system.

In memory of Gianni Vattimo

Peak performance in ultramarathon is of the over40

Nikolaidis PT, Knechtle B. Performance in 100-km Ultramarathoners-At Which Age, It Reaches Its Peak? J Strength Cond Res. 2020 May;34(5):1409-1415.

The age of peak performance was 40-44 years in women and 45-49 years in men when all finishers were analyzed, whereas it was 30-34 years in women and 35-39 years in men when the top 10 finishers were considered in 5-year age groups. When we analyzed finishers in 1-year age groups, we found the age of peak performance at 41 years in women and 45 years in men considering all finishers, and at 39 years in women and 41 years in men considering the top 10 finishers. In conclusion, the age of peak performance was younger in women than in men, which might reflect the overall younger age of women participants than men. Compared with previous studies, we observed the peak performance at an age older by ∼10 years, which could be attributed to an increase of finishers’ age across calendar years. Because the knowledge of the age of peak performance is unique for each sport, coaches and fitness trainers might benefit from the findings of this study in the long-term training of their athletes.

Knechtle B, Valeri F, Zingg MA, Rosemann T, Rüst CA. What is the age for the fastest ultra-marathon performance in time-limited races from 6 h to 10 days? Age (Dordr). 2014;36(5):9715.

Recent findings suggested that the age of peak ultra-marathon performance seemed to increase with increasing race distance. The present study investigated the age of peak ultra-marathon performance for runners competing in time-limited ultra-marathons held from 6 to 240 h (i.e. 10 days) during 1975-2013. Age and running performance in 20,238 (21%) female and 76,888 (79%) male finishes (6,863 women and 24,725 men, 22 and 78%, respectively) were analysed using mixed-effects regression analyses. The annual number of finishes increased for both women and men in all races. About one half of the finishers completed at least one race and the other half completed more than one race. Most of the finishes were achieved in the fourth decade of life. The age of the best ultra-marathon performance increased with increasing race duration, also when only one or at least five successful finishes were considered. The lowest age of peak ultra-marathon performance was in 6 h (33.7 years, 95% CI 32.5-34.9 years) and the highest in 48 h (46.8 years, 95% CI 46.1-47.5). With increasing number of finishes, the athletes improved performance. Across years, performance decreased, the age of peak performance increased, and the age of peak ultra-marathon performance increased with increasing number of finishes. In summary, the age of peak ultra-marathon performance increased and performance decreased in time-limited ultra-marathons. The age of peak ultra-marathon performance increased with increasing race duration and with increasing number of finishes. These athletes improved race performance with increasing number of finishes.

2500 years ago moving was already a fundamental value

Junior performances do not predicts the future results

Gulch, A., Barth, M., McNamara, B., Hambrick, D. (2023). Quantifying the Extent to Which Successful Juniors and Successful Seniors are Two Disparate Populations: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Findings. Sports Med, 53(6): 1201–1217.

This study aimed to establish more robust and generalizable findings via a systematic review and synthesis of findings. We considered three competition levels—competing at a national championship level, competing at an international championship level, and winning international medals—and addressed three questions: (1) How many junior athletes reach an equivalent competition level when they are senior athletes? (2) How many senior athletes reached an equivalent competition level when they were junior athletes? The answers to these questions provide an answer to Question (3): To what extent are successful juniors and successful seniors one identical population or two disparate populations?


We conducted a systematic literature search in SPORTDiscus, ERIC, ProQuest, PsychInfo, PubMed, Scopus, WorldCat, and Google Scholar until 15 March 2022. Percentages of juniors who achieved an equivalent competition level at senior age (prospective studies) and of senior athletes who had achieved an equivalent competition level at junior age (retrospective studies) were aggregated across studies to establish these percentages for all athletes, separately for prospective and retrospective studies, junior age categories, and competition levels. Quality of evidence was evaluated using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) version for descriptive quantitative studies.


Prospective studies included 110 samples with 38,383 junior athletes. Retrospective studies included 79 samples with 22,961 senior athletes. The following findings emerged: (1) Few elite juniors later achieved an equivalent competition level at senior age, and few elite seniors had previously achieved an equivalent competition level at junior age. For example, 89.2% of international-level U17/18 juniors failed to reach international level as seniors and 82.0% of international-level seniors had not reached international level as U17/18 juniors. (2) Successful juniors and successful seniors are largely two disparate populations. For example, international-level U17/18 juniors and international-level seniors were 7.2% identical and 92.8% disparate. (3) Percentages of athletes achieving equivalent junior and senior competition levels were the smallest among the highest competition levels and the youngest junior age categories. (4) The quality of evidence was generally high.


The findings question the tenets of traditional theories of giftedness and expertise as well as current practices of talent selection and talent promotion.

Losing because the team was not relaxed

A few days during the finals of the European volleyball championships, Italian coach Ferdinando De Giorgi during a timeout uttered a word that has been rarely heard in sports in recent years. The term is relaxed, he wanted the players to be calmer, less rushed and inaccurate.

Personally, I am very attached to this which is not just a word but expresses a concept and I would say a way of life. I learned relaxation techniques when I was 21 years old and have never abandoned this approach that accompanies me in my daily life. I have studied for years the importance of the balance between incitement and calm in work and leisure, in training and competition.

Our society has evolved toward an aggressive performance pattern, one must always push, play on the attack, dare, happily experience stresses. This is the phase of incitement and responds to the philosophy that stress is a privilege but are we sure that the other pole of the issue, calmness, is also given the same attention? From my experience I have come to the conclusion that calmness is most often interpreted only as a condition to be pursued because one cannot only and always squeeze like a lemon otherwise the body will break down. So calmness is seen not as the other pole of the human condition but as an expression of a limit to which one must submit.

For these reasons, a coach who during a European final that his team is losing says: relax, belongs to another planet. One in which relaxed and calm are positive and indispensable skills and not limits to which one must be subjected.

What’s the use of studying?

I still remember the question the philosophy teacher asked on the first day of high school, “What’s the use of studying? Who can answer that?” Someone dared polite answers, “to grow well,” “to become good people.” But the unsatisfied professor shook his head. Until finally he said, “It’s for escaping from prison.”

We looked at each other in amazement. “Ignorance is a prison. Because in there you don’t understand and you don’t know what to do. We have to organize the biggest jailbreak of the century. It will not be easy, they want you stupid, but if you climb over the wall of ignorance then you will understand without having to ask for help. And it will be hard to fool you. Who’s in?”

I was reminded of that indelible episode reading that only one boy in twenty understands a text. And I think of the other nineteen, who struggle to escape and risk a life sentence of ignorance. A democratic state must save them because it is right. And because the risk then is immense: weak minds demand the strong man.

Corrado Augias