Monthly Archive for October, 2023

Go beyond the teacher

When the champion fires the coach

Killing the father is not only an Oedipal temptation but, symbolically speaking, is becoming almost an Olympic discipline. Jannik Sinner has never won as much as he has since he changed technical leads. And his dioscuro Matteo Berrettini is only the latest champion to have abandoned that putative father (sometimes, as we shall see, he is also a real father) who is the coach: goodbye to Vincenzo Santopadre after thirteen full years.

Alberto Cei, a sports psychologist, tries to illustrate the complexity of the problem: “Sometimes you change coaches because you know each other too well, because repeating yourself tires or bores, it is no longer motivating. Trapattoni said it himself: after five years, athletes no longer follow you. But a new coach can also be a positive shock in a time of crisis: I think of Jacobs and Berrettini. Novelty as a necessary stimulus. Finally, do not forget that a champion may need to “kill the Buddha,” that is, go beyond the master, overcome him through his teachings. Here we are talking about absolute situations: with you I have already gone to the moon, you took me there, now how are we going to go back? Between the two of us, what more could there possibly be?”

Read the full article by Maurizio Crosetti on


Mental training: Chinese calligraphy

ISSP Master Class

Chinese calligraphy practice as a mental training method:

A science-to-practice approach

L. Zhang and Ms. X. Yue

Many empirical studies have shown that traditional mental skills training (e.g., relaxation exercises, imagery exercises, simulation exercises, attention-focusing exercises, biofeedback exercises, goal setting exercises, etc.) can effectively improve athletes’ mental skills and sports performance.

I personally believe that knowledge of training systems conducted in cultures other than the West is important so that we do not keep our minds closed to non-traditional treatment or ways that are well known to us. This Master Class offers us that opportunity.

Chinese calligraphy practice can not only strengthen athletes’ mental skills, but also improve athletes’ spirituality, which is a new method of mental training that combines both arts and Taoism.

In this presentation, Zhang Liwei of Beijing Sport University, who has worked with the Team China in preparation for the Summer and Winter Olympics since 2000, will introduce the characteristics of Chinese calligraphy practice and discuss how it can be used to help athletes conduct mental training through the practice of calligraphy and to achieve practical results in international competitions including Olympics through three cases.

Yue Xin, a doctoral candidate at Beijing Sport University, will report on seven experimental studies conducted by  Zhang’s team, presenting findings that calligraphy practice enhances manual stability, promotes self-control, and improves self-efficacy. Some of the findings supported the facilitating effect of calligraphy practice, while some failed to find the positive effect.

Overall, Chinese calligraphy practice is a very promising way of mental training due to its Chinese cultural characteristics and the role of both art and Taoism.

NBA proposed the Mind Health network

NBA proposed the Mind Health network includes a team of mental health & mental performance professionals working together to create a system of support. Check out the resource below for an overview of the unique & complementary services that these pros provide.

Stop and take a moment.

Sometimes that’s all you need.
One moment, to pause and take stock:
What can I do today for my mental health?
What can I do to help lift up those around me?
This resource is intended to provide an overview of the unique and complementary services that can be provided by mental health and mental performance professionals. The information contained here is not exhaustive, as individual professionals may be able to provide additional services based on training and expertise. However, Mind Health professionals can add value and help to enhance sport systems by offering services at the individual, team and organizational level.

Terry Fox, the life-changing stories

Terry Fox, the life-changing stories, was a sports enthusiast from a young age. Terry dreamed of becoming a physical education teacher. On November 12, 1976, he was involved in a car accident, resulting in a trauma to his right knee. In 1977, still experiencing pain in his knee, he sought medical attention and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, which led to the amputation of his leg, replaced by a prosthesis.

Terry didn’t let this setback bring him down, and in 1980, three years after the amputation, he embarked on a venture that would forever be etched in the history of Canada and the world. On April 12, 1980, he set out from the Atlantic coast of Canada to reach the Pacific Ocean coast on foot, with the goal of collecting one dollar from every Canadian citizen to be donated to the fight against cancer. Like in a traditional marathon, he ran 42 kilometers every day, crossing various provinces such as Quebec and Ontario.

However, Terry couldn’t complete the endeavor known as the “Marathon of Hope” because, after 143 days, on September 1, 1980, his health deteriorated. He was diagnosed with multiple lung metastases, and a few months later, he fell into a coma and passed away on June 28, 1981, just one month shy of his 23rd birthday.

The “Terry Fox Run” is a charity run held in his honor worldwide to this day, and over the years, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised over 750 million dollars for cancer research.

“Today I got up at 4 in the morning. As usual, it was tough. If I were to die right now, I would die happy because I’m doing what I love. How many people can say the same? I stepped outside, did fifteen push-ups in the middle of the road, and started running. I want to set an example that will never be forgotten.” – Terry Fox

(Fonte: @JamesLucasIT )

I'm Not a Quitter. "nobody is ever going to call me a quitter." - Quote from Terry Fox. Terry Fox Run on September 18, 2022

Chiellini: the athletes should study

“The study opens the mind, and in Los Angeles, I realized how educational a stay here can be, where study and sports play the same game” (Giorgio Chiellini). Perhaps these statements from a champion will help begin to change the mindset that an athlete cannot dedicate time to studying.

In our country, the situation is serious because there are families who are unaware of the harm it causes their children to attend educational institutions where they study very little and promotion is a certain outcome. It is also true that the public school system often does little to understand the needs of these young individuals involved in sports. The merging of these two mindsets, that of the school and families, leads to the economic success of private schools that offer paid, facilitated pathways.

School should also be about social education, learning to live alongside others leading different lives. Missing this opportunity results in social deprivation and a reduced ability to engage with others while maintaining one’s own perspective.

If young athletes do not attend what I would call qualified schools, who will teach them how to use social media and their smartphones? Perhaps their parents if they are fortunate. Coaches certainly do not have the time to deal with these situations, and even if they did, are they themselves victims of these technologies?

Once again, football has shown us what can happen when these pathways are disrupted. However, the issue is much broader and concerns the ability to recognize and share discomfort, having people around who understand and can guide toward paths of change.

Schools and families should, therefore, be at the center of youth education, but it seems to me that teachers and parents often are not in a position to fulfill this role. So, who can help them?

The role of clubs in supporting players with personal problems

The emergence in soccer of the personal issues of some soccer players who have developed an addiction to betting, with all the negative consequences that have emerged, has highlighted the role that sports clubs together with the families of these young people should play.

Research in the area of group cohesion can make a significant contribution to this effort to direct choices and actions that would be useful in combating this issue, which is so devastating for young people who fall into this trap.

The following are some strategies that could be undertaken should one want to move away from the generic “we will do everything to be close to the boy.”

  1. emphasize the importance of individual pride and the uniqueness of personal contribution;
  2. improve everyone’s sense of responsibility to the team and vice versa;
  3. increase group interactions, commitment to the task and level of cohesion;
  4. make activities engaging, giving athletes reinforcement to work together, so team pride and identity can be developed;
  5. increase the identifiability of individual performance as part of the team process;
  6. divide the team into small units;
  7. employ a systematic goal setting program, setting specific individual and collective goals and providing regular feedback on their achievement;
  8. conducting collective meetings and individual meetings to understand and resolve any motivational lapses and personal issues. Direct and supportive interpersonal relationships can serve to boost motivation and understand the reasons why some athletes do not maintain the same level of commitment over time;
  9. give everyone a specific role, identifiable by all and perceived in positive terms and necessary for both the individual and the group;
  10. allow athletes to express themselves creatively and feel supported in their ability to take risks.

9th year of the “Football Together” – Project for young with intellectual disability

The 9th year of the “Football Together” project has begun. It is a complex project aimed at young people with intellectual disabilities, with special reference to young people with autism. It is a long time in which many of the participants have gone from being teenagers with autism to young adults.

It is a project of AS Roma in collaboration with the Accademia di Calcio Integrato, which aims to promote an innovative methodology of soccer training among these young people, starting from the age of school soccer 6-12 years old to more game-centered activity in the later ages from 13 years old and beyond.

474 youth have been involved in last 8 years - Each year the number of youth with intellectual disabilities has increased. Initially the project covered the soccer school age groups, going forward it was enriched by the upper age group we called “Cub Scouts Grow Up,” which now includes youth who have reached the age of majority.

80 young people with autism are involved in the 2022-23 activity - Currently the young people are divided into three groups according to age and their motor and psychological skills. The group composed of youth with a severe level of autism are each followed by a single professional (instructor or psychologist). The group of younger youth (6-9) years old and with an average level of functioning carry out group activities and ball games. The group of adolescents over14 of medium to high functioning follow a soccer training program and play soccer games5 among themselves, in an integrated way with players from the AS Roma soccer school and participate in events organized by other clubs or FIGC.

30 were the young people with autism in the first year - Calcio Insieme began in September 2015 with the collaboration of some schools in Rome that promoted among the families of pupils with intellectual disabilities the knowledge of this initiative, organized informational meetings with the staff of Calcio Insieme to begin to build a Community on the territory in which school, family, sports promoters, and staff could feel part of a common project at the center of which are children with intellectual disabilities and in particular those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

28 were the hours of staff training- In 2015 the staff participated before the start of the activity in a 28-hour Training Course by “Football Together” that had experts in the various fields of intellectual disability as lecturers and speeches by parents, school workers, and sports clubs. At the beginning of each year the staff is involved in a refresher training.

24 are the professionals - The staff consists of 10 soccer instructors, 6 sports psychologists, 1logopedist, 3 doctors, 1 school and parent relations manager,1 technical area manager, 1 scientific manager and 1 institutional relations manager.

20 are the schools involved - The young people with intellectual disabilities involved come from 20 schools in the Roman area. A collaborative relationship has been established with each of these schools through the principal, support teacher and families.

9 are the videos to talk about Football Together - 6 short educational videos each lasting a few minutes were made, funded by the presidency of the Lazio Region. 3 more videos were made to present the activity carried out and the results achieved.

8 scientific contributions published - 4 are the scientific articles published in international journals. A special issue of the journal “Movement” and an article in the journal of the School of Sport were published. During Covid the activity carried out online with these young people produced a technical book of exercises to be done at home. The activity was presented at the national convention of the Italian Dyspraxia Society, at a seminar held at the Institute of Neuropsychiatry at Sapienza University in Rome, and is an integral part of the Level IV Course for Coaches organized by the School of Sport in Rome.

3 the summer camps - Summer camps were implemented to: respond to the needs expressed by families with children with intellectual disabilities, offering weeks of summer camp, free of charge; create a model of summer camp and typical day, based on movement, declined in the different playful-motor and sports expressions; constitute a concrete model of integration thanks to the presence at the summer camp also of siblings or classmates, their peers with typical development. Each week of camp was spread over 5 days for a total of 25 hours per week.

3 young people served as assistant instructors - These young people are 18 years old and have been with us for a number of years, their passion for soccer is well-rounded. They served as assistant instructors during summer camp weeks. In the future they could put their acquired sports skills to use and make sports their career field, but their intellectual disability is an obstacle. The goal is to break down this obstacle and build an educational pathway to make soccer accessible to these girls and boys also as a possible career field.

2 are the areas investigated: motor-sportive and psycho-social - Different motor-sportive tests were proposed and experimented with before arriving at the final one that uses a 5-level behavioral description of basic motor skills, repeated twice a year, at the beginning of the educational journey and at its end. During interviews with parents, they were asked to fill out behavior fact sheets at the beginning and end of the year to assess their perception of improvement on the psychological and social areas investigated. Similar psychological assessments were conducted by the psychologists of these young people, also examining in the more serious youth the duration of their active engagement during each training session.