Monthly Archive for February, 2024

How to improve the relationship with the athlete?

Often, coaches ask how they could improve their relationship with the athletes they coach.

My first response is always to advise them to listen to them and talk to them more. Some understand while saying they don’t have the time. I reiterate that it is better to stop the activity 10 minutes earlier to talk to them than to coach technique for 10 minutes longer.

Athletes like any other human need to share thoughts and emotions. It is not enough just to do, you also need to learn that you need to give words to what you have done in training and competition. It is not enough just to do, you also need to be able to explain it and let others know through a process of observing and evaluating yourself. Is this not part of training? Or should training mean just doing drills, like a robot doing without knowing the meaning of what it is doing and, therefore, cannot understand the meaning for itself.

Easier and less demanding for the coach is to administer exercises with the hope that what he teaches will come true, just as a doctor administers medicine to a patient.

The coach should get out of this ambiguity of wanting to lead with only a directive approach and lacking interest in building autonomy and developing the young decision-making skills.

The physical activity supports the psychopathology treatment

Ben Singh, Timothy Olds, Rachel Curtis, Dot Dumuid, Rosa Virgara, Amanda Watson,  Kimberley Szeto, Edward O’Connor, Ty Ferguson, Emily Eglitis, Aaron Miatke, Catherine EM Simpson, Carol Maher. From Alternative to Mainstay: the overwhelming evidence supporting physical activity as a treatment for anxiety and depression.

There are thousands of research trials examining the impact of physical activity for treating anxiety, depression and/or stress. Our review included a total of 97 systematic review, comprising of 1039 trials and 128 119 participants.

Taken together, results clearly show that physical activity had moderate effects on depression, anxiety and psychological distress compared with usual care across all populations. The largest benefits were seen in people with depression, HIV and kidney disease, in pregnant and postpartum women, and in healthy individuals.

Higher intensity physical activity was associated with greater improvements in symptoms. Effectiveness of physical activity interventions diminished with longer duration interventions.

The size of these benefits was comparable to, and slightly larger than, the benefits of medications and psychotherapy. There is a very large rigorous body of scientific evidence showing that physical activity is effective for improving depression and anxiety. These benefits apply across a very wide range of populations.

While all physical activity modes are effective, higher intensity physical activity is associated with greater benefit. The findings from this umbrella review underscore the significant potential for physical activity to improve mental health outcomes and support the integration of physical activity interventions in mental health treatment.

Juventus crisis

The psychological situation of Juventus may be interesting to understand, as in my opinion it demonstrates an established idea of psychology. The idea would be that when expectations are disappointed by not having achieved the result for which until recently they were striving, subsequent performances are undermined by the establishment of the thought that there is nothing more to be done.

In the absence of direct knowledge this is a hypothesis, which seems to me in any case quite probable. No longer able to fight to try to win the championship, Juventus has reverted to its usual tired way of playing, which needs to find itself in trouble to find the motivation to change.

It is curious that quality players fall into this psychological trap, created by themselves, without putting in place forms of resistance to this motivational fall. A team should not reason in this way, which lead to losing to teams obviously of lower levels, but this is of no use if the opponents are playing and they are limited to ordinary and slow management of the game.

This mental regression of the players should be countered by the coach and staff. It was seen to have lasted for at least three games after the defeat to Inter. That’s more than 270 minutes played at the least worst. How can players and team justify to themselves individually and as a collective this prolonged negative moment?It sounds to me like Al Pacino’s words as a coach in Any given Sunday when yhe tells the players, “Either we rise up as a collective or we will be annihilated individually.”

29 years from this Crujiff hilarious video

Hilarious video of when in 1995 Johan Crujiff tries to teach Hristo Stojchkov to jump rope. What a beauty.

VIDEO Stoichkov, l'ex Pallone d'oro compie 55 anni: riguarda lo sketch con  Johann Cruijff e il disastroso salto con la corda! - Mediagol"Quando

Team: diversity value

The diversity within a team is an important value for several reasons:

  1. Range of skills: A team composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and perspectives is capable of tackling a wider range of challenges. Each member can contribute with their unique skills, providing innovative solutions and differentiated perspectives.
  2. Creativity and innovation: Diversity fosters creativity and innovation. The convergence of different ideas and viewpoints can stimulate the generation of new ideas and innovative approaches to complex problems.
  3. Resilience: A diversified team is better able to adapt to changes and face adversities more effectively. Because each member brings different experiences and skills to the table, the team can find alternative solutions even in difficult situations.
  4. Representation: Diversity within a team can better reflect the diversity of society as a whole. This can promote greater acceptance and understanding of the needs and viewpoints of people from different backgrounds.
  5. Learning and personal development: Working in a diversified team offers members the opportunity to learn from each other and develop greater open-mindedness. Exposure to diverse perspectives and cultures can foster personal and professional growth.
  6. Improved decision-making: The presence of individuals with diverse perspectives can lead to a more comprehensive evaluation of available options and therefore to more informed and thoughtful decisions.
  7. Better performance: Studies have shown that diverse teams tend to achieve better results than homogeneous ones, as they can leverage each member’s abilities more effectively and address a wider variety of problems.
  8. Reduced risks of conformity: The presence of individuals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints can help prevent conformity within the team, encouraging challenge and open discussion of ideas.
  9. Enhanced reputation and talent attraction: Organizations that promote diversity and inclusion tend to have a better reputation and attract high-level talents from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

In conclusion, diversity within a team brings a series of advantages, including better decisions, improved performance, market growth, reduced risks of conformity, and enhanced reputation, making diversity a crucial value for the team’s success.

Sport is fun and moving with purpose

When asked to talk about young people who play sports, especially up to the age of 14, beyond any theoretical explanation, what I want to highlight is the importance of fun and moving with purpose.

Having fun means deriving pleasure from an activity for the way it is done, for the physical and mental energy expended, without having a specific goal to achieve or a result to obtain.

Moving with purpose, on the other hand, involves learning to play soccer, fence, or tennis while always having an idea in mind that guides the actions of the young person. This can happen in a rudimentary way if they are beginners or in a technically better way as they progress through this experience. In other words, there is no movement without thought, so learning or training means moving by mentally representing the technical execution.

A sports practice that guarantees this type of development positively stimulates the motivation to continue the effort and fosters that conviction so necessary to become experts in some activity, namely that “I improve thanks to my effort”.

Unfortunately, the goals of young people in most cases are not aimed at satisfying these two needs. Many train to learn a sport just as many compete to win. The issue is not to do well in a sport but to feel comfortable doing what you like. The goal is not to make a good move or score a point or a goal but to express one’s abilities to the fullest. In tennis, for example, many young people want to hit hard to score immediately, without the willingness to create the opportunity to end the rally with their play. In this case, they hit but do not think.

This way of doing things is the antithesis of sportsmanship.

Leadership of elite coaches

Gomes, A.R., Araújo, V., Resende, R., & Ramalho, V. (2018). Leadership of elite coaches: The relationship among philosophy, practice, and effectiveness criteria. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 13(6) 1120–1133.

Coaching philosophy is an important topic in both coaching literature and education. However, there is little research regarding the way that coaches’ philosophies translate into their practices. Additionally, there is very little information about the specific effectiveness criteria coaches use to evaluate their philosophies and practice.

This study addresses the complex set of relationships among coaches’ philosophies, perceptions of their practice, and effectiveness criteria. Ten elite coaches were selected for the study (9 males; 1 female), all of whom had successful careers in their respective sports. The coaches responded to an interview guide that addressed the topics of philosophy, practice, and effectiveness criteria.

The results indicated four main themes:

  • importance of athlete motivation
  • importance of building a relationship with athletes based on personal respect
  • presence of high levels of cohesion among the team
  • need for formal and informal rules that regulate the team’s functioning.

There were several areas in which coaches did not establish a relationship linking philosophy, practice, and effectiveness criteria. The results suggest the need to educate coaches regarding methods of establishing a relationship among their philosophies, their practices, and the effectiveness criteria they use to evaluate their performance as coaches.

The relationship between art and brain: a positive self-treatment

The study of the relationship between brain sciences and the arts was first coined “neuroaesthetics” in the late 1990s by Semir Zeki, a neuroscientist and professor at University College London. Much of the initial research focused on empirical aesthetics, examining the neural bases underlying how we perceive and judge works of art and aesthetic experiences.

Antonio Damasio, a neurologist studying the neural systems underlying emotion, decision-making, memory, language, and consciousness at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, states, “Joy or sorrow can emerge only after the brain registers physical changes in the body.” He continues, in an interview with Scientific American Mind, “The brain constantly receives signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. It then processes the signals in neural maps, which it then compiles in the so-called somatosensory centers. Feelings occur when the maps are read and it becomes apparent that emotional changes have been recorded.”

Art psychotherapist Sofie Dobbelaere agrees that going to a gallery to view art can be a powerful healing experience. “When we look at art, we connect with our humanity, and therefore are pulled into dialogue with something outside of ourselves, and this can help us feel connected and like we are part of something important.”

The fast-paced culture of instant gratification often leads us to consume works of art in the same time frame as reading an email. However, art sometimes demands that we spend more time observing a painting or installation. Experts suggest “slow looking,” savoring a work of art, spending time for several minutes or even visiting a museum just to contemplate a single piece. Galleries are full of amazing works, but observing just one on a deeper level can be incredibly meaningful.

Susan Magsamen highlights that 95% of adults in the UK agree that visiting museums and galleries is beneficial, but 40% visit them less than once a year. The winter months are the perfect time to visit exhibitions and take care of oneself with this form of psychological self-treatment.

The complexieties to work with professional teams

About – International Society of Sport Psychology

DATE: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024 Speakers: Dr. Gloria Balague Length of Session: 90 minutes (60-minute lecture, 30-minute Q&A) Language: English (Live captioning in English and other languages) Time: 12:00 UTC

(New York 8:00, Belo Horizonte, 9:00, London 13:00; Beijing 20:00, Taipei, 20:00, Seoul 21:00) Where: Zoom (Link sent upon registration)

Program Overview 

In this presentation, Dr. Balague will outline the essentials of providing sport psychology services to professional athletes, teams, and organizations. She will discuss how to gain entrance in these organizations and how to engage with the different stakeholders, such as management, coaches, medical staff, sport scientists, and athletes. Dr. Balague will highlight the importance of understanding coaches’ areas of interests/concerns and communication and coaching styles, and team strategies, as well as the value of building effective relationships with medical and sports science personnel, scouts, and equipment staff. Furthermore, Dr. Balague will delve into the core of her work with players and athletes, spanning from educational efforts to targeted interventions. Dr. Balague will share her expertise on the critical need to grasp the unique demands placed on athletes, their interactions with coaches, and their roles within the team. Dr. Balague will wrap up the presentation with a discussion around the organizational challenges and considerations associated with delivering sport psychology services in professional sport organizations, offering attendees a deep dive into the intricacies of successfully navigating this specialized area of work.

About our speaker 

Dr.Gloria Balague is a native of Barcelona, Spain. She is a Clinical Associate Professor Emerita in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has worked extensively with USA Track & Field, USA Gymnastics and USA Field Hockey. Dr. Balague was at the 92 and 96 Olympics as sport psychologist. She has been the sport psychologist for the Chicago Bears from 2015-2020, and for the USA Rhythmic Gymnastics program from 2016 to 2023. 10 years ago, she joined Don Hellison in starting the TPSR Alliance ( a group aiming at using sport and physical activity as a tool to promote personal and social responsibility in youth. Dr. Balague was the first President of the Catalan Association of Sport Psychology, Past-President of Division 47 (Sport and Exercise Psychology) of the APA, and also of Division 12 (Sport Psychology) of the International Association of Applied Psychology, and in 2016 received the Outstanding Professional Practice Award from the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. Dr. Balague has imparted doctoral level courses in Sport Psychology in Spain, Argentina and Chile and advised doctoral dissertations in several countries.

Program Format Attendees can participate in an ISSP Master Class session right from their office or home. Registrants will be provided the Zoom link upon registration to access the presentation right on the web in real time. If you are unable to watch the session live, a recording will be provided afterward to all registrants.



Malgioglio story with the brain-damaged children

If you have five minutes, read this article to the end. To know true greatness. (by PierLuigi Pinna on X, @pierpi13)

Astutillo Malgioglio, known to friends as Tito, was the backup goalkeeper for Inter under Trapattoni, the team of the record-breaking league title. In 1987, I went to interview him for Il Giorno, the newspaper I was working for at the time, in Piacenza. I had heard that Malgioglio, then 29 years old, had opened a gym near his home for the motor rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy. He named the facility ERA 77 (acronym for Elena, the name of his daughter born in 1977, Raffaella, his wife, and Astutillo) and, aided by his wife, provided this service for free, dedicating all his spare time to it.

I won an award in Como for this interview, presented to me by Pierluigi Marzorati, the basketball champion of Pallacanestro Cantù, which I immediately donated to UNICEF. Malgioglio told me beautiful and ugly things. True things.

He told me he had been doing all this for 7-8 years but quietly, almost incognito: because it wasn’t considered good, given the state of affairs in the world of football, for a professional footballer to be distracted with thoughts (or activities) deemed useless or bizarre, such as helping others. Unless one encountered two people like Nils Liedholm and Sven Goran Eriksson, as happened to Tito during his two years at Roma from ’83 to ’85, who convinced Dino Viola to make the Trigoria gym available to Malgioglio in his spare time, allowing him to do in Rome what he had started doing in Piacenza.

He told me that the Players’ Association, through its newspaper, had opened a subscription among all its members (the over one thousand players of Serie A, Serie B, Serie C1, and Serie C2) to raise funds for Tito’s activities, and in the end, the proceeds amounted to 700 thousand lire, which the AIC (Italian Footballers’ Association) somewhat embarrassedly arranged to give to him.

Above all, he told me that one day at the Pinetina training ground, Jurgen Klinsmann approached him and asked why, after training sessions, he always saw him rushing off to Piacenza so quickly. Tito explained why, and Klinsmann said to him: “Tomorrow I’ll come with you, I want to see with my own eyes what you do.” Klinsmann kept his promise. He got into Malgioglio’s beaten-up Beetle, went with him to Piacenza, and spent the entire afternoon watching Tito assist the children with cerebral palsy.

Then, before getting back into the Beetle to be driven back to Milan, he took out his checkbook and without saying a word wrote 70 million lire (seventy million), handed the check to his companion. He had tears in his eyes. Like those of Malgioglio”. [Paolo Ziliani da Il Fatto Quotidiano]