Archive for the 'Calcio' Category

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Which is the mind side of the warm up?

In relation to warming up, I would like to take up what Jurgen Weineck said in his book “The optimal training” because it is a text known to all coaches (psychologists should study it). In fact, it clearly illustrates the physical and also mental role of this phase of training. It thus highlights how important it is to teach young athletes to use this phase of training in the right way and not simply as boring exercises to be carried out to avoid injury.

“Warm-up means all the measures that, before a sporting load – whether for training or competition – useful both to create a state of optimal coordination of psychophysical and kinesthetic preparation and to prevent accidents.

“In active warming up, the athlete practically performs the exercises or movements, while in mental warming he only represents them… If it is used alone … mental training is of little use, because it only partially sets in motion, and often with little intensity, the adaptation processes characteristic of warm-up. However, in some sports (e.g. artistic gymnastics and athletic) it is very effective when combined with other warm-upmethods” (p. 547).

“As can be seen from various works there are interrelationships between warming up, motivation and the psychic attitude towards the activity itself. Thus, on the one hand, a high degree of motivation and a strongly performance-oriented attitude can strengthen the effectiveness of warming – among other things, thanks to the psychic parameters of the pre-event state that prepares the body for a high performance – while, on the other hand, a negative attitude towards it reduces or totally eliminates the benefits … warming up, starting from an initial “neutral” situation, serves to form a psychic state of readiness to perform, evokes an optimal state of excitement of the nervous system, thus improving the attitude towards sports performance and concentration on it” (p.551).

In preparation for the competition, the warm-up phase represents an opportunity to mentally prepare yourself at the start of the race, giving you the time to focus on the tasks to perform at the best. It is recognized that many top athletes complete some form of mental preparation before the competition. Typical strategies include:

  • visualization of performance
  • repetition of keywords
  • search for optimal activation through physical and technical exercises
  • speed and accuracy




Mistakes coming from a poor awareness coaching

If your athletes commit any of these mistakes, it means that you have not taught them to give value at their commitment in training:

  1. When you ask them to take a deep breath, they snort or sigh
  2. Without no reason they modify times and ways of the warm-up
  3. They say: “But I thought I was ready while …”
  4. They get angry or easily disappointed even in training
  5. In training they have result outcomes  and less frequently process outcomes.
  6. They are focused on the results of their performance and not on how to perform effectively
  7. They are only partially aware that it is how you prepare yourself that determines the quality of the performance
  8. They think: “I have the technique therefor I know how to compete
  9. They are deluding themselves to do well only because they have done it before and they are not aware that every time it is different and the commitment must be consistent
  10. Usually from their favorite champs they take only the most superficial and most glamorous behaviors

The taboo toward psychology still exists in soccer

About the crisis of their best player, the team’s coach said that “we are working together with the player and the team’s psychological staff to solve the problem as soon as possible and to see him finally play on the field as he knows how.

I think we will never hear such statements in soccer. This is because the real taboo that resists in relation to evaluating the psychological aspects of any player is to consider them according to a positive/negative logic. Either things are good or there are problems. The very word “problem” associated with another “psychological” immediately reminds one of something that must be hidden, a fault to be ashamed of and which then publicly must be called something else so as not to stigmatize the young person as one who has a “psychological problem.”

That is why then the “problems” shown on the field by Vlahovic, Leao, Donnarumma, and so many others who are not mentioned in the media because they are not famous are explained in terms of playing problems, the desire to overdo it, contract-related problems, difficulties in recovering after an injury or finding the match rhythm again. What is not said is that these situations just listed are the footballer’s way of showing his current psychological limitations. If one replaces the word “problem” with “current limit” it becomes more obvious that talking about psychological limits is analogous to talking about physical or technical-tactical limits and that through training it will be possible to reduce these limits.

Thus, by bringing the issue back to typical difficulties of those who do a job, that of a footballer, in which one should always be ready, knowing of course that this is not possible, it becomes easier to accept that psychological limitations demonstrated at certain times during the sporting season are part of a footballer’s life, they should therefore not be hidden, they are like a muscle contracture or a wrong pass. When they occur, the club must be equipped as with any other eventuality to treat the player, through experts in sports psychology, with the aim of reducing or eliminating this difficulty.

Instead, we are still stuck thinking that the support of teammates and fans and chats with the coach are enough. Certainly they are important, but no one would think of solving an injury with a pat on the back.

Dick Fosbury, high jump legend, is died

Dick Fosbury, legendary Olympic gold high jumper who revolutionized the track and field event, died Sunday of lymphoma, according to his publicist Ray Schulte. Fosbury was 76.

“It is with a very heavy heart I have to release the news that longtime friend and client Dick Fosbury passed away peacefully in his sleep early Sunday morning after a short bout with a recurrence of lymphoma,” Schulte wrote on Instagram on Monday.

Fosbury showcased his signature technique – the popular “Fosbury Flop” – where he threw himself back first over the bar in the high jump at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Fosbury broke the Olympic and US records with a jump of 2.24 meters to earn the gold medal.

At Oregon State University, Fosbury won the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships in 1968 using the “flop.”“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Dick Fosbury, a true legend and pioneer in the world of track and field. Dick’s innovative technique of the ‘Fosbury Flop’ revolutionized the high jump event and forever changed the sport,” Max Siegel, CEO of USA Track & Field said in a statement. “His gold medal victory at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics not only cemented his place in U.S. Olympic history, but also left an indelible mark on the global athletic community. We will always be grateful for his contributions to the sport and his impact on generations of athletes who followed in his footsteps.”

“The world legend is probably used too often,” sprint great Michael Johnson tweeted. “Dick Fosbury was a true LEGEND! He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time but the result made it the standard.”


Sport is social

The opening speech of @TizianoPesce president of UISP whose congress assembly opened today:

“Sport reform must come to recognize the social value of sport, that’s why we talk about transition, we strongly believe that sport is an important vehicle.”

The beauty of this statement is that it applies to all categories of people who carry out from simple motor activity for purely personal pleasure, to those who use sport as a rehabilitative tool, to young adolescent athletes at whatever level they compete but also to professional athletes and female athletes.

Sport once again is for everyone because everyone’s well-being and mental health is a social value that concerns Messi and De Maria as much as those who are far from these absolute levels but like to go out for a walk.

On this basis, the pursuit of well-being, we are all equal and the value placed on one’s community of belonging knows no distinction.

It is a valuable asset let us it.not only defend it but spread it out.

Youngs spend few time outdoor

Often the countries of Northern Europe hit me for the simple and direct questions that arise, as well as the solutions they find. Some time ago, in Britain they have asked themselves the question: How often your children play outside? More or less than when you were a child? Have safety fears make you keep your children at home? The government cuts have reduced opportunities to play sports close to home?

So there it arises the problem of the need to increase the time that young people spend outdoors and in a natural environment because it is considered as necessary for their well-being and development of personal autonomy. Therefore it is hoped that adults are increasingly aware of this need and act accordingly.

In the same in  Italy we are still debating whether to increase the hours of physical education to school without reaching a settlement, when we enter … maybe someone will put this further question, namely that for the youngs are not given enough hours and we will have to do something more. Perhaps our grandchildren will enjoy  of this changes … those who in the meantime did not leave for another country.

Meanwhile, follow in Britain:

The specificity of the coach-athlete relationship in Italy

In Italy there is still a craftsmanship conception of high-level sport particularly true in individual sports. In most cases, the development and success of an athlete is based on a deep collaborative relationship with his/her coach. It is not uncommon that the coach is the husband of the athlete or the parent (father/mother). It’s obvious that this system is subject to all interference that are typical of the dual relationships.

The psychological components of each of these relationships have unbelievable significance, because the training is to build situations with predetermined levels of stress that the athlete must successfully deal to improve in his/her performances.

In this context, the coaches have a reduced exchange of ideas and discussion with other colleagues and the use of innovations produced by the sports science depends only on their curiosity and desire to upgrade. The limitation of this approach lies not only in the limited use of the contributions of science by the coaches but also the failure of researchers to listen and understand what are the needs and demands of the coaches.

In other words, there is need to talk together, to share ideas, to criticize each other in a constructive way and to build work plans based on collaboration.

How it’s difficult to be competitive

“To accomplish something difficult. Mastering, manipulating, or organizing physical objects, human beings, or ideas. Do it as quickly and independently as possible. Go beyond obstacles and maintain high standards. Excelling for oneself. To rival and surpass others. Increase awareness through observing one’s own successful experiences that are the result of one’s talents.”

H.A. Murray said in 1938.

I dedicate these words to the young athletes in Italy who in team sports play little because of foreigners.

In individual sports certainly they can compete, since no one can take away their team place, sometimes they train alone or alone, at best with coaches and trainers equally willing but alone too.

Best wishes and may your persistence and dedication always be your friend.

Emotional coaching for young people

Simeone, manager of Atletico Madrid, said that “you can win by losing if you give it your all.” It is a key concept in the development of an athlete and should be taught from the very first day a boy or girl enters a playing field. On the contrary, we see young people who as soon as they make a mistake become angry with themselves or depressed. We know that this happens because of the conjunction of different reasons:

parents often do not recognize the value of effort and think that it only matters to win, so they get angry at their children for their mistakes and would like to take the place of the coach to give them technical guidance,
coaches are more focused on teaching technique and do not emotionally coach athletes,
young people themselves are unable to express their emotions constructively and lack self-control.
And so we see young tennis players slamming their rackets to the ground after a mistake alternating between angry and depressed moods against themselves or in other sports made one mistake almost quickly follows others, because frustration due to the first mistake dominates in athletes. Changing this way of experiencing defeats and mistakes requires parents and coaches who are more aware that their role includes teaching self-control, working with their children and athletes to change these destructive behaviors.

One certainly does not have to impose our adult solutions to their problems. We need to listen empathetically and not to judge, so that young people feel supported and respected in their states of mind. Only after this stage should we start talking about what could be done differently, giving time for the young people to express their ideas and for us to stimulate their awareness in regard to how they act and identify possible solutions. Acting in this way takes time, and it is often for this reason that adults do not follow this path.

We need to be aware, however, that if we often refrain from intervening, young people will begin to think that their reactions do not interest their parents and coaches, and worse, they will continue to behave negatively toward themselves. If we want our young people to develop the ability to deal effectively and satisfactorily with their daily stresses, we must spend time teaching them how to behave, feel and think in those moments.

The role of the coaches

It is clear from what was written in the previous blog that a key role is played by those who lead groups in building a working climate that is helpful in sustaining motivation and providing adequate reinforcements to meet personal needs. In school, teachers who frequently exhibit controlling behaviors tend to build a controlling climate in the classroom, which reduces intrinsic motivation. It only takes a few weeks to bring about these kinds of effects, which in turn have an influence on students’ perceptions of competence. Therefore, extrinsic reinforcers can play a hindering or promoting function on intrinsic motivation depending on whether they are provided in a climate that is controlling or encouraging personal autonomy. If we want young people, including athletes, not only follow the rules proposed by their teachers but also actively integrate them into their personal belief systems, it is necessary that the environment in which they carry out their activities be oriented toward the development of personal competence and autonomy. Coaches should organize activities that solicit the interest of their athletes, reducing the frequency of those feedbacks that stimulate young people to get involved only out of duty, for the positive effects that will result or to satisfy the ambitions of the coach or parents.

Unfortunately, negative experiences in the sports community are not so uncommon. It becomes important to understand how the social and interpersonal context can foster the occurrence of these kinds of experiences. Again, self-determination theory makes it possible to explain “not only growth and well-being but equally the destructive, alienating and pathogenic effects of the need to hinder…” … In fact, deprivation of the fulfillment of basic needs for competence, autonomy and closeness to others can lead to choices that are often defensive and self-protective, fostering the onset of emotional disturbances and reduced personal well-being. This would lead to the prevalence of controlling motivation and rigid behaviors that in turn hinder the need for satisfaction, favoring the processes of extrinsic regulation (behaviors motivated by fear and rewards) and introjection (behaviors motivated by guilt and feeling obligated). Low levels of satisfaction, however, should not be confused with the athlete’s perception of feeling hindered in his or her activity. An athlete may feel dissatisfied because he or she perceives himself or herself as not competent to deliver the performance he or she expects, despite having worked hard to achieve this goal. Different is the condition of an athlete who attributes this difficulty to obstacles due to the behavior of the coach, whom he or she perceives as insufficiently oriented to make him/her improve. The former is a situation of dissatisfaction while the latter is a situation in which the athlete has been hindered in achieving the need for competence … To be dissatisfied means that something did not go as well as it should have while to hinder means to prevent something from happening. Therefore, feeling hindered consists of an emotional condition in which the person feels oppressed, inadequate, rejected or frustrated in a given context.

Top-level athletes need, like others, constructive support from their coach. A national team coach himself once told me:

“You see Alberto, he during the race, every now and then he looks for me with his eyes and I’m there to give him a nod or a gesture reminding him what to do, he then continues on his own and I see that it’s fine.”

Other athletes, however, say:

“When you need him, he’s never there, you look for him with your eyes and you see him on the phone or talking to someone….”

These two opposing experiences show how easy it is for a coach to engage in behavior that either supports the need for competence and closeness or hinders it. Top-level athletes recognize the central role of their coach, attributing to him or her not only the skills in organizing and conducting excellent workouts but equally emphasizing his or her motivational role … This constructive attitude was well described by Adrian Moorhouse when he talked about his coach:

“He believed in my potential, worked on my beliefs, helped me set goals that challenged me, encouraged and supported me, evaluated my performance, created the environment, and helped me take responsibility. The only thing he didn’t do … is swim races for me.”

(Da Alberto Cei, Fondamenti di psicologia dello sport, 2021)