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4 lessons life from Roger Federer

A lesson for all the athletes who want excel in their career!

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10 good reasons to take a deep breath

10 good reasons to learn to take a deep breath

  1. improves self-control in stress situations
  2. improves the management of physical and mental fatigue
  3. first action to take when you want to relax
  4. precedes the visualization of a technical or competition action
  5. reduces the mental tension and stimulates effective thoughts
  6. promotes muscle stretching during this phase of training
  7. reduces impulsive verbal responses
  8. facilitates immediate recovery after a high intensity exercise
  9. further deepens the focus on the task
  10. reduces pre-race or competitive activation if it’s the case

The warm-up is for the body and mind

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).

Courses to understand the athlete development

Long Term Athlete Development promotes sport professional culture and science in sport experts (coach, psychologist, physician, manager).

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Italy continues to be a sedentary country

The sport for all in Italy is now considered to be like the air for the prisoners, toreduce a bit the frustrations that plague us. So at school there are no more than two hours a week and the physical education teacher is the least considered in the class councils. Fortunately, there are parents who are willing to pay to ensure that their children are engaged in a club sport. Not to mention the adult to whom it has never been no policy to introduce them to an active approach to physical activity. It’s an old and repetitive speech that has returned to the fore at the conference organized by the Italian Olympic Committee and Istat on the theme “Sport in Italy – Numbers and Context 2014.”  It  was found that the sedentaries are more than 24 million, or nearly 42 % of Italians. Percentage who is an Everest to the South, 56.2%, while in the North down to 31.7% and Centre to 41%. To understand the dramatic nature of these data, I just remember that in Europe, the countries with higher practitioners, according to the Eurobarometer survey on sport and physical activity, are those of Northern Europe: Sweden, where 70% of people say to do gymnastics or sports at least once a week, they are just over Denmark (68%) and Finland (66%) followed by the Netherlands (58%) and Luxembourg (54%).

More than a quarter of European citizens don’t practice any king of physical exercise outside working hours. In Italy, this figure rises to 43%. The latest Eurostat statistics reveal this. According to this dataset, 28% of Europeans in 2017 did not do any kind of exercise in their free time.

Ranked bar chart of share of population who exercise outside work, 2017

Negative side of the list, there are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cipro, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Italy and Hungary. Even if the sport as a physically active lifestyle, it’s not part of the Italian political agenda, however, we must move from mere complaint to concrete proposals. I refer to some among those made in the USA from 50 scientific associations:

  • Public education programs to ensure that all Americans understand the benefits of healthy lifestyles and how to take advantage of the range of options open to them;
  • Professional education so that health professionals consider physical activity a vital sign like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to be monitored and tracked regularly;
  • Electronic Medical Records that include fields for physical activity. As health provider systems convert to EMRs, they can easily begin to track exercise as a vital sign;
  • Medical school curricula that give all physicians an adequate grounding in how to counsel patients on healthy lifestyles, and
  • Increased opportunities for underserved populations to enjoy exercise and physical activity, by addressing disparities in the built environment, access to equipment and other barriers.

The main topics of the next blog

After the summer break in writing to regenerate ideas, these are the main themes that I would like to present in the next blogs.

  1. Long-career athletes, how to continue to manage the stress of the need to win
  2. Reduce your psychological and daily life needs to the minimum necessary
  3. Call it what you want, meditation, mindfulness or concentration but train your mind daily
  4. Understand that warm-up is an opportunity for mental training
  5. The team atmosphere is decisive for providing exceptional performance
  6. Every single exercise is an expression of the physical, mental and technical condition of the athlete.
  7. Learning psychological techniques is only a small part of mental training
  8. “I do it because I like it” is the basis of every workout
  9. You must learn to accept stress and fatigue as you accept the seasons
  10. Convincing yourself that you have to do mistakes to be able to improve

Copenhagen Consensus statement 2019: physical activity and ageing

Bangsbo J, Blackwell J, Boraxbekk C, et al Copenhagen Consensus statement 2019: physical activity and ageing. Br J Sports Med Published Online First: 21 February 2019.
Abstract

From 19th to 22nd November 2018, 26 researchers representing nine countries and a variety of academic disciplines met in Snekkersten, Denmark, to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity and older adults. It was recognised that the term ‘older adults’ represents a highly heterogeneous population. It encompasses those that remain highly active and healthy throughout the life-course with a high intrinsic capacity to the very old and frail with low intrinsic capacity.

The consensus is drawn from a wide range of research methodologies within epidemiology, medicine, physiology, neuroscience, psychology and sociology, recognising the strength and limitations of each of the methods. Much of the evidence presented in the statements is based on longitudinal associations from observational and randomised controlled intervention studies, as well as quantitative and qualitative social studies in relatively healthy community-dwelling older adults.Nevertheless, we also considered research with frail older adults and those with age-associated neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and in a few cases molecular and cellular outcome measures from animal studies.

The consensus statements distinguish between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is used as an umbrella term that includes both structured and unstructured forms of leisure, transport, domestic and work-related activities. Physical activity entails body movement that increases energy expenditure relative to rest, and is often characterised in terms of intensity from light, to moderate to vigorous. Exercise is defined as a subset of structured physical activities that are more specifically designed to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, cognitive function, flexibility balance, strength and/or power.

This statement presents the consensus on the effects of physical activity on older adults’ fitness, health, cognitive functioning, functional capacity, engagement, motivation, psychological well-being and social inclusion. It also covers the consensus on physical activity implementation strategies. While it is recognised that adverse events can occur during exercise, the risk can be minimised by carefully choosing the type of activity undertaken and by consultation with the individual’s physician when warranted, for example, when the individual is frail, has a number of co-morbidities, or has exercise-related symptoms, such as chest pain, heart arrhythmia or dizziness.

The consensus was obtained through an iterative process that began with the presentation of the state-of-the-science in each domain, followed by group and plenary discussions. Ultimately, the participants reached agreement on the 30-item consensus statements.

Book review: Handbook of Embodied Cognition and Sport Psychology

Handbook of Embodied Cognition and Sport Psychology 

Massimiliano L. Cappuccio (Ed.)

Cambridge, MIT Press, 2018

This landmark work is the first systematic collaboration between cognitive scientists and sports psychologists that considers the mind–body relationship from the perspective of athletic skill and sports practice. With twenty-six chapters by leading researchers, the book connects and integrates findings from fields that range from philosophy of mind to sociology of sports.

The chapters show not only that sports can tell scientists how the human mind works but also that the scientific study of the human mind can help athletes succeed. Sports psychology research has always focused on the themes, notions, and models of embodied cognition; embodied cognition, in turn, has found striking confirmation of its theoretical claims in the psychological accounts of sports performance and athletic skill. Athletic skill is a legitimate form of intelligence, involving cognitive faculties no less sophisticated and complex than those required by mathematical problem solving.

After presenting the key concepts necessary for applying embodied cognition to sports psychology, the book discusses skill disruption (the tendency to “choke” under pressure); sensorimotor skill acquisition and how training correlates to the development of cognitive faculties; the intersubjective and social dimension of sports skills, seen in team sports; sports practice in cultural and societal contexts; the notion of “affordance” and its significance for ecological psychology and embodied cognition theory; and the mind’s predictive capabilities, which enable anticipation, creativity, improvisation, and imagination in sports performance.

Contributors
Ana Maria Abreu, Kenneth Aggerholm, Salvatore Maria Aglioti, Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza, Duarte Araújo, Jürgen Beckmann, Kath Bicknell, Geoffrey P. Bingham, Jens E. Birch, Gunnar Breivik, Noel E. Brick, Massimiliano L. Cappuccio, Thomas H. Carr, Alberto Cei, Anthony Chemero, Wayne Christensen, Lincoln J. Colling, Cassie Comley, Keith Davids, Matt Dicks, Caren Diehl, Karl Erickson, Anna Esposito, Pedro Tiago Esteves, Mirko Farina, Giolo Fele, Denis Francesconi, Shaun Gallagher, Gowrishankar Ganesh, Raúl Sánchez-García, Rob Gray, Denise M. Hill, Daniel D. Hutto, Tsuyoshi Ikegami, Geir Jordet, Adam Kiefer, Michael Kirchhoff, Kevin Krein, Kenneth Liberman, Tadhg E. MacIntyre, Nelson Mauro Maldonato, David L. Mann, Richard S. W. Masters, Patrick McGivern, Doris McIlwain, Michele Merritt, Christopher Mesagno, Vegard Fusche Moe, Barbara Gail Montero, Aidan P. Moran, David Moreau, Hiroki Nakamoto, Alberto Oliverio, David Papineau, Gert-Jan Pepping, Miriam Reiner, Ian Renshaw, Michael A. Riley, Zuzanna Rucinska, Lawrence Shapiro, Paula Silva, Shannon Spaulding, John Sutton, Phillip D. Tomporowski, John Toner, Andrew D. Wilson, Audrey Yap, Qin Zhu, Christopher Madan.

Best mindset = More successes

G Sathiyan, top tennis table player, India, the rise of the new winning mindset

“Tragedy struck in November, 2015. While his game was flourishing, albeit at a slow pace, Sathiyan’s father left for the heavenly abode after losing his fight with cancer. His world came crashing down. His entire family was devastated. “The main thought that came in my mind was how could someone who led his life in such a disciplined manner (no smoking and drinking) be taken away under such cruel circumstances.”

Then started his paradigm shift. His gameplay involved ca­lculative moves and playing it sa­fe. In life also, he was averse to ch­ange and always adopted a safet­y-first approach, something he le­a­rnt from his father. But not any more.
“There was a total mindset change, not only towards my game but also in my daily life. I started taking more risks. My father’s death changed me as a person. I was always worried about the future. I was a person who was always calculative: what is going to come next, and if I do this, what will happen next.
“But I felt like when there’s no guarantee as to what’s going to happen tomorrow, what’s the point in calculating so much? If there is no guarantee for life, where is the guarantee for what is going to happen in sport?”
The diminutive paddler’s new nothing-to-lose attitude started pa­ying immediate dividends. He became the second Indian to win a ITTF World Tour event after annexing the 2016 Belgium Open.

Singapore Team, table tennis, the rise of a new winning mindset

It was an epic moment in the history of table tennis, the day when underdogs Singapore toppled mighty China to win the women’s team crown at the 2010 World Championships. It was almost unfathomable. How could Singapore, a tiny nation of five million people, upset China, the giants ofworld table tennis with its population of 1.35 billion?

“A lot of times, when we met them in the finals we lost 3-0, 3-1, but we kepttelling the Singapore players that one day we would beat them …. So, during the training, we kept drilling this into them – to have this mindset that we’re able to beat them …Tianwei was trailing in the first match but she was fighting for every point … when she won the match, it really gave a lot of confidence to Yuegu going into the second match.She had never beaten that China girl before … but suddenly they felt that the past doesn’t count, that although we have lost so many, many matches, it’s like a fresh start.”

Book Review: La nostra casa è in fiamme

La nostra casa è in fiamme

Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Beata Ernman e Malena Ernman

Milano, Mondadori, pp.233, 2019

 

“Risolvere la crisi climatica è la sfida più grande e complessa che l’Homo Sapiens abbia mai dovuto affrontare. La soluzione principale, tuttavia, è così semplice che persino un bambino è in grado di capirla. Dobbiamo bloccare le emissioni di gas serra.

O lo facciamo, o non lo facciamo.

Voi dite che nella vita non c’è solo il bianco e il nero.

Ma è una bugia. Una bugia molto pericolosa.

O evitiamo un aumento della temperatura di 1,5 gradi, oppure no.

O evitiamo di innescare una reazione a catena irreversibile che sfuggirà a qualsiasi controllo umano, oppure no.

O scegliamo di voler esistere ancora come civiltà, oppure no.

E questo è bianco o neo.

Non ci sono zone grigie quando si parla di sopravvivenza.

Dobbiamo compiere una scelta.

Possiamo avviare un’azione trasformatrice che salvaguardi le condizioni di vita delle generazioni future.

Oppure possiamo continuare a fare quello che abbiamo sempre fatto, e fallire.

La decisione spetta a voi, a me”(p.13-14).

Greta Thunberg ha parlato in questo modo ai grandi del mondo, a Davos nel gennaio 2019, convinta che “nessuno è troppo piccolo per fare la differenza”. Esprime con altrettanto chiarezza cosa si aspetta dagli adulti:

“Gli adulti continuano a dire: Dobbiamo dare speranza ai giovani.

Ma io non voglio la vostra speranza.

Non voglio che siate ottimisti.

Voglio che siate in preda al panico.

Voglio che proviate la paura che io provo ogni giorno.

E poi voglio che agiate.

Voglio che agiate come fareste in un’emergenza.

Voglio che agiate come se la nostra casa fosse in fiamme. Perché lo è” (p.15).

Il libro “La nostra casa è in fiamme” da cui questi brani sono presi è stato scritto dalla famiglia Thunberg, madre, padre e due figlie. Parla del dolore vissuto da questa famiglia, della scoperta dei disturbi gravi delle figlie e di come le vite di tutti abbiamo attraversato lunghi periodi di difficoltà a vivere la vita quotidiana e a trovare modi per affrontarli con azioni il cui l’effetto positivo non era certo. E’ un libro che parla nello stesso tempo di amore per la vita e di dolore e talvolta anche di rassegnazione di fronte alla continua frustrazione di trovare soluzioni accettabili per risolvere i problemi legati all’alimentazione, alla perdita costante di peso, al mutismo e alla disperazione che emergono da una quotidianità per tutti psicologicamente devastante. La scrittura è stata per la famiglia un aiuto, non avrebbero dovuto scriverlo, afferma la mamma, scrivere di quanto sono stati da schifo così come il pianeta è da schifo, però sono stati costretti a raccontare la loro vita: “Ed è ora che tutti noi cominciamo a parlare di come stiamo. Dobbiamo iniziare a dire come stanno le cose” (p.97).

Nel libro ci viene spesso ricordato che abbiamo separato la cultura dalla natura, mettendo al primo posto l’apparenza; dall’uso smodato dell’aria condizionata, alle centinaia di negozi nei centri commerciali alla distruzione dei mari, delle foreste e dei ghiacciai.

E’ un atto di accusa contro noi, adulti, che abbiamo creato una società in cui chi pensa in modo differente non trova spazio per cambiare questa mentalità distruttiva. “O vengono bullizzati o si chiudono in casa. Oppure devono andare come me in scuole speciali dove non ci sono insegnanti” (p.162).

Lo “sciopero della scuola per il clima” di una solitaria e giovanissima studentessa davanti al parlamento svedese è diventato un messaggio globale che ha coinvolto in tutta Europa centinaia di migliaia di ragazzi che seguono il suo esempio in occasione dei #Fridaysforfuture. E’ il modo per attivare i media e coloro che possono influenzare le politiche globali a prendere finalmente sul serio questo tema, che è il problema della nostra civiltà e dalla cui soluzione dipenderà il futuro della terra.

Greta ha dato inizio a una rivoluzione che sembra diffondersi sempre più tra i giovani, una battaglia da combattere per ridare un futuro alle nuove generazioni che viene sottratto al ritmo di 100 milioni di barili di petrolio consumati ogni giorno. Quello di Greta è il grido di aiuto dei giovani che vogliono convincerci a fare qualcosa per salvare il pianeta prima del raggiungimento del punto di non ritorno.