Archive for the 'Giovani' Category

Few days at the world greatest sport event

In a few days, the Paris 2024 Olympics will begin. Since the Atlanta 1996 Games, I have worked with athletes participating in the world greatest sporting event. Sometimes I have been with them, while other times, as it will be for this one, I have followed them from afar.

Working with people who strive to give their best and win an Olympic medal is a great responsibility and a great emotion. Competing in the Olympic Games is the realization of every athlete’s dream, built on long preparation that transforms their lives and gives them visibility almost unimaginable for most sports.

Working with them is a significant responsibility, as you are required to prepare them to be mentally ready when the time comes to compete. Being ready is not easy, and it is probably not easy to explain. It’s not just about having prepared in the best way, but it’s something that goes beyond the psychophysical condition achieved through months of training and competitions. Winning an Olympic medal means entering the history of world sport forever, and just this idea can take anyone’s breath away. Even athletes from sports less followed by the media and on social media, these days are interviewed and achieve much greater visibility than they are used to, for example, when competing in the world championships, which for everyone is the second most important sporting event.

At the Olympics, those who can best manage this type of stress, in addition to the competition stress, win. There are athletes and teams that fail precisely for this reason; they are not prepared for these situations, and the Olympic village itself can be a source of distraction that takes them away from focusing on themselves. Among professional athletes, many like tennis players and cyclists participate not so much because their careers might change in case of success, but they want to be there precisely for the value this event represents; they want to be remembered as part of this history.

In just a few days, everything will begin, with enthusiasm and fear. It will be a beautiful spectacle, and so, may the best win.

Managing the competitive stress of participating in the Olympics at Paris

Managing the competitive stress of participating in the Olympics is crucial for any team aiming to excel in this high-level competition. Here are some steps and strategies a team can adopt to manage stress effectively during the Paris Olympics:

Psychological Preparation

  1. Professional Psychological Support: Hire sports psychologists to work with the athletes, helping them develop stress management techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, and meditation.
  2. Mental Training Sessions: Integrate regular mental training sessions into the training routine, focusing on strategies to maintain concentration and calm under pressure.
  3. Pre-Competition Routines: Help athletes develop pre-competition routines that include relaxation techniques and activities that help them feel centered and prepared.

Physical and Logistical Support

  1. Adequate Recovery and Rest: Ensure athletes have enough time for recovery and rest between competitions, including proper sleep management and training schedules.
  2. Balanced Nutrition: Ensure athletes follow a balanced and adequate diet, supported by sports nutritionists, to maintain optimal energy levels and reduce physical stress.
  3. Injury Management: Have a medical team ready to intervene in case of injuries, providing immediate treatment and effective recovery plans.

Emotional and Social Support

  1. Positive Environment: Create a positive and supportive team environment where athletes feel appreciated and encouraged, thus reducing individual pressure.
  2. Open Communication: Foster open and honest communication between coaches and athletes, where concerns and issues can be discussed freely and addressed together.
  3. Involvement of Families: Allow, where possible, the support of families, who can offer significant emotional comfort to athletes.

Technical and Tactical Preparation

  1. Competition Simulations: Conduct simulations of competition conditions, including high-pressure scenarios, to accustom athletes to managing stress in competitive situations.
  2. Opponent Analysis: Study opponents and develop detailed tactical plans, reducing uncertainty and increasing athletes’ confidence in their abilities.
  3. Constant Feedback: Provide constructive and continuous feedback to athletes throughout the preparation process, helping them improve constantly and feel more secure.

Logistical Preparation

  1. Advance Planning: Organize every logistical aspect well in advance, including accommodations, transportation, and access to training facilities, to reduce organizational worries.
  2. Adapting to Time Zones: Arrive in Paris well ahead of time to adapt to the time zone and new environmental conditions.
  3. Minimizing Distractions: Minimize external distractions, such as interviews and promotional activities, allowing athletes to focus on their performance.

Conclusion

Managing the competitive stress of the Olympics requires a holistic approach that integrates psychological, physical, emotional, and logistical support. Through comprehensive and targeted preparation, a team can face the challenges of the Paris Olympics with greater serenity and confidence, maximizing their chances of success.

10 mental skills to win the Olympic Games

There are only a few days left until the start of the Paris 2024 Olympics. Let’s try to describe the mental characteristics demonstrated by athletes who have won a medal in previous editions.

1. Determination and Toughness

Olympians are extremely determined and do not give up in the face of difficulties. Their tenacity pushes them to continue training and improving, even when they encounter obstacles or moments of discouragement.

2. Concentration

The ability to stay focused on their goal and maintain concentration during training and competition is crucial. Olympic athletes manage to block out distractions and concentrate entirely on their performance.

3. Resilience

Resilience is the ability to quickly recover from setbacks or injuries. Successful athletes can overcome adversity, learn from their mistakes, and continue to improve.

4. Self-discipline

Athletes who win a gold medal exhibit a high level of self-discipline. This is reflected in their ability to strictly follow training programs, diets, and daily routines necessary to reach the peak of their performance.

5. Self-esteem and Self-confidence

Believing in their abilities is crucial for achieving success at such high levels. Olympic athletes have strong self-esteem and confidence in their skills, which helps them perform at their best under pressure.

6. Stress Management

The ability to manage stress and the pressure of international competitions is vital. Olympic athletes develop techniques to maintain calm and mental clarity even in the most stressful situations.

7. Intrinsic Motivation

Olympians are often driven by intrinsic motivation, a deep personal desire to excel and achieve their goals, rather than external motivations like awards or recognition.

8. Visualization Skills

Many athletes use mental visualization techniques to imagine their perfect performances. This practice helps them prepare mentally and improve their confidence in their abilities.

9. Growth Mindset

Successful athletes embrace a growth mindset, believing that their skills can be improved through hard work and continuous learning. This mindset drives them to seek new challenges and not fear failure.

10. Passion and Love for the Sport

A genuine passion and deep love for their sport are common characteristics among Olympic medalists. This passion motivates them to dedicate countless hours to practice and training.

These mental characteristics are fundamental for achieving excellence and success in the highly competitive context of the Olympics.

10 actions to build the team cohesion

10 actions that a team sports coach can implement to promote unity and cohesion within their team:

  1. Organize team-building activities: Plan days or events dedicated to activities that help team members get to know each other better and build mutual trust.
  2. Communicate clearly and transparently: Ensure that all players understand the team’s goals, expectations, and their role within the team.
  3. Promote a culture of respect: Encourage mutual respect among players, avoiding favoritism and treating everyone fairly.
  4. Create common goals: Define clear and shared goals for the team so that every member works towards the same objective.
  5. Involve all players: Ensure that every player feels like an integral part of the team, giving everyone opportunities to contribute and express themselves.
  6. Support and encourage: Offer emotional support and encouragement to players, especially during difficult times or after a defeat.
  7. Provide constructive feedback: Give honest and constructive feedback that helps players improve rather than criticizing them destructively.
  8. Promote respect for the rules: Ensure that all team members respect the rules and shared values, maintaining proper behavior both on and off the field.
  9. Organize regular meetings: Hold regular team meetings to discuss progress, issues, and solutions, encouraging everyone’s participation.
  10. Lead by example: Be a model of positive and professional behavior, demonstrating commitment, dedication, and passion for the game, so that players can be inspired by their coach.

By following these actions, a coach can create a positive and cohesive team environment where every member feels valued and motivated to give their best.

Participating in the Olympics is an extraordinary achievement

Participating in the Paris Olympics represents an extraordinary achievement for any athlete, male or female, for a number of fundamental reasons that go beyond the simple sporting context.

1. International Recognition

The Olympics are the most prestigious sports showcase in the world. Participating means gaining international recognition that transcends national borders, offering athletes the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and compete against the best in the world.

2. Historical and Symbolic Value

The Olympics are not just a sporting competition; they are a historical and cultural event celebrating unity and peace among nations. Participating in such an important event gives athletes a significant role in promoting the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, and respect.

3. Motivation and Personal Growth

Preparing for the Olympics requires years of dedication, discipline, and sacrifice. Participating in the Olympic Games is a testament to resilience and determination and represents the pinnacle of an athletic career. This experience offers significant personal growth, helping athletes develop a strong work ethic and the ability to overcome adversity.

4. Sponsorship and Career Opportunities

The visibility gained from participating in the Olympics can open many doors in terms of sponsorship and post-competitive career opportunities. Many athletes secure contracts with prestigious brands and can pursue careers as coaches, sports commentators, or entrepreneurs in the sports sector.

5. Inspiration for New Generations

Olympic athletes are role models for younger generations. Participating in the Olympics allows athletes to inspire young people to pursue their dreams, regardless of the difficulties. This inspirational role is crucial for the development of sports and the promotion of a healthy and active lifestyle.

6. Unique Life Experience

The Olympics offer a unique life experience where athletes can live in an atmosphere of camaraderie and healthy competition, meet people from different cultures, and be part of an event that transcends the boundaries of sports. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create unforgettable moments and memories that will last a lifetime.

7. Representing One’s Country

Participating in the Olympics means representing one’s country on the world stage. This is an immense honor and a great source of pride for any athlete. The responsibility of carrying the nation’s colors and competing for it is an experience that reinforces the sense of belonging and patriotism.

8. High-Level Competition Experience

The Olympics represent the highest level of sports competition. Participating allows athletes to measure themselves against the world’s best, refine their skills and strategies, and further grow as professionals. Competing against top-level opponents helps identify strengths and areas for improvement.

9. Positive Psychological Impact

Participating in an event like the Olympics can have a significant positive psychological impact. Athletes can develop greater self-esteem and confidence in their abilities by successfully facing such a major challenge. This strengthens their mental resilience, making them more prepared to face future challenges in life and their sports career.

10. Networking and Collaborations

The Olympics offer a unique platform for networking and building professional and personal relationships. Athletes can meet peers, coaches, and sports professionals from around the world, creating opportunities for future collaborations, cultural exchanges, and joint projects that can enrich their careers and personal development.

Are you tough like Girmay and Cavendish?

The two successes achieved at the Tour de France by Biniam Girmay, the first African to win a stage in the world’s most important race, and by Mark Cavendish with a record 35 victories in the same race, speak not only of their abilities but above all of their tenacity.

Tenacity is about the desire to achieve a specific goal at all costs and the commitment to do everything possible to reach it. Tenacity expresses an absolute, unmediated value; it involves taking the maximum risk without knowing if you will succeed. It is a mindset based on all or nothing. This is why only a few people practice it consistently, as not everyone is willing to face the risk of failure.

Many say that when they are in difficulty, they cannot be constructive with themselves and wait for the day when they will succeed, without knowing on what basis this should happen: “It’s not me; it’s the challenge that was too great for me.”

Girmay and Cavendish certainly did not think this way; they continued to put themselves to the test even if what they wanted to achieve had never been done before. No African had ever won a stage of the Tour de France, and no one had ever surpassed Eddy Merckx’s record of victories. They would have had an excellent excuse to give up since no one had ever succeeded.

Let us follow these examples as adults if we want to be positive role models for our boys and girls.

Thoughts for summer

We cannot leave the young alone to find the right path for themselves.

We cannot leave them prey to the many who speak to them

only to satisfy personal interests

We must train:

  1. Awareness of the need for continuous improvement.
  2. The ability to accept mistakes and defeats, experiencing them as the only opportunities that allow for improvement.
  3. The pleasure of committing to achieve their dreams.
  4. The belief that the emotional experiences felt during training and competition are a way to learn to manage themselves in the moments of greatest intensity and stress in their lives.
  5. The ability to be happy and proud of themselves.
  6. The ability to respect opponents and referees.
  7. The ability to accept difficulties as an essential part of every performance, even when one is truly well-prepared to compete.

The defeat of Italian football team

“The history is us… it is the people who make history,” sings Francesco De Gregori. This time, our team, including the coach, staff, and players, did not manage to create that blend which unites everyone, regardless of individual abilities. As Spalletti once explained to us, our players lacked legs. Every time he changed entire sections, and how can you feel united if this keeps happening in every game? The desire for redemption from the recent defeats that led to exclusion from the last two World Cups could have been the motivation on which to build this team and base the play on what each player does in their club roles. Instead, we saw lost looks, heads down, slow and never aggressive movements on the field. Wanting is not always enough, but what is asked of a team is to be convinced that anything is possible when you do your best.

What is asked of the national team coach is not so much to convey his vision of football, as he doesn’t have time to train new technical-tactical mechanisms, but to communicate enthusiasm, tenacity, and combativeness. On the field, you have to play to demonstrate something personal as individuals and as a team. Italy seemed paralyzed by the fear of making mistakes. How is it possible that this mentality wasn’t already visible in training?

I agree with what Donnarumma said, asserting that “we are not like this,” and there are many players who have played in European finals. In conclusion, Spalletti, from my point of view, got the approach to leading the team wrong, underestimating the role that psychology plays in determining those characteristics that the national team lacked. We played with fear of making mistakes, and this paralyzed our legs and minds, making losing very likely.

Gino Bartali story: a great Italian

The story is important to remember, and so two days before the start of 2024 Tour de France from Florence (June 29), the city will host a show born from the desire to tell the history and achievements of two great champions, Gino Bartali and Louison Bobet, through the eyes of two passionate cycling enthusiasts: an Italian mechanic and a French baker.

Through tales and victories, the events that took place in three Tour de France races where Bartali and Bobet competed in 1948, 1950, and 1953 are recounted. These three Tours see the progressive rise of the young Louison and the slow decline of the Tuscan climber. Against the backdrop of this narrative, historical (French and Italian) events and personal stories alternate, revealing the character and humanity of these two great champions.

“It was a pleasure for our association to be involved in the staging of this show,” comments Adriano Rigoli, president of the National Association of Houses of Memory. “Preserving the memory of great figures, such as athletes and men of the caliber of Bobet and Bartali, who was also recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for saving hundreds of Jews from Nazi extermination, is a mission that goes beyond the dynamics of our network, and we are pleased to support any initiative that goes in this direction. For this reason, I hope the show will see a great turnout, giving us once again the opportunity, even though through different languages and means from those used in the promotion of our house museums, to bring the public closer to the great figures of the past, renewing their memory and preserving it.”

“On the occasion of the start of the Tour de France from Florence, our association is promoting the show ‘Bartali vs Bobet,’” explains Marco Capaccioli, vice president of the National Association of Houses of Memory. “The Tuscan network of the Houses of Memory draws from the intangible heritage of an illustrious figure like Gino Bartali to propose, through the language of theater, the story of an athlete who has marked the history of sport and society itself.”

Role of summer camp for young with intellectual disability

Summer camps for young people with intellectual disabilities always require responsibility, organization, and commitment from the organizers. As Integrated Soccer Academy, we concluded these two weeks of activities with satisfaction from the participants, their families, and ourselves. The young people participated in this 10-day, 50-hour experience in an environment that was not exactly favorable, given the high temperatures, playing soccer, but also padel and basketball, along with other seated games.

During this summer camp, the young people improve their ability to self-regulate; they drink and recover even outside the scheduled breaks. This means they are in touch with their physical sensations, and by listening to them, they choose when to stop rather than continue playing. This is one of the principles of our sports work with them: to develop physical and mental endurance. Therefore, playing outdoors, moving continuously during training, running, and improving motor coordination, kicking the ball, but also stopping and resting.

At the same time, the summer camp is an opportunity to further develop social relationships with peers and teachers. Experiencing a wide range of sports activities (motor tracks, basketball, and soccer) that involve the mind and body helping to build a sense of belonging to the group. The ample time available allows them to live through and resolve, with the help of sport instructors and psychologists, those small moments of tension that arise in any group during such intense and long-lasting activities.

Like the weekly training during the year, the summer camp also promotes the emotional stability and thinking of these young people, who interact continuously with adults and their friends during these hours. It is a continuous flow of physical sensations, moods, and thoughts that helps them stay focused on the games they play and keep the interaction with others alive.

In conclusion, summer camps are very demanding for them and for us too, but they represent an explosion of interactions otherwise impossible with this frequency and intensity.