Archive for the 'Giovani' Category

In memory of Gianni Vattimo

Peak performance in ultramarathon is of the over40

Nikolaidis PT, Knechtle B. Performance in 100-km Ultramarathoners-At Which Age, It Reaches Its Peak? J Strength Cond Res. 2020 May;34(5):1409-1415.

The age of peak performance was 40-44 years in women and 45-49 years in men when all finishers were analyzed, whereas it was 30-34 years in women and 35-39 years in men when the top 10 finishers were considered in 5-year age groups. When we analyzed finishers in 1-year age groups, we found the age of peak performance at 41 years in women and 45 years in men considering all finishers, and at 39 years in women and 41 years in men considering the top 10 finishers. In conclusion, the age of peak performance was younger in women than in men, which might reflect the overall younger age of women participants than men. Compared with previous studies, we observed the peak performance at an age older by ∼10 years, which could be attributed to an increase of finishers’ age across calendar years. Because the knowledge of the age of peak performance is unique for each sport, coaches and fitness trainers might benefit from the findings of this study in the long-term training of their athletes.

Knechtle B, Valeri F, Zingg MA, Rosemann T, Rüst CA. What is the age for the fastest ultra-marathon performance in time-limited races from 6 h to 10 days? Age (Dordr). 2014;36(5):9715.

Recent findings suggested that the age of peak ultra-marathon performance seemed to increase with increasing race distance. The present study investigated the age of peak ultra-marathon performance for runners competing in time-limited ultra-marathons held from 6 to 240 h (i.e. 10 days) during 1975-2013. Age and running performance in 20,238 (21%) female and 76,888 (79%) male finishes (6,863 women and 24,725 men, 22 and 78%, respectively) were analysed using mixed-effects regression analyses. The annual number of finishes increased for both women and men in all races. About one half of the finishers completed at least one race and the other half completed more than one race. Most of the finishes were achieved in the fourth decade of life. The age of the best ultra-marathon performance increased with increasing race duration, also when only one or at least five successful finishes were considered. The lowest age of peak ultra-marathon performance was in 6 h (33.7 years, 95% CI 32.5-34.9 years) and the highest in 48 h (46.8 years, 95% CI 46.1-47.5). With increasing number of finishes, the athletes improved performance. Across years, performance decreased, the age of peak performance increased, and the age of peak ultra-marathon performance increased with increasing number of finishes. In summary, the age of peak ultra-marathon performance increased and performance decreased in time-limited ultra-marathons. The age of peak ultra-marathon performance increased with increasing race duration and with increasing number of finishes. These athletes improved race performance with increasing number of finishes.

2500 years ago moving was already a fundamental value

Junior performances do not predicts the future results

Gulch, A., Barth, M., McNamara, B., Hambrick, D. (2023). Quantifying the Extent to Which Successful Juniors and Successful Seniors are Two Disparate Populations: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Findings. Sports Med, 53(6): 1201–1217.

This study aimed to establish more robust and generalizable findings via a systematic review and synthesis of findings. We considered three competition levels—competing at a national championship level, competing at an international championship level, and winning international medals—and addressed three questions: (1) How many junior athletes reach an equivalent competition level when they are senior athletes? (2) How many senior athletes reached an equivalent competition level when they were junior athletes? The answers to these questions provide an answer to Question (3): To what extent are successful juniors and successful seniors one identical population or two disparate populations?


We conducted a systematic literature search in SPORTDiscus, ERIC, ProQuest, PsychInfo, PubMed, Scopus, WorldCat, and Google Scholar until 15 March 2022. Percentages of juniors who achieved an equivalent competition level at senior age (prospective studies) and of senior athletes who had achieved an equivalent competition level at junior age (retrospective studies) were aggregated across studies to establish these percentages for all athletes, separately for prospective and retrospective studies, junior age categories, and competition levels. Quality of evidence was evaluated using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) version for descriptive quantitative studies.


Prospective studies included 110 samples with 38,383 junior athletes. Retrospective studies included 79 samples with 22,961 senior athletes. The following findings emerged: (1) Few elite juniors later achieved an equivalent competition level at senior age, and few elite seniors had previously achieved an equivalent competition level at junior age. For example, 89.2% of international-level U17/18 juniors failed to reach international level as seniors and 82.0% of international-level seniors had not reached international level as U17/18 juniors. (2) Successful juniors and successful seniors are largely two disparate populations. For example, international-level U17/18 juniors and international-level seniors were 7.2% identical and 92.8% disparate. (3) Percentages of athletes achieving equivalent junior and senior competition levels were the smallest among the highest competition levels and the youngest junior age categories. (4) The quality of evidence was generally high.


The findings question the tenets of traditional theories of giftedness and expertise as well as current practices of talent selection and talent promotion.

Losing because the team was not relaxed

A few days during the finals of the European volleyball championships, Italian coach Ferdinando De Giorgi during a timeout uttered a word that has been rarely heard in sports in recent years. The term is relaxed, he wanted the players to be calmer, less rushed and inaccurate.

Personally, I am very attached to this which is not just a word but expresses a concept and I would say a way of life. I learned relaxation techniques when I was 21 years old and have never abandoned this approach that accompanies me in my daily life. I have studied for years the importance of the balance between incitement and calm in work and leisure, in training and competition.

Our society has evolved toward an aggressive performance pattern, one must always push, play on the attack, dare, happily experience stresses. This is the phase of incitement and responds to the philosophy that stress is a privilege but are we sure that the other pole of the issue, calmness, is also given the same attention? From my experience I have come to the conclusion that calmness is most often interpreted only as a condition to be pursued because one cannot only and always squeeze like a lemon otherwise the body will break down. So calmness is seen not as the other pole of the human condition but as an expression of a limit to which one must submit.

For these reasons, a coach who during a European final that his team is losing says: relax, belongs to another planet. One in which relaxed and calm are positive and indispensable skills and not limits to which one must be subjected.

What’s the use of studying?

I still remember the question the philosophy teacher asked on the first day of high school, “What’s the use of studying? Who can answer that?” Someone dared polite answers, “to grow well,” “to become good people.” But the unsatisfied professor shook his head. Until finally he said, “It’s for escaping from prison.”

We looked at each other in amazement. “Ignorance is a prison. Because in there you don’t understand and you don’t know what to do. We have to organize the biggest jailbreak of the century. It will not be easy, they want you stupid, but if you climb over the wall of ignorance then you will understand without having to ask for help. And it will be hard to fool you. Who’s in?”

I was reminded of that indelible episode reading that only one boy in twenty understands a text. And I think of the other nineteen, who struggle to escape and risk a life sentence of ignorance. A democratic state must save them because it is right. And because the risk then is immense: weak minds demand the strong man.

Corrado Augias

10 action to control anger

Here are 10 actions to control anger:

  1. Deep Breathing - When you start to feel anger, take deep breaths to calm yourself. Inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling through the mouth can reduce tension.
  2. Take a Break - If possible, step away from the situation or the person triggering your anger. A short break can help you collect your thoughts.
  3. Use Visualization - Imagine a calm and serene place to divert your mind from anger.
  4. Write Your Feelings - Keeping an emotions journal can help you express your feelings in a constructive way.
  5. Talk to Someone Trustworthy - Sharing your feelings with a friend or family member can be cathartic and provide support.
  6. Practice Assertiveness - Learn to communicate clearly and respectfully without resorting to aggression.
  7. Physical Exercise - Physical activity can help release tension and improve your mood.
  8. Progressive Muscle Relaxation - Practice progressive muscle relaxation to reduce physical tension.
  9. Meditation and Mindfulness - These techniques can help you stay calm and distance yourself from anger.
  10. Seek Professional Help - If anger is a persistent problem that negatively affects your life, consider consulting a psychologist or therapist to acquire tools for more effective anger management.

Remember that anger management is a process that takes time and practice. Use these strategies consistently to improve your ability to handle anger in a healthy and effective way.

Grit: winning athletes’ mindset

“Grit” is a relatively new concept used to describe a particular attitude or mindset that combines determination, perseverance, passion, and inner strength.

Here are some key elements associated with grit:

  1. Determination - Grit is often characterized by a strong commitment to pursuing a long-term goal, without being discouraged by difficulties. Those with grit are willing to work hard and overcome obstacles to achieve success.
  2. Passion - Grit often arises from a deep passion for what one is trying to achieve. When a person is passionate about what they do, they are more likely to make the necessary efforts to succeed.
  3. Resilience - Grit also involves the ability to withstand adversity and failures. Those with grit don’t easily give up when things go wrong but instead look for ways to overcome obstacles and continue to make progress.
  4. Focus - Grit often entails intense concentration on goals and the ability to remain focused despite distractions. Those with grit are determined to stay on the path to success.
  5. Intrinsic Motivation - Grit is often driven by intrinsic motivation, meaning an internal desire to achieve something meaningful for oneself through one’s efforts.

In summary, grit is an attitude characterized by determination, passion, and resilience in pursuing goals. It is a quality that can be extremely useful for overcoming challenges and achieving success in various areas of life, including work, sports, and personal growth.

More info:

Frontini, R., Sigmundsson, H., Antunes, R., Silva, A. F., Lima, R., and Clemente, F. M. (2021). Passion, grit, and mindset in undergraduate sport sciences students. New Ideas Psychol. 62, 100870

Lee J. The Role of Grit in Organizational Performance During a Pandemic. Front Psychol. 2022 Jul 7;13:929517.

Book review: L’arte del salto triplo


Allenare la motivazione per vincere nello sport e nella vita  

Giorgio Merola

Erickson, 2023, pp. 310

I risultati eccezionali e le imprese compiute dai grandi atleti derivano da un miglioramento graduale nel corso degli anni. Questa frase esprime solo apparentemente un concetto semplice, tessendo l’elogio della perseveranza e della continuità dell’impegno attraverso il tempo. In realtà, serve a orientare il lettore a conoscere quali siano le ragioni che spingono un giovane a impegnarsi con intensità per tutto l’arco della giovinezza e oggi spesso anche sino alle soglie dei 40 anni. Questo è il segreto dello sport, quello che nella psicologia del buon senso si traduce nella domanda che ogni atleta ha ricevuto: “Chi te lo fa fare di fare tutta questa fatica?”.

In questo libro Giorgio prova a fornire una risposta a questa curiosità, che permette di spiegare questa scelta quasi monacale che fanno gli atleti di livello assoluto, in un mondo che va invece nella direzione opposta, dove si vorrebbe avere tutto e possibilmente subito. Giorgio Merola è la persona adatta per scrivere questa storia, non solo come psicologo dello sport, ma anche perché 16 anni fa quando gli dissi che una scuola per atleti a Bolzano cercava uno psicologo a tempo pieno lui si buttò anima e corpo in questa esperienza, che continua tutt’oggi con soddisfazione professionale. L’atleta compie le stesse scelte, è disposto a cambiare se ritiene che quello che gli viene proposto potrebbe migliorarlo. L’obiettivo è la soddisfazione e migliorare le prestazioni sacrificando ciò che si è fatto sino a quel momento, per un modo di allenarsi diverso, per un allenatore con idee più nuove, per un club che gli fornisce opportunità migliori.

E’ l’approccio del miglioramento continuativo, difficile per un atleta che è già al top della sua carriera sportiva, Quindi la grinta, la resilienza, la percezione di autoefficacia o la mentalità orientata alla crescita temi di questo libro sono centrali non solo per l’adolescente che vuole emergere nel mondo sportivo ma anche per i campioni. Infatti, se come afferma Novak Djokovic lo stress è un privilegio, bisogna però saperlo vivere con questo significato esistenziale, non è qualcosa per cui nascondersi, bisogna accettarlo sapendo che le sconfitte sono all’ordine del giorno, che  queste possono ridurre la motivazione e che i social sono un’arma contro gli atleti che si trovano in un momento di difficoltà.

Lo stesso concetto espresso da Djokovic è stato espresso da Albert Bandura quando ha detto che togliendo le sfide, vince la noia. Insegniamo, allora, agli atleti a comprendere in che mondo oggi vivono, perché non si sentano impreparati di fronte a queste nuove sfide. Insegniamogli a esser consapevoli che la dimensione tecnico-tattica e la forma fisica sono certamente aspetti decisivi del loro essere atleti, ma che la dimensione psicologica non può essere ignorata o solo capita, la si deve allenare come ogni altra abilità. Quanto scritto in questo libro sarà per loro assolutamente utile per migliorare come persone che ricercano la soddisfazione personale attraverso lo sport.

Is it possible to have fun when doing something difficult in which one is skilled?

It is possible to have fun when doing something difficult in which one is skilled. In fact, many people find great satisfaction and enjoyment in challenges that require their abilities and skills. Here are some reasons why this is possible:

  1. Sense of achievement - Overcoming a difficult challenge and completing a complex task can lead to a strong sense of achievement and personal pride. This sense of success can be very rewarding and enjoyable.
  2. Flow - People enjoy themselves more when they are in the so-called “flow state.” This state occurs when one is fully immersed in a challenging activity that requires skills and concentration. In this state, time seems to pass quickly, and one can experience a deep sense of pleasure.
  3. Competition - If you participate in a race or competition, the desire to win or improve can be very motivating and enjoyable. Competition can add an element of excitement and adrenaline to the experience.
  4. Personal growth - Facing difficult challenges can contribute to personal growth and the improvement of one’s skills. This sense of progress can be extremely gratifying and enjoyable.
  5. Passion and interest - When you are passionate and interested in what you are doing, even difficult challenges can be fun. Passion can fuel motivation and make the entire experience more rewarding.
  6. Social connection - Participating in a challenge or complex project with others can create a sense of community and social connection. Collaboration and sharing challenges can increase the enjoyment and satisfaction of the experience.
  7. Continuous learning - Facing difficult situations can result in continuous learning and the discovery of new skills. This learning process can be exciting and rewarding, as new knowledge and skills are acquired.
  8. Creativity - Solving complex problems often requires creative and innovative thinking. Finding unique and creative solutions can be a very enjoyable aspect of facing difficult challenges.
  9. Sense of purpose - Working on challenging and meaningful projects can give a sense of purpose and meaning to one’s activity. Knowing that you are contributing to something important can increase satisfaction and enjoyment in doing the work.
  10. Personal experience - Every difficult challenge is a unique personal experience. The process of overcoming these challenges can lead to precious memories and exciting adventures, which can be a source of fun and satisfaction when remembered later.

In summary, having fun while doing something difficult in which you are skilled can result from a combination of personal achievement, growth, social connection, continuous learning, and the discovery of new possibilities. These elements contribute to making the experience rewarding and fulfilling for many people.

However, it is important to note that not everyone finds it enjoyable to face difficult challenges. Some may feel stressed or anxious in such situations. The key is to find a balance between the challenge and personal competence so that you can fully enjoy the activity. Additionally, it’s important to manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way to ensure that the experience remains fun and satisfying.