Archive for the 'Giovani' Category

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Prandelli leaves Fiorentina bench

Juventus is victim of its successes

Juventus seems to be a victim of its own successes (9 consecutive championships won). The team has changed several players, but when you join a club with these results behind you, you can be prone to assume an arrogant mentality, centered on the results of the near past, but not belonging to the present. In this way, you can play a game with a mental approach to wait for the expected positive result, victory. This approach can also explain the mistakes of superficial behaviors committed by Arthur against Benevento and by Bentancur in the Champions League that gave away a goal to the opponents.

A typical mistake of arrogance lies in the condition that the normal rules for this team do not apply. The successes of past years can blind the team, prone them to believe that a winning solution is always available anyway.
Another mistake of this mentality is the belief in one’s own ability to solve games. It is certainly a positive belief, but only if it is coupled with the necessary commitment, otherwise it remains only an optimistic hope.

A third error of this arrogant mentality lies in the explanations provided by the coach, Andrea Pirlo, who interprets, at least publicly, these negative results with some errors of individual players. It is obvious that there have been mistakes, but in a team these errors of mentality of the single players manifest themselves when there is a lack of team cohesion in the commitment with which to face the matches. There has been a lack of player-leaders who must maintain high levels of focus during the game without the game becoming impulsive and too fast.

European Congress of Sport Psychology

To reflect on winning

The only way to develop a winning mentality is to win. I’m not saying we have to start winning because we already win, but we have to win more and more (Julio Velasco).

The biggest difficulty I have had with my players in my career is translating to them in training the difficulty of competition. I ask them to do certain things in a certain way, not because I like it, but because otherwise they will find an opponent who will not let them do it. In basketball, things have to be done with a big guy like you pushing you when you touch the ball. Things have to be done with ten thousand people insulting you. Things have to be done with a referee that you might not see. And then you have to get used to these things in training, you can’t ask me for 10-15 games to understand what life is like (Ettore Messina).

It is a problem of self-need. I believe that I can be a coach if I struggle to stimulate self-desire. If as a coach I can convince 3 of my 10 players to be self-demanding with themselves and their teammates, I’ve won. I don’t coach anymore. I just watch, and the car goes on its own. Our struggle is not change of direction, schema 1 or schema 3. Our struggle is for our players to get to the point where, under great pressure, they pass the ball to each other (Ettore Messina).

“We have to stop considering cleverness a virtue and hustling an art: perfectionism has to beat our ingrained brashness … Motivation is like strength: it is never the same for anyone. But like strength, motivation can also be trained, and the most effective way to do this is not to rest too much on our laurels (Arrigo Sacchi).

Making a team win is not a matter of how great the player or players are. They all have to be willing to sacrifice and give something of themselves to become champions (Phil Jackson).

The spirit, the will to win, and the desire to excel are the things that last. These are far more important than the events that happen (John Wooden).

A champion is afraid to lose, everyone else is afraid to win (Billie Jean King)

IJSP 2° Special Issue: 50° Anniversary

2° SPECIAL ISSUE 1970-2020


Guest Editors: Sidonio Serpa, Fabio Lucidi, Alberto Cei

Fifty years with the International Journal of Sport Psychology. 

From the history of sport psychology to its actual pathways


Fifty years after its appearance as the very first journal specifically com- mitted to sport psychology, the International Journal of Sport Psychology (IJSP) is today a well reputed and well established scientific journal. Aimed at both researchers and practitioners, the papers published are often not just of academic interest, but also have practical applications too.

After the first special issue looking back at the history of sport psychology, with this second issue we are interested to reflect about contemporary sport psychology and the actual role of the IJSP as a peer reviewed journal publishing and circulating research findings and theoretical speculation from sport psychologist over five continents (both scientists and practitioners) to learn from and build upon.

The aim of this second special issue is than to underline how the historical background showed in the previous issue leaded sport psychology toward actual pathways, focusing on some new trends of research, as well as on the reorientation of some classic topics according to the society changes. Through the contribution of some invited scholars, the present issue would make a point trying to understand what changes sport psychology is facing, or has to face, in relation to some main issues.

Youth sport research: Describing the integrated dynamic elements of the personal assets framework


This critical review of the youth sport literature provides a guiding framework to inform future studies and interventions aimed at understanding or manipulating mechanisms proposed to explain youth athlete development. A global vision of ath- lete development is presented through the interactions of three dynamic elements: (1) appropriate settings, (2) quality social dynamics, and (3) personal engagement in activities. These elements are further broken down into individual layers, extending proximally to distally with layers positioned closest to an athlete having the most immediate impact. Given the correct arrangement, these dynamic elements work in concert to foster immediate, short-term, and long-term outcomes related to develop- ment in sport. We provide a detailed description of each dynamic element and include example literature associated with each of the subsequent layers.

50th years of research on doping prevention. A narrative review of tracks and perspectives.


While the use of Performance-Enhancing and Aesthetic Substances (PAES) has been observed for thousands of years, doping has been conceptualized and regulated only in the modern era. The aim of the present study was to review the doping prevention theme in a narrative manner. The theoretical and research considerations presented in this article overall are guided by the assumption that doping behavior partly depends on the dynamic interplay between a set of individual factors, its environment, and the goal that guide the intentional behavior. Relatedly, this article introduces the general hypothesis that these forms interplay between socio-cognitive variables of particular importance in contributing to the scientific understanding of doping use, as they might help accounting for individual differences in doping intentions and doping use. In doing so, there are described theoretical and research frameworks that indirectly support this general view, and subsequently, is addressed the value of a focus on doping research. Finally, there are reported different research programs that have been tried to find empirical support to the hypothesized linkages between intervention, their efficacy and doping use in various sport contexts.

Exercise psychology meets public health: Avenues on health enhancing physical activity


Across its many different forms, physical activity (PA) has multiplicative health, social and economic benefits. Thus, PA promotion, traditionally addressed by the sports and exercise sector, is now being targeted intersectorally, including public health and policy. Developments in evidence regarding the physical and mental health benefits of even light PA, for short periods of time, have facilitated the publication of solid guidelines, but challenge remains on how to promote it. The majority of the evidence uses behavioral-change models typically used in the field of health psychology, applied to all sets of ill-health behaviors. However, given all the specificities of PA related behaviors (not confined to structured exercise), and their potential to be inherently intrinsic for one side, and automatically activated on the other, new approaches and models need to be further explored and tested. This paper aims to reflect on how the advances in exercise psychology and their intersection with health psychology can contribute to public health efforts on addressing the physical inactivity pandemic, while exploring examples from micro and macro level approaches, including an overview of PA promotion models in health care settings and the potential of digital tools in this field.

The psychological aspects of electronic sports: Tips for sports psychologists


Professional competition in the field of videogames, known as electronic sports (esports), is rapidly growing and sport psychologists are considering provid- ing support to optimize performance. However, psychologists doubt whether esports is an activity of their competence and players (gamers) and coaches know little about how psychologists can help them optimize their performance. The aim of this article is to bring information related to esports and to how sports psychology applies to the context of competitive gaming. The paper begins with an overview of video gaming, tracing the evolution from the first recreational games to the international competitions of today. The article goes on to define esports and to discuss the extent to which they can be considered sports. Next, the article discusses the role of the sport psychologist in esports and offers an overview of the psychological issues worthy of special attention in this field. In addition, the article presents a career model applied to esports. Finally, the authors provide some reflections on the psychological factors involved in esports, highlight the possible roles of sport psy- chologists, and suggest possible directions for future research and interventions.

Is culture a (still) useful category of psychological and social analysis?


The need to centralize culture in research and practice is now well-established in sport psychology and spans different genres of our discipline. Yet, in spite of some precious gains made in the last decade, the culture concept and the uses of it in sport psychology have already arguably become limited and stifled. Setting this observation within historical patterns of culture study witnessed in other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, cultural studies, organizational management), we offer a theoretical critique that outlines the possibility for the death of culture as a meaningful concept in Organizational Sport Psychology and Cultural Sport Psychology. Subsequently, we argue for the continued usefulness of culture and, how, in spite of many infirmities, it remains an essential concept for the analysis of psychological and social life. For culture to remain intellectually vital in these analyses (and in the development of competent cultural practice) though, it must be positioned differently, and with more theoretical variety and rigor. To support our arguments, we close with 5 (not exhaustive) recommendations that can help to secure the future of culture in sport psychology.

Sport performance interventions: Evaluating past strategies and providing future recommendations


The purpose of this review is to highlight the emergence and development of psychological interventions that facilitate optimal performance, and propose future directions for applied sport interventions. Within the past 40 years, educational and alternative psychological skills training (PST) strategies (e.g., self-talk, relaxation) have been proposed, and researchers have shown they can be effective in facilitating athletic performance. However, such PST interventions largely promote the removal (or reduction) of unwanted psychological experiences. In contrast, researchers have offered contemporary approaches whereby athletes should be encouraged to increase their capacity to experience unwanted feelings, cognitions, or intentions, rather eliminating them, to increase psychological flexibility for optimal performance. We review this literature and offer future research directions that focus on the use of technology, on-line sport psychology consultancy, and consideration of post-performance assessments, as methods to improve future PST intervention delivery.

Coaching with virtual reality, intelligent glasses and neurofeedback: The potential impact of new technologies


The last decades have seen new sport technologies become increasingly important for recording, analyzing, and optimizing athletic performances. Combined with valid and defined diagnostic methods, these techniques have opened new perspectives and opportunities for an individualized and context-sensitive action support for training, competition, daily living management and communication. New technologies do not only allow athletes to reach better training results in a less amount of time, but also allow coaches to get more insights on training processes with more effectiveness. This contribution provides an overview of recent technological advancements in sport psychology and highlights their key characteristics as well as useful applications. Techniques that enrich the physical environment of athletes, such as virtual, augmented, and mixed realities are described with modern and mobile output devices like intelligent glasses. Additionally, explanations on attentional, auditory, and brain-related technologies such as neurofeedback that can help improve the cognitive processes of athletes, and serve as diagnostic and training tools are provided. The contribution concludes with a discussion on the ethical and practical implications of these new technological approaches for sport psychology from a broader perspective.

Be able to cope with small problems

In competition, you have to deal with small problems before they get too big and complicated.
Three examples.

  1. A guy in table tennis is up 5-2 during the first set, loses some points and goes 5-8 and then loses the set. The same in the next set is winning 9-6 loses a point and finds himself 9-10 to his opponent.
  2. In tennis a girl is not able to answer to the serve of the opponent and so she loses 15 points repeating always the same error (ball to the net). Then she decides at least to throw it into the opponent’s court, she succeeds and after a while she responds effectively to the same serve that had put her in trouble.
  3. In trap shooting a guy starts to slow down his action but catches the clay pigeon with the second shot, continues in this way in the next clay pigeon and the third clay pigeon does not hit him because he has slowed down too much.

Three different difficulties in three different sports but the same mind mistake. Instead of responding immediately to the error they suffered the mistake, without changing immediately and so a small obstacle became much more serious. They possess the skills necessary to correct themselves but did not do so immediately.

So their goal for improvement in future races is to respond immediately to a small mistake before it becomes too big.

Psychological problems are not problems

Have you ever thought that if a player has a medical problem, the coach talks to the doctor, to get information about the physical condition he talks to the physical trainer. If he has a psychological problem, he talks to his/her assistant or solves it by himself.

So the psychological problems of the players are not a matter that requires the use of professional skills, but anyone can solve them!

In teams, is it about trust?

Soccer coaches often talk about lack of confidence.

First of all we must realize that when we attribute a result to the lack of confidence we are saying everything and nothing, because even if we know that conviction is necessary to play well, we must know the causes that determined it, otherwise it is a way of saying that only serves the coach to save his personal and professional conscience: “It is not my fault, they are the ones who are not confident“.

If, on the other hand, you understand what the ingredients of confidence are, you are probably already getting closer to a cure. In this regard, the questions to ask are as follows:

  • Are the players and the team aware of what they can do?
  • Do they agree on how they should play in the various phases of the game or do they have doubts/concerns?
  • Do they know how to consistently maintain this type of play throughout the match?
  • Does the team have a plan for responding to unexpected game situations?

If you don’t answer these four questions you will not improve; you must be aware of what is missing, the coach first. You can’t hide behind the phrase: “The team didn’t follow my directions” or “The team has no personality”, you have to know what caused these effects otherwise you will continue to lose.

In practical terms, the first step in increasing team competence is to train tactical and mental skills through quality drills. In fact, skill training through conscientious coaching ensures players are able to perform what is required of them. Preparation-improvement-skills go hand in hand, and this type of daily practice allows you to focus on the progress that occurs in a single session, in a week, in a month, and so on. In this way, not only is competence shaped, but also the ability to know how to play consistently over time.

Through the work on the field proposed by the coach, the players also develop another conviction that is extremely important, namely that it is through their commitment that they improve. The triptych of preparation – improvement – competence can be successfully achieved only if the players feel fully committed to what is required of them. If, on the other hand, this mechanism is not triggered, training will be conducted on autopilot, without risk of making mistakes and committing themselves just enough to not be taken back by the coach. When I work with athletes, I point out that these are “soulless” workouts in which the athlete’s job prevails, the intensity is absent and mistakes are explained by saying “but it’s just a training session, I’ll be more focused during the competition”. On these occasions, you have to be very clear with your players and point out to them that training in this way is harmful, because it creates a passive mentality that can only be repeated on the field.

Intense training with a high level of concentration also means that the coach must be supportive and encouraging precisely because the team is asked to be totally involved. The basic idea is this: the more demanding you are in terms of quality (speed and accuracy), the greater your willingness to accept mistakes and support first the commitment and second the result. If you act the other way around, first the result and then the commitment, the players will begin to do only what they are good at, so that they receive positive reinforcement from the coach, thus reducing the possibility of improvement.

What is your mindset?

What is your mindset?

Will be esports at 2024 Olympic Games?

Esports will likely go to the 2024 Olympics. Below are characteristics of these sports and the world’s top athletes.

  • Thiel and John (2019): esports, like sports, take place in contexts where competing teams or players fight for victory, with rules that apply to everyone and characterized by training regimens that lead to improvements in typical game skills. Game-specific tactical knowledge plays a decisive role with regard to success.
  • Pedraza-Ramirez, Musculus, Raab and Laborde (2020): existence of ranking systems and competition regulated by official leagues are fundamental aspects to consider a video game as an esport.
  • García-Naveira et al. (2018): esports are activities that test human performance, are integrated with technology and media, have a large mental component and are socially accepted.

Characteristics top esports athletes

  • knowledge of the video game
  • motivation
  • ability to make decisions
  • ability to separate personal life from sports activities
  • concentration
  • emotional control
  • positive attitude
  • commitment to continuous improvement and mental and physical warm-ups
  • follow pre-competitive routines and be able to adapt to new game situations.

(from Garcia-Lanzo, Bonilla and Chamarro, IJSP, 6/2020)