Archive for the 'Mental coaching' Category

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Today thought is commitment

Commitment is today an important thought to place at the centre of our daily lives.

Commitment is for the athletes and their staff who train in a period that was usually full of competitions, while today this happens only for some sports. Commitment is also feeling that your body does not respond to our stimulations as it did, because we have not trained or only partially trained.

Commitment is to keep our motivation and enthusiasm high even if we do not know what will happen in the coming months. Never as now it’s necessary to accept the present we live in, live it intensely without the certainties of the past and the precise planning of the future.

Commitment is also required in living everyday life in a responsible way, our habits or carelessness can change not only our lives but also those of other people. We prevent with our actions the spread of the virus, so we must be careful and think that the enemy even if it is not visible is still present.

Juventus is victim o itself

Juventus with AC Milan had the opportunity to close the championship. They didn’t succeed, even though they were 2-0 up.               They lost 4-2.

Juventus damage themselves, even if the opponents try their best to get a success. They are so strong and cynical that they don’t give importance to these results given advantage in the standings. I don’t think so.

The question in my opinion is simple: 8 consecutive championships won in a row determine beliefs, expectations and motivations.The culture of this team, leads it to be convinced that at the end the championship will be won and, therefore, to take these risks for a tendency of the players and the coach not to give relevance for the future. Obviously the players live their emotions and today they cannot be satisfied.

In my opinion they have to change this way of living the championship. Sarri says they played very well for 60 minutes, but if you turn off, the others take advantage of it and put you under.

Sarri says they played very well for 60 minutes, but if you turn off, the others take advantage of it and put you under. Between excellent and poor they have to find a solution, otherwise they will always take the field with this approach that in every single match can cause continuous problems.

Expectations to win the game anyway, even with these mental blocks, are a performance killer, because you think you will win without doing what it takes to win.

Who is not able to listen

One type of coaches who do not know how to listen is represented by those becoming impatient when they listen to their athletes. They show this reaction by interrupting them and starting to talk, explaining what should be done and accompanying the words with aggressive or devaluing behaviors what had been expressed by athletes previously. Faced with this wrong way of dealing with a situation and in order to change this attitude, the coaches should ask themselves what reactions determine this behavior in athletes. They believe that, after this communication, the athletes are more motivated to take initiatives and to be autonomous in their work, or they are convinced that this kind of response generates the opposite effect: fear of the coach, conviction of not being understood and awareness that the only thing to get along is to follow to the letter the instructions they give them without ever objecting.

This type of coaches in front of the athletes’ words often thinks that:

  • “They always have a reason to complain, I don’t even listen to them anymore.”
  • “Young people today don’t want to sacrifice themselves anymore, talking to them is a waste of breath.”
  • “I’m here to train, not talk.”
  • “Any excuse is good for quitting.”
  • “They have to do what I say and not on their own.”

It must be said that every coach sometimes manifests these thoughts and it is equally possible that the young athletes in certain situations act in this way. So what characterizes the coaches who listen less than their colleagues is not the total absence or presence of these ideas but rather their frequency. Coaches who listen have these thoughts in situations where their athletes actually act in this way. The more impulsive coaches, on the contrary, interpret much more frequently the demands and actions of their athletes in this way.

Goals of psychological consultation in sport

  • Development/improvement of athletes’ psychological skills for training and competitions
  • Psychological evaluation athletes
  • Consultancy for coaches on specific aspects of their interest
  • Solution of the main problems of the athletes the coach does not know how to cope with
  • Improve management of errors and breaks in the race
  • Managing successes and defeats
  • Collaboration in the management of the out-of-training group
  • Psychological support to athletes and coaches during the competition
  • Management competitive stress of athletes, coaches and staff
  • Improvement of the athlete’s wellbeing in extra-sporting life
  • Public and media relations management
  • End of career management and transition to new professional roles

 

Mercedes against racism

Black athletes move not only in team sports but also in tennis and many others like Lewis Hamilton in Formula with unexpected results, involving the NBA and in this case Mercedes, in support of the anti-racist movement.
Excellent actions that we hope will also serve to change the politics.

F1, Mercedes al Gp d' Austria con la macchina dipinta di nero contro la discriminazione razziale

“Mercedes will run the Austrian GP (July 5) and the entire 2020 Formula 1 championship with an all black livery, instead of the traditional silver one, to support the battles against discrimination and racism. It is a very strong message that launches the world champion team, on the front line alongside Lewis Hamilton. The six-time World Champion has taken to the field in favour of the black community, committing himself personally for civil rights”.

“In recent weeks the Black Lives Matter movement – explains the team – has turned a light on how much more needs to be done to fight racism and all forms of intolerance. We too have learned from it to build a new future. We are open to diversity but also aware that within our organization only 3% of workers belong to ethnic minorities and only 12% are women. We need to find a new approach to reach areas of society and new talent where we are not yet.” (Source: Corriere della Sera, Daniele Sparisci)

Memories about the Olympics that there won’t be

It would have been a great time, probably I would have gone to Tokyo, to the Olympics with the Chinese shooting team, after a year working with them since the 2019 World Championships. I would also have followed some Italian athletes. Like the athletes I was preparing for this unique event, the Olympics, which I have always participated in with federations or individual athletes since Atlanta 1996.

I still keep the T-shirts of each edition and the memories of the most important moments are very clear and vivid in my memory. For example, when the president of shooting told me: “Doctor, are you always so calm?” I said, “Mr. President, if you see me anxious, you’ll start to worry.” I had experiences that I would never have imagined, athletes men and women, who won a medal in the final, who two hours earlier were in panic, nausea, pure terror of not knowing what to do to win. I had to talk to them, certainly not giving them a pat on the back or telling them not to worry that they were strong.

Almost always the coaches let me talk with them saying: “Alberto, you take care of it”. I lived those moments listening phrases like: “I’m so terrified that I seem calm”, “I’m not going out of here, “I’m going home”, “Tell me what to do”, “If I try to imagine what I’m going to do, I think all wrong”, “I’ve been through the final a thousand times and now I’m just nervous”.

The first time, in Atlanta, I wasn’t ready to face a situation like this. I had thought about what unexpected events might happen but I hadn’t anticipated the panic in a finalist’s mind less than one hour from the start. Luciano Giovannetti, the team’s head coach, winner in the past of two gold medals in Moscow and Los Angeles, told me: “You’re the psychologist, you talk to him”. I went to where the shooter was eating something and he told me he didn’t want to leave the tent for the final, total panic. At that point he was really close to the start of the competition and I began to talk reminding him of all the sacrifices he had made in those years to arrive prepared for this moment, the decisive one. I spoke to him for a few minutes during which his mood changed, he found the vitality necessary for an Olympic final. When he started the final, he missed one of the first clay pigeons and he turned around looking back. Then he told us that he had said these words: “If you quit now, you’re an asshole, just concentrate!”. It worked, he won the silver medal.

From this experience I learned that it’s really true that the winners are the ones who go through this emotional hell and control it. Second lesson, the staff is also decisive for the winners, otherwise they run the risk of succumbing, just when they have to face the decisive moments of a race.

The Olympics are one of the three most important sporting events, along with the Football World Cup and the Tour de France. In Italy our top athletes, called “Probable Olympics” are about 800, of these about 300 participate in the Olympics, less than half are among the top 10 in the world of their sport and usually, Italy wins 25 medals, putting us among the 10 most winning nations. In essence, there are about twenty top athletes who have won medals at the Summer Olympic Games on a starting base of about 800. This data highlights the extreme difficulty of achieving such a success. It allows us to understand the immense joy of those who win a medal but also the immense disappointment of those who, despite their skills, have not succeeded. It is not rhetorical to say that the Olympics have an immense value for each of them and that more and better should be done to develop and safeguard the talent, the health and motivation of these people we call athletes.

Never give up in face of the evidence

The world is full of examples that should serve to convince us that in any situation it is possible to find a solution to solve a problem or get out of a difficulty. How is it then that many people do not look for these solutions? They think instead that there are no solutions and that the examples given do not concern them but are more related to luck and chance or to the particular qualities of a person who, because of his individual characteristics, has found a solution that only he was able to implement. This is the interpretation often used to describe how a champion of sport came out of a situation judged impossible by others. The exceptional character of his/her condition, the talent, serves as justification for all those who think that, not being champions, they could never get out of that problem.

In my opinion, the problem refers to the way of thinking used by an individual. When something goes wrong, for example a bad grade at school, a badly lost race or an argument at work, what is my reaction? Do I think it is someone’s fault? Do I think I wasn’t able to do the job? Was I unlucky?

It’s important to know your own way of assessing performance.

We know that pessimists and when we are depressed, we tend to think in this way, which has the effect of devaluing personal skills and reduces the possibility of committing to finding solutions. Optimism characterised by a superficial approach to difficulties is also harmful and of little help. Thinking about succeeding is not in itself a help to the solution.

Instead, the optimism that goes hand in hand with commitment and an awareness of the difficulty of what you are about to face must be constantly trained and pursued. Only by combining these three aspects, maximum commitment, awareness of the difficulty and optimism, will it be possible to find the appropriate solution to our problem.

1970 i the foundation year of the first journal of sport psychology

This year is the 51st year since the International Journal of Sport Psychology (IJSP) was founded in 1970. We will publish two special issues, the first has a look back at the history of sport psychology and second look at the future perspective. Guest editors: Sidonio Serpa, Fabio Lucidi and Alberto Cei.

This journal was the very first dedicated specifically to sport psychology, and it was created almost 10 years before the Journal of Sport Psychology that was published for the first time only in 1979. I have heard many criticisms of the Journal, as it was called by Antonelli, being the editor together with John Salmela from 1988 to 1995. However, few people remember the many difficulties involved in its founding and development, how no publisher was willing to accept the burden of publishing a scientific journal for world-wide diffusion. Only when the Journal finally became well-known and become successful did some of the main publishing firms show interest in purchasing it. Initially the IJSP was supposed to be published in Norway, directed by Alfred Morgan Olsen – Norwegian School of Sport (1969-1992) and  ISSP vice-president – but problems arose with the publisher. In fact, Antonelli in the first issue wrote:

“The Managing Council appointed an Editorial Board (led by Olsen), and I, too, signed a contract with a Norwegian publisher. . .and I received a good number of subscriptions. Because of the problems that Dr Olsen refers to, I have found myself obliged to take on the position of Chief Editor and to find another publisher at all costs and without delay in order to start the journal. A journal that would inform all members … had become a necessity, a duty” (Antonelli, 1970, p. 3–4).

Antonelli found the person who would accept this challenge in his friend, the publisher Luigi Pozzi. Pozzi himself told me that when Antonelli proposed this enterprise just a few words were necessary to persuade him to accept. One can only agree with Salmela (1999), when he states that this was truly a heroic challenge, achieved only thanks to Antonelli’s solitary determination, without financial coverage:

“For $10 a year I am able to offer only two small, unassuming, issues, so there is another matter which I must reveal. When registration to the ISSP was free of charge, I received 1500 applications. When I asked for 10 dollars, not for the ISSP, that sustains no expenses and thus requires no money, but for the subscription, only 10% paid this fee. I have found a very understanding publisher, who has agreed to give up all his profit, and for this I publicly thank him from the bottom of my heart; but printing and mailing expenses are enormous. I will be able to print and send out the first issue with what I have received to date. And I will send it to all 1500 members. If necessary, I will then go ahead at my own expense … this is not an exhibition of crazy heroism … I am sure that when they receive this first issue, many members will pay the subscription fee for the second issue of 1970″ (Antonelli, 1970, p. 4–5).

 

The making of an expert: Anders Ericsson passed away

Anders Ericsson had a brilliant career and renewed his interest in the study of an idea as simple as the world: “How to become expert.” To try to provide an answer to this question he studied sports champions, violinists from the best schools, chess masters and many other super-performers. He has written books with compelling titles such as “The road of excellence” (1996) or “The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance” (2006). He has studied for decades the structure and acquisition of expert performance and in particular how experts learn and maintain excellent performance over time through what he called deliberate practice.

Speaker - Pallas Gathering

Deliberate practice is a purpose-oriented activity and, therefore, one knows the goals and how to meet them.

In music, few students can have a full-time violin teacher, the standard is to take lessons during the week and do the teacher’s homework. Therefore at home, students practice to improve their level of competence.

It therefore requires the existence of a teacher who provides practical exercises to improve one’s skills.

In short, deliberate practice:

  • develops the skills that others already have by following a specific training.
  • puts the person out of the comfort zone, constantly looking for improvement with a quasi-maximal level of commitment
  • provides for specific objectives and not for generic improvements
  • requires full attention and conscious action
  • needs feedback and commitment changes, according to the teacher’s comments and instructions
  • provides for the improvement of the mental representation of one’s performance
  • requires changing previous skills to provide better performance

Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology, Florida State University and Conradi Eminent Scholar was born in 1947 and passed away a few days ago, June 17, 2020.

Covid and mindset: a lost war

Now begins the phase of self-control. There was a case of covid in an international golf tournament, the same happened in Adria in the tournament promoted by Djokovic, where a finalist was positive. In Italy, in football there will be a bland quarantine in case the virus hit a player or other members of the team. Small but negative signals that push us to live in apnea, as if waiting.

Always negative and more relevant signals come from Italy. There are statistics that say that the number of positives is not falling as expected, probably due to inadequate behaviors. And this would increase the probability of a second wave in the autumn. According to research conducted by the Catholic University, 41% of Italians do not seem willing to vaccinate against Covid. At the moment only a few million people have downloaded the Immuni App. It is mainly people between 35 and 59 years (with 48%) to declare that they do not want to be vaccinated, it is also a transversal group in relation to professions that unites workers and entrepreneurs, employees and professionals. They share a psychological profile in which prevails a “fatalist”, “individualist and selfish” and do not perceive the value of social responsibility. The research has shown that compared to March, the self-control of the population to respect the rules has decreased, dysfunctional behaviors have increased and the emotional willingness to continue to respect them has decreased.

Therefore, these people show a difficulty in integrating the return to normality within the framework of rules that are not the usual ones, but which imply awareness of the social role of each person with regard to the management of their own health and responsibility towards their community. These dysfunctional attitudes are the usual ones that people use to justify to themselves behaviors that are clearly negative for their health, just think of the problems related to smoking, nutrition and sedentary lifestyle, just to remember the most common ones in our society. The fatalistic approach (“I will certainly not die of cancer because I smoke” or “You have to die of something anyway”) and the individualistic approach (“They say what they want me to smoke” or “Life is mine and I do what I want”) are enemies of social life and personal self-control. We are faced, therefore, with the reactions that people show to those problems requiring solutions that are developed in the long term and do not end quickly. They are not reactions different from those they have used in the past, but until now they have mainly involved only themselves.

To this approach should be added that crowding into a square to have fun with friends immediately produces positive emotions, while respecting the rules of physical distancing to stay healthy will only produce a positive effect over time. In essence, these behaviours are reinforced by the immediate benefits that they bring and that outweigh the costs and consequences over time.

We need a change of mentality because now it is completely different and the effects of our actions have an effect on the health of others we come into contact with.The difference lies in the pandemic that involves the whole of society, which has hit everyone’s daily life very hard and still continues to change the rules of social coexistence and work. All this requires a collective solution that drastically reduces dysfunctional behaviors and the whole country will have to actively move in this direction.