Archive for the 'Olimpiadi' Category

10 goals to train with pleasure and successo away from competitions

  1. Starting over to train again on the field is not the same as repeating the same things as if nothing had happened - It is a new beginning, and everyone must learn from the experience of these months. For many the races are still a long way off, but the motivation has to be ignited immediately, setting the goals to be ready when the racing season will resume.
  2. Life is a constant change - Determine what changes you want to make and start on the path to achieving them right away.
  3. Accept this unexpected condition - Some people prefer to think, “Why did this lockdown have to happen” and so they cultivate their own victimhood while others think, “Why didn’t it have to happen to me? This second approach allows people to live negative situations in an active way, supporting personal motivation and the search for a proactive role.
  4. A new opportunity - Think about why this new training period can be an opportunity for improvement that you would never have had.
  5. Focus on your personal growth - Every situation, therefore even lockdown and the restart of training without competitions, is a stimulus to know ourselves and learn to react with thoughts, emotions and actions. In this way we strengthen our self-control.
  6. Be committed every day - Every day take a step to make your life’s dream come true. Many athletes don’t cultivate their dreams because they are afraid of being disappointed if they don’t realize them. Others take the risk and try their best without any certainty of the end result.
  7. Use mistakes as instructions to improve - It’s true that mistakes are the only chance for improvement. Learn to know them and accept that excellent performance is based on correcting thousands of mistakes made so far.
  8. Use appropriate strategies to manage stress - In this time of uncertainty, moments of anxiety, worry, depression, unstable mood are common for many people. This is not the problem, we have to live with our fears. However, it becomes a problem if we do nothing to overcome these moments. Therefore, the mental training practiced daily allows to get out of these negative and limiting mental states of mind.
  9. Share your thoughts - do not put yourself in a condition of psychological distance from people who are important to you. Instead, listen and talk them, share thoughts, feelings and actions.
  10. Be optimistic - Optimism is the art of giving a temporary and not permanent meaning to what happens to us. It is about recognizing that tomorrow will be a better day because of our personal skills that we will use to their best advantage.

For once, don’t do it

When the protest against racism unites people like all of us, the great champions and the sport corporations, maybe it is a sign that we can change. #UnitWeAllWin @Nike #GeorgeFloyd @Adidas @Brooksrunning

 

Immagine

Guidance to cope with the loss of competition

*A guidance report recently produced by the Covid-19 Sport and Exercise Psychology Working Group on behalf of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology has highlighted three priority areas with which to support athletes.

  1. Mental health and dealing with uncertainty

With many events and competitions postponed indefinitely, with no certain confirmation of when some will resume, this is likely to cause a significant amount of stress for athletes.

If athletes struggle to cope with stress, over time it is likely to have a negative impact on their mental health, especially if they do not seek support or begin to take proactive measures to manage their well-being.

There are several successful psychological strategies which athletes can use to cope with stress or manage their mental health. These strategies may also be effective to help with the uncertainty caused by coronavirus:

Control the controllable(s):

  • Focus on what is within our control (e.g: exercising and training safely, seeing opportunities for personal development and growth, maintaining physical distancing but maintaining social interactions).
  • Accept that some sources of uncertainty are outside of our control (e.g: when sporting events will be resumed, when physical distancing restrictions will be lifted).
  • Accept that feelings associated with stress and anxiety are normal responses to uncertainty.
  • Maintain a sense of perspective (e.g: given the lockdown restrictions it may not be possible to maintain ‘typical’ levels of fitness).

Athletes tend to prefer ‘problem-focused’ coping strategies. However, this approach may not be effective if the source of stress is outside of our control. Therefore, we recommend that athletes prioritise strategies that cope with what is within their control and learn to accept what is outside of their control.

Focus on our responses to the uncertainty:

  • Practice deep breathing
  • Use relaxing imagery
  • Engage in mindfulness or meditation
  • Listen to music
  • Develop routines to connect with family, friends, team-mates or coaches about how our feelings
  • Write thoughts, feelings, and worries down regularly

When faced with sources of stress outside of our control, it is better to focus on regulating your emotions rather than the uncertainty itself.

Use helpful distractions:

  • Train or exercise (within social distancing guidelines)
  • Take a walk in a green space-where possible (this has been shown to reduce stress levels)
  • Take up a new hobby at home
  • Do an activity with members of your household
  • Watch television (but be wary of repeatedly watching too much Covid-19-related news stories)
  • Take part in a virtual quiz
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Avoid reminders of cancelled sporting events

Research has suggested that, when unable to compete and train with fellow athletes, distraction and avoidance can be an effective way of coping with stress for some sportspeople.

 2. Maintaining social connections

Covid-19 has resulted in great changes to the rhythm of daily life and to how we maintain social connections and have a sense of belonging. Athletes have a strong professional-identity; created, in part, from the time spent within the organisational structure of sport and socialising with other members.

Feeling connected with others and being part of groups that we perceive to be positive and meaningful is beneficial for our psychological health and well-being.

Therefore, it is important for athletes to consider how narrow or wide their social network is in terms of personal and professional relationships, and who they want and need to maintain communication with, within and outside sport:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Peers in sport
  • Coaching staff and management

By keeping communication channels open and by scheduling regular connections with key individuals or groups it will be easier to raise difficulties before they become more problematic.

Presently in our work with elite sports teams and individuals we have found the scheduling of online coffee chatrooms is an easy way to maintain communication along with sharing daily hassles and concerns, while also maintaining a sense of fun, and dressing room ‘banter’.

       3. Motivation and goal setting

Many sports people will have begun this year immersed and focused on high-performance goals that may have represented the culmination of years of dedication and commitment.

The impact of coronavirus and the cancellation and suspension of competitions and training means that these goals are no longer a daily presence and driving force; and for many, are now unobtainable this year.

The sudden loss of this opportunity to achieve our goals combined with isolation, restrictions on social movement, exercise and training can lead to significant mental health issues.

Adopting strategies and adjusting or re-engaging in alternative goals can improve well-being through increasing feelings of self-control.

Create a daily structure and alternative goals for well-being:

  • Creating new social networks and maintaining contact
  • Physical well-being, for example sleep patterns, nutrition and Pilates to name a few
  • Personal development such as learning a new skill, or taking up a hobby

Many athletes also find the use of a reflective diary as a useful and effective way to log their progress, but in the current situation such diaries can be used to disclose worries and anxieties.

The act of writing problems down can be an effective technique to help deal with worries and concerns.

Re-adjust and reframe goals

As athletes look to the future they may also want to think about taking some time to define or redefine mastery goals. Mastery goals are those that focus on self-improvement (getting better at a skill, having insight into why improvement occurred), they help maintain motivation and can provide a sense of purpose as we move into the new normal.

Importantly, when we are setting goals, whether these are to structure our day or mastery goals to aid us moving forward, we must remember to be realistic, use our support network to help achieve the goals and don’t be afraid to reach out to our social network for advice and feedback.

Ultimately, the COVID-19 lockdown is an uncertain and stressful time for many people including elite and professional sport performers. The ability to cope with stress, largely depends on our ability to have a flexible mindset along with engaging and adhering to some of the evidence-based principles above.

The present adversity may also offer some an opportunity for reflection and contemplation on work-life balance, life expectations, priorities, and goals.

*This blog was compiled by Dr Jamie Barker, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, Loughborough University and the Covid-19 Sport and Exercise Psychology Working Group on behalf of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

The breath can obstacle performances and well-being

You can perform any activity

to promote well-being and develop skills

to train and to compete

but

every motor, sport and mental action is regulated by our breath.

and if I breathe badly, I won’t get the results I train for.

The goals of this long training period

Recently I wrote a blog titled “Back to field, how the training without competition?” I said:

These are trying times in any professional field and even sport has had to stop in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.These first two months of lockdown at home have been really hard for those who are used to spend their days engaged in intense and prolonged training or to travel and participate in competitions. Who better spent this unique time in everyone’s life? Probably those who have managed to make sense of their days by recreating their habits and activities within the walls of their homes. For example, from Cristiano Ronaldo to the young junior athletes, to follow a program of physical preparation has been an important moment of their daily life, representing a bridge between yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Set goals. Having new goals is necessary, as this training period has been and will continue to be much longer than usual. Athletes should consider this period as an opportunity to continue to improve. Their goals will not change but the timing of these goals will have to be adapted to the lack of competition.

Be resilient and tough. Knowing how to adapt to this moment of their career is based on these two psychological skills, more than ever essential to maintain a high level of motivation during training. The speed and quality of adaptation will have a major impact on how they will behave in the future. Resilience and toughness with respect to how their competitors are reacting and coping. If they can adapt better than their opponents, then they will return better than before coronavirus period.

Use time wisely. There is much time now, much more than ever. It should be used as an opportunity to work on those skills that are usually more neglected or that they have not been able to work on. For example, the importance of breaks in one’s sport to recover physical and mental energy and refocus on the immediate future, develop attentional training and improve in managing one’s stress and negative moments.

Sharing. It is always important to have people with whom the athletes share their dreams and fears, goals and obstacles along the track, achievements and mistakes. Physical distance should not involve psychological distance from people who are important to athletes.

To find out more write to me!

Monday thoughts

Somewhere in a forest someone commented: “How strange civilians are. Everyone has watches and no one has time.” (Eduardo Galeano)

The slightest movement is important for all nature. The whole ocean is influenced by a pebble. (Blaise Pascal)

What we learn with pleasure we never forget. (Alfred Mercier)

 

This is the best moment to start a mental coaching program

This is the best moment to start a mental coaching program to improve your skills as an athlete to face your sporting career.

The reason lies in the specificity of this period, which requires a long training period, allowing you to dedicate more time to mental aspects, without being stressed by the closeness of competitions.
Such reflection also allows me to highlight how important it is for an athlete and his/her coach to know how to effectively manage the mental aspects of training.

Coaches often say that “in competition you have to repeat what you have learned in training”. This is echoed by the athletes when they say “I have done everything I had to do and I am ready to compete.”

If training is the decisive factor in the athlete’s career it means that motivation, concentration, toughness, fatigue management, confidence and optimism are psychological dimensions that must be optimized during each session, otherwise it will be very difficult to show them in competition.

The road to excellence is very hard and goes through a mentality aimed at continuous physical, technical-tactical and psychological improvement. None of these 3 aspects can be left aside.

Who is interested can contact me to receive further information and to do a mental coaching test.

Be the best and the winner: Michael Jordan dominant thought

In these days, after the conclusion of the beautiful series “The last Dance” we read articles about the exceptionality of Michael Jordan and also about his dominant thought of being the best. If you read this table, published in my book of 2004, you find the results of a research of 2001 where this psychological dimension and others are the ones that successful athletes show… so the important thing is to train in this way! Michael Jordan was the GOAT but this is track to become a winner.

Health habits must continue to be part of us

A year ago, we were talking to tennis girls about the athlete’s lifestyle. An important aspect in the construction of a junior athlete’s career to understand that beyond the training, the lifestyle influences the development and performance of the athlete.

This photo, now hanging on the wall of the Olympic Preparation Centre in Formia, Italy,  summarizes examples of the lives of great champions of 10 different sports.

Now our life is deeply changed but these habits continue to be true.

Back to field, how the training without competition?

These are trying times in any professional field and even sport has had to stop in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.These first two months of lockdown at home have been really hard for those who are used to spend their days engaged in intense and prolonged training or to travel and participate in competitions. Who better spent this unique time in everyone’s life? Probably those who have managed to make sense of their days by recreating their habits and activities within the walls of their homes. For example, from Cristiano Ronaldo to the young junior athletes, to follow a program of physical preparation has been an important moment of their daily life, representing a bridge between yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I have already written in other posts about the importance of mental training and watching videos of one’s own performances and those of other athletes. It was a different way of training, not simply doing “something”, to improve physically, mentally and from a technical-tactical point of view. The evaluation that I have taken from the information received by the athletes I work and mainly related to three sports (shooting, tennis and table tennis) is that having followed training programs at home in a regular and daily way has allowed to restart training on field in a very positive way and with a perception of fluidity and effectiveness of their technical and tactical actions.

Now opens the next phase, characterized by the restart of training on field but without the competitions, whose opening times will vary greatly in different disciplines. Starting from this total uncertainty about the opening to competitions, the athletes could train for a very long period, maybe even more than 100 days without participating in official competitions. This situation is also totally new and will have to be set up following a different approach from the usual one. A group of international experts working in contact with athletes preparing for the Olympics has highlighted an increase in problems related to sleep reduction, reduced appetite, increased fixed thoughts of worry, loneliness and fear that the current uncertainty could lead to the loss of the Olympic moment (Schinke et al., 2020).

In these cases, the consultation provided had the goal to listen to the athletes thoughts and feelings, encouraging them to express their fears, frustrations, before coming to prepare to provide solutions. Openness also meant encouraging a clear flow of communication between athletes and those who work with them in their sports organizations. This has served to strengthen relationships and unify the members of each team and to have constructive discussions. This openness has gone beyond working with mental performance consultants and it has also served to support the relationship with friends and family. Openness has meant much more than a sports-focused discussion, and it has extended to issues related to the basic human condition, such as healthy living, eating, sleeping and thinking about one’s life in global terms.

We live in a stormy time and certainly concerns about our human condition need to be listened to and oriented in a constructive way, and this is a role that sports psychologists have to play in relation to athletes, coaches and sports organizations. At the same time, there is another aspect of psychological counselling linked this time to training cycles. Today, which mental aspects should be trained, the same as always and in the same way or it would be more functional to this period to train mentally in a different way, devoting more time to the stabilization of skills to which less attention is usually paid (e.g., among the others breathing in the different moments of the training, pause management,  mindset at the beginning of the training, proprioceptive awareness, mind aspects of the warm-up), because most of the mental preparation is oriented to meet the needs of the competition calendar.