Archive for the 'Tennis' Category

Peacefulness to cope with the competition difficulties

Working with athletes from different sports disciplines like shooting, diving, walking and fencing in the days before the race, leads me to think that the peacefulness (serenity) is for them an important factor to compete at their best. I don’t consider peacefulness synonymous with being calm. Is, in my opinion, being aware of:

  • possess the necessary skills to compete this time at the best
  • be ready to face with the many difficulties of the race
  • get into difficulty and get out with success thanks to training and past experiences
  • have acquired the ability to just live the present moment and not the immediate future

In this sense, the race has to be understood as a succession of instants that run continuously until the end of the performance, but the concentration is always on the present task, not in the past, not in the future.

For all of us there is a lot to think on these issues being spoken too little, sometimes too busy to teach only the psychological techniques to deal with the competitions.

The Summer Schools in sport psychology are a great reality

The  Summer School in sport and exercise psychology, like this to take place in Ireland, are becoming a great reality. This shows that our discipline is booming. Find them on the web using as keywords: summer school, sport psychology.

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

Youth sport and the coach training

Il Seminario offrirà una panoramica delle più recenti ricerche nel campo dell’allenamento dei giovani atleti. In modo particolare verranno illustrati due modelli utilizzati per favorire un maggiore coinvolgimento ed assicurare il massimo impegno dei giovani nelle attività sportive: il Personal Assets Framework (PAF) e il Developmental Model of Sport Participation (DMSP).
Proprio quest’ultimo Modello, che mira allo sviluppo dei tre obiettivi tipici dei programmi per le attività giovanili, ossia Prestazione, Partecipazione e Sviluppo Personale, sarà protagonista del prossimo numero della Rivista della Scuola dello Sport con un approfondito Articolo.
Durante la giornata, si analizzeranno le tre componenti fondamentali di questi Modelli: le caratteristiche delle attività da svolgere, le competenze gli allenatori ed il contesto operativo.

Riguardo la formazione degli allenatori, verrà indicata come utile una prospettiva che metta al centro le relazioni interpersonali come strumento necessario per sostenere una partecipazione a lungo termine da parte degli allievi.

Il Relatore principale del Seminario è il Prof. Jean Cotè della Queen’s University di Kingston (Canada), il quale, per mezzo dello “Sport Psychology PLAYS Research Group”, da lui fondato e finanziato tra gli altri anche dalla English Football Association, svolge costante attività di ricerca sui fattori psicosociali che influenzano la performance e la partecipazione nell’attività sportiva, con particolare attenzione al contesto giovanile.
Il Docente rappresenta sicuramente un punto di riferimento in campo Internazionale per tutti gli studiosi ed i tecnici che si occupano di allenamento giovanile e della formazione degli allenatori.

The coaches have to be able to assess their professional experiences

A key factor for the improvement of the work of the coaches is the ability to evaluate their professional experience, with particular emphasis on the interactions with the athletes or team in training and in competition. The coaches must evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the work done, the reactions of the athletes and the difficulties and the solutions proposed.

This task must be carried out continuously over time, focusing on what happens during the workout and in competition.It is, therefore, not an episodic activity that takes place because they have to solve a problem, but it must be planned as an activity should be part of the usual way of doing things. In this sense, the coaches are facilitators, since they encourage the creation of a suitable climate to carry out training, developing the athletes’ competitiveness and their winning mentality. The coaches have to think to their professional experiences and need to be aware of:

  1. the decisions they take,
  2. the parameters that will enable to know that the training has been effective,
  3. the expectations about their athletes in connection with the training/competitions they perform,
  4. the difficulties they may face and the solutions to be adopted,
  5. how to deal with the competitions and how to evaluate the results,
  6. the plan to deal with unforeseen and unexpected events,
  7. what makes a successful or unsuccessful  season,
  8. how they might handle the tough times that will inevitably arise,
  9. how to face with the stress related to their profession,
  10. how they work with the staff and the management.

A common bias: the warmup is useful to avoid the injuries

There’s a lot of confusion among athletes in relation to the warmup function.

For some is practiced to avoid getting hurt.

For others it’s something to do well just before the races, but during the training they do not do ever in that way.

For almost everyone it’s a rather boring phase in which to prepare to start very well the competition.

It is often regarded like a school homework and it’s performed without conviction and with a reduced mental effort.

For example, almost no guy gets exhaling during the stretching. Let us remember that the first determines the later. Then bad stretching corresponds to a limited elongation and reduced muscle distension, with all the negative consequences coming if this kind of execution is repeated over time.

Federer: to win he said “don’t mess it up”

I often talk with young tennis players of the importance to lead themselves during the matches. Most of them uses too often complicated thoughts and want to show brilliant shots. In my opinion, this thoughts prevents being concrete and do simple things, waiting for the right moment to close the point.

Everyone talk about Federer exceptional tennis but rarely pointed out that the mental approach to the game comes before very other thing.

In this interview, instead, the same Federer remind us about the importance of the mental attitude. These sentences clearly highlight this approach, when he says that in the fourth set his mind was wandering too much and then he tells himself: “Don’t mess it up.”

So first of all, we need to support ourselves and then let’s focus on every point.

“The problem in the fourth set was that my mind was all over the place,” Federer told Australia’s Seven Network. “I was so close and I was telling myself, ‘Don’t mess it up,’ and then that’s exactly what I did. I got a bit lucky at the beginning of the fifth set. I personally don’t think I would have come back if he’d broken me first.”

Tennis: the mental approach to the match

One of the main reasons because so many young people who want to pursue a tennis career instead undergo continuous failures lies, in my opinion, in their excessive expectations and the desire to show off a brilliant style of play that they are not able to support. Federica Brignone, bronze medal  in the giant at these Winter Olympics, said that it’s needed “work and mental strength.” Unlike, be prisoners of the expectations and focused on brilliant play are exactly the opposite, because they distract the players from what has to be performed during each point.

Expectations - They are destructive. On one side is too trivial to remember that you want to win the match, because we assume that no one starts a match with the goal of losing it. This idea should remain in the background of one’s mind, if not out, since it does not help the young to be focused only on the next point. For the young tennis players, the first thing to learn is that there is just the next point to play and they must be prepared to play it according to the match momentum. Think beyond that point means to remove concentration and determination in the present and put it in the foreseeable future that cannot be controlled, because at the moment it does not exist.

The play - Many young people are focused on the play and when you ask them how many times they have achieved this strategy, they respond that only rarely they were able to follow it, even just for the duration of one set. In my opinion, they fail because they start from a wrong assumption. To show a play style is a point of arrival and not of departure, it will be achieved through a mental journey which they are not yet able to support. Furthermore, to think about the match is an abstract concept, they need to be focused on the specific actions that, instead, should make in trouble their opponents. So, really, the players think too much and in a global way and they are not oriented to how to perform the next step.

Roberta Vinci in the match won against Serena Williams, said her thinking about the game was: “Run and throw it in there.” What do these words mean?

Run - Put in evidence you need to be fast and this physical readiness starts from the mental readiness, which triggers the reaction. This behavior happens in receiving when you are on the front of your feet ready to shoot forward and in the continuous “hopping” showed by the  champions also during the warmup. Tennis requires to be fast and, typically, this is lost when we are losing, the speed slows down we get depressed and the mistakes grow up.

Throw it over there – It means to play a deep ball without running excessive risks, waiting for the opponent mistake or the right moment to close the point. This approach to the match highlights the personal toughness in pursuing the own goals, maintaining the control of the game. Otherwise the tennis players may tend to slow down too much the play rhythm or to speed up the game, looking for brilliant shots to quickly close the point.

Then the match is a continuous succession among these moments:

  1. be fast
  2. to hit the ball that
  3. must be deep and
  4. play with the opponent at least 4/5  shots to make the point, and
  5. use the breaks to relax and
  6. refocus on next point
  7. to be fast again …


The tactics in sports

The tactic is a key factor of success in many sports, not just team sports. In summary, it’s to do the right thing at the right time and therefore requires timing, precision, awareness and quickness. They are skills that athletes must develop, otherwise they will probably perform doing the right thing at the wrong time or even they choked because dominated by performance anxiety.

The tactic consists of a set of factors that lead to sports action:

  • Have specific and achievable performance goals, adapted to the situational demands of the competition.
  • Know your skills and expertise, knowing the odds of success and risk.
  • Develop the situational awareness, perceive and analyze situations, choose between alternatives and use the personal insights.
  • Quickly change the action plan, if it does not produced the effects expected.
  • Act supported by thoughts and emotions.