Archive for the 'Tiro a volo' Category

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Role of summer camp for young with intellectual disability

Summer camps for young people with intellectual disabilities always require responsibility, organization, and commitment from the organizers. As Integrated Soccer Academy, we concluded these two weeks of activities with satisfaction from the participants, their families, and ourselves. The young people participated in this 10-day, 50-hour experience in an environment that was not exactly favorable, given the high temperatures, playing soccer, but also padel and basketball, along with other seated games.

During this summer camp, the young people improve their ability to self-regulate; they drink and recover even outside the scheduled breaks. This means they are in touch with their physical sensations, and by listening to them, they choose when to stop rather than continue playing. This is one of the principles of our sports work with them: to develop physical and mental endurance. Therefore, playing outdoors, moving continuously during training, running, and improving motor coordination, kicking the ball, but also stopping and resting.

At the same time, the summer camp is an opportunity to further develop social relationships with peers and teachers. Experiencing a wide range of sports activities (motor tracks, basketball, and soccer) that involve the mind and body helping to build a sense of belonging to the group. The ample time available allows them to live through and resolve, with the help of sport instructors and psychologists, those small moments of tension that arise in any group during such intense and long-lasting activities.

Like the weekly training during the year, the summer camp also promotes the emotional stability and thinking of these young people, who interact continuously with adults and their friends during these hours. It is a continuous flow of physical sensations, moods, and thoughts that helps them stay focused on the games they play and keep the interaction with others alive.

In conclusion, summer camps are very demanding for them and for us too, but they represent an explosion of interactions otherwise impossible with this frequency and intensity.

10 reasons to play soccer for young with autism

Spalletti’s vague explanations

It’s difficult to talk about the mental aspects connected to the national football team’s performance in these European Championships. Luciano Spalletti’s interpretation of the loss against Spain, in which he said we lost because we “didn’t have legs” – essentially meaning the others were physically better prepared – and putting aside any other type of explanation, is an important example as it comes directly from the head coach.

We also know that the players play PlayStation to distract themselves and that someone even had their barber come for a haircut. At Coverciano, they listened to some champions who wore the number 10 jersey as mentors and, hopefully, sources of inspiration, but it doesn’t seem that this experience produced the expected result in terms of increasing motivation.

Based on my experience with teams, I am convinced that intensity of play, grit, and tenacity are the psychological dimensions that a team must demonstrate regardless of the type of game they want to implement. This requires an optimal fusion of physical and mental preparation, between the individual and the collective. Then, within this framework, game ideas can be inserted.

It is also true that for a coach, it is important to protect the team after negative performances, and therefore, generic explanations fully serve this purpose. I know it’s not possible, but I would cancel interviews with coaches after a defeat to avoid these unpleasant situations of lack of depth.

Sumer camps and autism

Summer is a time for summer camps for kids, and the first week is about to end for those at the Integrated Football Academy. We have a great group of 20 boys with intellectual disabilities, aged 10 to 20 years old. A well-organized summer camp led by experienced instructors and psychologists, supported by a doctor and a speech therapist, represents an intense and emotionally challenging experience.

It’s not just the heat that could affect their physical and mental state, making them experience a level of fatigue they have never felt before. Normally, the boys play football and basketball from 8:30 AM to 12:15 PM, after which they play board games until the camp concludes at 1:00 PM. During this time, there are numerous breaks for drinking, resting, and eating. We often wonder how it is possible that young people with autism, who do not train for more than 2-3 hours a week during the year, manage to train for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.

This result says a lot about how developed their physical and mental resilience is. Their good mood is proof that this commitment is appropriate for them. Playing contact team sports like football and basketball, they could commit fouls, react aggressively towards others, or sit on the bench due to excessive fatigue. However, these situations do not arise; the boys collaborate. It is true that occasionally someone gets angry over a wrong pass or a mistake, but they have been taught to avoid these behaviors and to apologize those rare times they are not correct.

These boys train with us all year round, and this helps guide them in this new experience. New, because in two weeks they train for 50 hours, which corresponds to the total hours spent during the sports year from October to June.

Boys with autism do not learn on their own; the team that guides them works with them all year and is primarily responsible for their way of experiencing the summer camp and the sporting and psychological learning they show on the field. Knowing them means understanding what they can do and what situations might cause them to have a crisis; this is, in a nutshell, the main role played by the team. This is one of the secrets why now, at the summer camp, they manage to be active for such a long and entirely new period for them.

Finally, a 20-year-old boy, with us for 9 years, is doing an internship during these two weeks to become an assistant instructor, a role that in the future could allow him to turn this current commitment into a job.

Now we are moving forward to organize the next sports season, the 10th year of our activity in the field of intellectual disability.

What to teach children

Mbappé against Le Pen

Kylian Mbappé has taken his position in the French political debate clearly, sharply, making it clear without equivocation which side he is on, and especially which side he would like France to be on: “I share Marcus’ values. We are still in a country where there is freedom of speech: he has expressed his opinion and I agree with him in everything. I hope, on July 7 (the day of the second round of the legislative, ed.), I can still be proud to wear the jersey of France.”

“We are at a crucial moment in the history of our country, it is an unprecedented situation. We must have a clear sense of our priorities: we are citizens, we must not remain disconnected from the world. I want to address the French people: we are a generation that can make a difference, extremisms are at the doorstep, we have a chance to choose the future of our country. I call on all young people to vote, to become aware of the importance of the situation. I hope my voice will serve, but the voice of every French person matters. On July 7, I hope I can still be proud to wear the jersey of France.”

“There are priorities. Tomorrow’s game is important, but there is a more important situation than tomorrow’s game, which we have prepared in the best possible way anyway. We should not be disconnected from the world and in any case we will be there to defend our country’s colors. But we are experiencing a different situation and we have to adapt.”

“As a team we thought about doing something. We talked a lot about the message we could give, also to protect the younger ones: it’s difficult for them to come here and express themselves in front of journalists and take a stand on an issue they don’t fully master. We wanted to protect these kids, who don’t give the impression that they give a damn at all. Nobody gives a damn within the team.”


ISSP Master Class: Paul Wylleman

Championing Wellbeing: The New and Crucial Role of Sport Psychologists 

as Welfare and Safeguard Officers at the Olympic Games 

DATE: Thursday, June 18th, 2024

Speakers: Prof. Paul Wylleman

Length of Session: 90 minutes (60-minute lecture, 30-minute Q&A)

Language: English (Translated live captioning available)

Time: 12:00 UTC (New York 8:00, Belo Horizonte, 9:00, Beijing 20:00, Seoul 21:00, Sydney 22:00)

Recordings: Available for 60 days after the lecture

Program Overview 

Over the past decade, the role of sport psychology has gained significance in the world of elite sport in general, and at the Olympic level in particular. During this presentation, Prof. Wylleman will provide insight into how athletes’ well-being became a clear point of focus and action for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees (NOC), and national elite sport organizations and how this impacted the role of sport psychologists during the Olympic Games. Reflecting on his role as the head psychologist of the Olympic Committee of the Netherlands and as the team psychologist for TeamNL at the 2016 Rio and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Prof. Wylleman will illustrate how, from a psychological perspective, specific initiatives and actions were taken to support the well-being in general, and in particular the mental health of athletes, coaches and support staff. Contextualized in the role and competence of sport and clinical sport psychologist, Prof. Wylleman will offer an insight into the role, competence and implementation of the accredited position of the ‘NOC Welfare Officer’ and of the Safeguarding Officer in Olympic delegations. After its introduction at the 2022 Being Olympic Games, both functions will now be explicitly present at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. As sport psychologists are now being asked to take on the role of NOC Welfare Officer and/or Safeguarding Officer in their own national Olympic team, Prof. Wylleman will focus on the requirements, tasks and roles of both positions, as well as on the possible challenges faced by psychologists when taking on these roles. While illustrating Team Belgium’s approach in view of the forthcoming 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Prof. Wylleman will describe his role as team psychologist and NOC Welfare Officer, the strategies implemented to meet the role requirements and the potential challenges associated with the roles. In conclusion, Prof. Wylleman will formulate recommendations on how sport psychologists may optimize their functioning as NOC Welfare Officers or Safeguarding Officers, or on how they could effectively collaborate with one or both during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Furthermore, looking forward to the 2026 Milano-Cortina and 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games, some reflections will be shared on how the emphasis on welfare and safeguarding at the Olympic level may impact the field of sport psychology in general and the development and functioning of sport psychologists in particular.

About the Speakers 

Paul Wylleman, Ph.D. Psychology, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and full professor of Sport Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His teaching, research, and publications focus on a holistic and lifespan perspective on career development, psychological competencies, mental health and well-being, and interdisciplinary support provision in elite and Olympic sport. Prof. Wylleman heads the university’s dual career department Topsport and Study, the research group Sport Psychology and Mental Support as well as the Brussels Olympic Research and Education Centre (BOREC). Prof. Wylleman is past-President of the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC; 2007-2015), the 2017 Distinguished International Scholar of the Applied Association of Sport Psychology (AASP, USA) and Visiting Professor at Loughborough University (UK). From 2014 to 2022, Prof. Wylleman was head psychologist of the Olympic Committee of the Netherlands (NOC*NSF) as well as team psychologist for TeamNL at the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Prof. Wylleman is now expert Psychology with the Belgian Interfederal and Olympic Committee (BOIC) and is team psychologist and Welfare Officer with Team Belgium at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Prof. Wylleman advises national Olympic Committees and national elite sport organizations on the role and functioning of psychologists and psychology-support provision in elite sport and at the Olympic Games.

Jannik Sinner: the meaning to be no.1

Starting from 1973, Jannik Sinner is the 29th tennis player to reach the top of the world rankings. In 50 years, before him, only 28 players have achieved this milestone.

Thus, not only is he currently the best, but he also belongs to an exclusive club of players who have managed this feat. His idol is Roger Federer, but he has studied Valentino Rossi and Alberto Tomba to understand how to achieve such top-level results. It’s like climbing Everest without oxygen; only a few can endure the challenges of this endeavor, turning doubts and fears into objects of their improvement rather than nightmares to escape from.

Sinner appears happy, and many wonder how he manages to stay so focused on learning and improving, as if this attitude were exaggerated. Positive psychology helps explain this approach, suggesting that one aspect of personal well-being involves leading an engaged life. It pertains to the well-being derived from engaging in rewarding activities and realizing personal potential. This means living experiences fully centered on the present, focused on what interests and pleases. Thinking about the immediate future does not generate negative tension since it accepts the fear of not succeeding. He has been injured and chose to skip the Italian Open to heal; he aimed to at least reach the finals at the French Open but didn’t make it. His secret is to think one step at a time, dream big like winning the Olympics, but think small, like the next tournament in Halle: “I have always thought one step at a time: I wanted the first point to enter the ATP rankings, then I imagined entering the top hundred and so on. I have always set a small goal to take a step forward. And this, in my opinion, has been the key to where we are today.”

Many tennis players, on the other hand, are dominated by another concept, positive for spending free time but hindering success in sports life. It’s the idea of wanting to lead a pleasant life, dominated by experiencing positive emotions and pleasant sensations. It’s the eternal struggle between the momentary well-being from achieving immediate results and the well-being obtained by pursuing a goal that goes beyond the individual, connecting them with all those who have walked the same path before them. To confirm this, the ATP has made a video in which previous number 1 players in tennis address Sinner not only to honor him but to thank him for what he does for tennis.

Mental fundamentals to become a champion

Coaches of team sports, despite their differences, share some common thoughts regarding the mental characteristics of their teams.

Desire to act and take risks – Dreams and goals are important, but without concrete actions, they remain empty. Having a vision and taking steps to achieve these goals will help you find success in everything you do. Many teams never develop their full potential. This gap is bridged when goals are pursued through appropriate actions. Even champions feel fear, but they stand out because they are willing to take risks and put themselves in the position to make the winning move. They are willing to challenge themselves, step out of their comfort zone, and see how much they can improve every day.

Always wanting to learn – Recently, I read a story about John Wooden, who in the later years of his life, as he was losing some of his physical and mental abilities, said: “I still enjoy reading and I will continue to learn and grow for as long as I live. Whatever my abilities are, I want to wake up every day and do my best. I can’t do that if I don’t continue to grow and learn.” Let’s learn from him to challenge ourselves to grow. If you are not improving, you are getting worse. You never just stand still. Champions are always learning and growing.

Accepting responsibility – Being able to accept responsibility for your own mistakes allows you to grow. Those who play the “blame game” will never reach the top and become true champions. Champions do not blame others – they understand that we all make mistakes, humbly accept them, and work to overcome them by improving themselves.

Live in the moment

Karch Kiraly the greatest volleyball player who ever lived was once asked by a fan “How did you prepare for the Olympic Gold Medal?”  Karch’s answer was beautiful.  He simply said,  “I did not prepare for the gold medal, I always prepared for the next point.”.  To become a champion in whatever you are doing you need to stay in the moment.  I once had an athlete that I coached a Pepperdine, who was one of the best pure athletes I have ever worked with.  He never really went as far as he could have gone as an athlete.  Why?

This particular player could not let go of the last play.  He would make a mistake and then he would be stuck thinking about the mistake (a bad pass, or a missed shot) and then this would impact the next play.  He would usually get worse and worse as the game went on.  He could not stay in the moment.  Do you carry baggage around from mistakes in the past?  Or have you learned to use those mistakes as learning opportunities that you can use in the present.  Staying in the moment will help you to become the champion that is inside you.

By Terry Schroeder,  Former USA water polo team coach

Starting from this point, repetition is essential to live in the moment establishing new habits. A crucial aspect of achieving goals is to include measurable behaviors, activities that can be performed daily. It is useful to adopt a simple performance evaluation system to verify the achievement of daily objectives.

These daily goals can include activities such as drinking a specific amount of water, doing a short yoga or mindfulness session every day, pushing past one’s limits when tired, or any other healthy habit.