Tag Archive for 'abilità'

The fundamental psychological skills

Identifying basic psychological skills is a daunting task that only a few researchers have approached. Research results on this topic are scarce, and there is not complete agreement on what basic psychological skills are.

Based on this analysis, I decided to establish an a priori criterion that would allow their identification. The criterion adopted is that the basic skills to be developed are those that have the widest scope of application during sporting activity regardless of the sport practiced and the level of mastery of the athlete, and that can be learned and improved during that stage of development called “training to train.” There are four psychological skills chosen and they concern: self-control, mental imagination, talking to oneself and learning from experience. They can be considered fundamental skills since they enable the young person to experience training in a conscious and positive way.


Abilità psicologiche di base

Vealey (1988) Volontà, consapevolezza di sé, autostima e fiducia
Hardy, Graham e Gould (1996) Goal setting, rilassamento, immaginazione mentale e dialogo con se stessi
Durand-Bush, Salmela e Green-Deemers (2001) Goal setting, impegno e fiducia
Ricvald, e Peterson (2003) Impegno e dedizione
Weinberg e Gould (2007) Regolazione dell’attivazione, immaginazione mentale, goal setting e concentrazione.


The acquisition of these skills is analogous, for example, to knowledge of a foreign language, which can also be prefigured as a basic skill that expands opportunities for communication and understanding of the world regardless of the domain in which the individual will apply it. The choice to identify these four psychological skills as basic factors is largely coincident with what has been proposed by Hardy, Graham and Gould (1996) from which it differs in that it does not consider goal setting but rather the ability to learn from experience as a priority competence. The choice to introduce another competency is due to the reason that the skills proposed here are to be acquired in an age range corresponding to late childhood and early adolescence, years in which understanding the value of experience is basic to being aware of the quality of one’s engagement and how one learns. Further supporting this are the numerous data showing that underlying the belief that one knows how to cope with sporting situations is the evaluation of one’s past experiences in relation to that task.



Mind skills in gymnastic over 14

  • Routine: Total command of the routine, regardless of competitive environment and situation.
  • Recovery: Focus on recovery and regeneration strategies
  • Mental skills: Imagery, concentration, emotional control, positive self-talk and relaxation, self-regulation, adaptive perfectionism and self-confidence
  • Team: Team competitive events bring different pressures, and require development and management of team work skills
  • Media: Managing interviews and media events
  • Training: Managing distractions and interruptions in training, while maintaining peak performance over the long term
  • Coach: Takes a stronger role in decision-making, working in partnership with the coach
  • Ethics: relating to competition and social maturity
  • Life: Balance through outside interests and friends, education
(Source: Adapted from http://www.gymcan.org/uploads/gcg_ltad_en.pdf)

Toughness makes the difference between winners and losers

I was asked what is the decisive psychological characteristic for an athlete. My idea is that there are many skills that must be developed from the basic ones (self-control, imagery, constructive self-talk and learn from experience) to advanced covering such as stress management and the attention training to those relating to the lifestyle of the athlete.

But what makes the difference between winners and losers? Their reaction to competitive pressure, challenges and mistakes.

The psychological ability that emerges in these moments is the toughness; we can even call it perseverance, grit or resilience. Basically it means to compete or train at the best even after an error occurs, when tired, in times of greatest stress, when aware that you must do absolutely the best.

If they are not supported by toughness the other psychological skills will get worse. An athlete can have a good self-talk  but in decisive moments if not supported by toughness, his/her self-talk can become negative. An athlete knows what to look for and how to adapt him/herself to the race situations, but faced with an unexpected can lose this ability, if it’s not supported by the toughness, which is the conviction to be able to compete at the best in these moments too.

Therefore the question is: how and how often is trained this skill?

Children have to practice different sports

Skill + motivation + attitude = success

Skill is what you’re capable of doing.

Motivation determines what you do.

Attitude determines how well you do it.

(Lou Holtz)

and remember:

Goal of psychological counseling in top sport

  • Developing/improving athlete psychological skills to cope with the races
  • Psychological assessment of the athletes
  • Advice for coaches on specific issues of interest to them
  • Solutions for individual athletes problems that coaches no longer know how to cope
  • Collaboration in the management of the group outside workout
  • Psychological counseling to athletes and coaches during competition
  • Competitive stress management of athletes, coaches and staff
  • Athlete wellbeing improvement and management extra-sport life

New fields of mental coaching

The mental aspect of sport is not only related on technical or tactical training. This aspect is only part although important. I would say that the first aspect of the mental coaching concerns the implementation of the daily life of an athlete, and then his/her daily lifestyle. Nutrition, sleep, friends and family are significant aspects of the success. In many sports, for example, weight control is an essential aspect  of the performance and live in a conscious and positive these aspects increases the athlete well-being. Research conducted by the United States Olympic Committee found that family and friends are needed for success as they provide economic support, encouragement and emotional stability. The second aspect refers to the mental component of fitness. Feeling fit and ready to face any situation of their athletic performance is an essential part of self-confidence and viceversa. In fact, the motivation and the mental capacity to resist effectively to physical fatigue and exercise intensity promote the quality of the training sessions. Moreover, in many sports you should develop abilities not depending of other technical skills and who are however crucial to determine the result. I think the serve in volleyball and tennis, free throws in basketball, penalties in football, kicks in rugby, start in motor sports or sailing. These situations need to be trained mentally with accuracy.

Do you coach yourself to compete?

When the young athletes have acquired the technical skills required by the sport they enjoy and have become skilled in the execution of specific sport actions, it becomes important to train them to compete. These are the goals of the coaching that takes place from 16 years for most of the sports and that will lead some to become world-class athletes. One should not confuse the acquired skill with the ability to provide an adequate performance at their own level. Indeed, it’s not difficult to meet young teenagers capable, good from a technical standpoint but not ready to compete. For this reason a part of the training, that with the increase of age will become more significant and wide should be dedicated to achieve the purpose of teaching the athlete to give their best in terms of comparison with other athletes. The coaches should not be afraid to acknowledge that this is an essential goal of their work and the practice must be oriented in this direction. This type of training is intended to teach the athletes to maintain the quality of their performance under the competitive pressure.

Mistakes can be as allies

Those who want to improve in any business should be aware that if they want to achieve this goal, they should definitely learn from mistakes. It’s a phrase that it’s often repeated by those who are responsible for the training of young, but seldom they explain how to do and more often I have heard from a coach: “You never learn.” The athletes have two important allies : their skills  and the errorsthey commits, both are extremely significant for the improvement .

Everyone is convinced that the skills of the young athletes represent their strengths, skills that are showed in each field where they train or compete .

But mistakes can be regarded as allies?

Of course they are! As mistakes are the only way to train yourself to get out of troubles and to coach attention and emotions to remain positively oriented success even in those moments.

The young male and female athletes need to be mentally trained to take this attitude, without which they cannot develop their full potential.

Learn from mistakes: teach it to coaches

How difficult is to learn from mistakes!  It’s the key to success but for many ie is instead a swamp in which to sink more and more under this weight. With ease we think “I should not make mistakes” instead of “What do I do to recover.” It ‘s true that many of us have learned as young  in this way, as they say you have thrown into the sea and those who have learned to swim went ahead, while the others perished. But how many boys/girls in this way have hated the sport, have become not confident toward themselves and probable talents are lost without having the opportunity to test themselves. The question is to understand if we want to continue in this way or if we want to train better trained the coaches from the point of view of their psychological and relational skills, only in a second time we can see who/how many are those athletes who, despite adequate psychological approach by the coaches, need to be oriented towards a recreational and non-competitive sport.