Tag Archive for 'allenatori'

In the pitch with the young players with enthusiasm and curiosity

The young players called in Italian football pulcini are the second category of the football school in order of age and include children aged 8 to 10 years. Very often coaches are extremely satisfacted of them, emphasizing the interest and enthusiasm that at this age children showt on the pitch. The satisfaction of the coaches is explained by the evolutionary moment that children of this age live. They live a break in their evolutionary process, they become masters of their body and their mental faculties, becoming aware of themselves, helped by a better definition of the body schema and also by a better level of sociability. All these features put your child away from the continuous self-discovery typical of the previous stage and still far from the confused adolescent storm. It is this that makes it possible to define the young players of this age as more coachable of the football school. This definition, however, does not delete the difficulties that can be encountered in the group management. Beyond the technical and tactical dimensions is important, as always, to know the psychological dynamics belonging to this age group and also the most effective communication style to be used with these young players. Here are some ideas about what to do when we are working with them.

What To Do:

  • Engage constantly reducing at the minimum the pauses and waits
  • Build their psychological autonomy (means to know how to solve problems)
  • Propose exercises in which they must take decisions
  • Reinforce not only the correctness of the choices, but the ability to make choices
  • Promote the ability to take calculated risks
  • Insert in training exercises teaching to maintain a balance between individual risk and collective game
  • Lead to internalize the rules of the group
  • Teaching to work in a competitive environment
  • Structuring training with the aim to promote collaboration
  • Decrease the individualism (at this age tend to feed itself: you do so, then, me too)
  • Help them to assess what attitude or situation determine the mistakes even through personal examples

Knowing how to handle the young players means, not only to develop their technical and tactical skills, but also to support their enthusiasm and curiosity.

(by Daniela Sepio)

Be critic: it’s to easy destroy, it’s difficult to build

The past week I met  the various faces of youth football: coaches, managers and parents.

What I often notice is  the desire of each of these categories to act out of their responsibilities, preferring to misrepresent the other roles, avoiding reflection on themselves and on their ability to change.

Parents, coaches and managers are blaming each other in a game with no winners.
I am very impressed that most of the talks turn into destructive criticism most often taken to hide the responsibilities, rather than to suggest healthy changes.
Constructive critic is a complex skill that includes empathy, communication skills, willingness to listen, managing their emotions and motivation to change. They are skills needed in sports and education to: express thoughts and ideas, identify the feelings, define and respect the individual and other limits, communicate and listen.

The role of educators toward the children implies the ability to assess and  intervene on the mistakes made by others but also, and above all, to be able to highlight and corrects their own mistakes.
Constructive criticism, properly used, is used to improve performance, relationships, and, in general, the sense of efficacy of the various actors in the field for the education of children.
Make constructive critic means to  understand the reality  starting from own knowledge, listening carefully people and facts, accepting contradictory, trying to reach an assessment oriented to the good of the child. One of the deeper reasons for the conflict is not being able to make or accept critics. It is important to learn that our values and our personal opinions are not in danger when they are disputed but rather often reinforce.

How can we recognize a destructive criticism by a constructive critic?

The destructive criticism:

  • It is addressed to the person, which is labeled negatively
  • It is inaccurate
  • Aims to blame the person
  • Tends to close the dialog

The constructive critic:

  • It’s addressed to the performance or behavior of the person.
  • It’s given the opportunity to understand what are the behaviors to change
  • It’s specific and provides tips
  • It’s oriented to improve the performance and  behavior
  • Maintains open dialogue and conveys confidence

We should make a long conscience examination before thinking to criticize others” (Molière)

(by Daniela Sepio)

Main issues of youth programs

Following UK coaches and Canadian Sports Center these are the main issues in youth sport:

  • Young athletes under-train, over-compete.
  • Low training to competition ratios in early years.
  • Adult competition superimposed on young athletes.
  • Adult training programmes superimposed on young athletes.
  • Male programmes superimposed on females.
  • Training in early years focuses on outcomes (winning) rather than processes (optimal training).
  • Chronological age dominates training rather than biological age.
  • Under development between 6-16 years cannot be fully overcome (athletes will never reach genetic potential).
  • The best coaches are encouraged to work at elite level.
  • Coach/Teacher education tends to skim the growth, development and maturation of young people.

What do you want for you? 4 questions to know it

Three questions are important for those who want to get the best from themselves.

  • What have I done so far to get the best of me?
  • What am I willing to do to improve the most?
  • What do I want to do tomorrow to start to do my best?
  • What frustrations am I willing to accept?

These questions are important for everyone. If you are a coach are useful to know you better and to guide you in the profession. If you are an athlete are helpful to take your life in your hands and decide if you want to succeed and how much you want to challenge you to get it. If you are a professional (psychologist, doctor, physiotherapist, manager) are useful to know what the sport represents for you; a hobby or an essential part of self-realization as a person and how much you’re willing to live in a state of continuous improvement.

Pygmalion Effect: the bias damage & trust benefits

A lot of coaches have children a little bit slower to learn than the others, perhaps less dynamics and less coordinated. How they are treated by the coach and teammates? He is given them the same opportunities of the others?
In psychology  have been carried out studies on what it’s called the “Pygmalion Effect” resulting from the reserches about the self-fulfilling prophecy. The underlying assumption of these studies is easily applicable to the field of sport learning: if the coach believes that a child is not able as the others, even unknowingly, he may be will coach him differently from the others; the child internalize the judgment and act accordingly; consequently establishing a vicious circle in which the child will tend over time to become just like her coach had imagined. In practical terms, we can say that often the lack of confidence in the ability of the children learning blocks the learning itself and pushes the children to satisfy their coach getting exactly what she expects, the prophecy comes true.

We can imagine the kind of result that this coach attitude may have on the children development.
Children motor development, but also their psychological development is constantly changing and a moment of stasis may be followed by others of fast change. The Pygmalion Effect when linked to a negative judgment binds the children progresses to the judgment of their teachers. This behavior is attributed to the fact that the children act the behavior elicited by the adult expectations: therefore low expectations solicitate low learning results.

If you accept the notion that acoach will face a clear idea of the athletes according to this pre-judgment, it’s easy to understand the relevance of the prophecies and positive expectations about the success of the children within their learning process. Coaches having positive expectations of their students can, in turn, create a  warmer socio-emotional climate around them, provide more feedback about the quality of their sessions, they seem to give more information and expect better results in addition to giving more opportunities for questions and answers. According to the Rosenthal’s observations, the teachers who believe they have good students in front of them smile more often, they make approval movements with the head, stopping over them looking longer in the eyes, they speak with a positive body language. They are more likely to praise and correct errors without taking a critical stance. “In essence, a professor who believes he has to do with gifted students teaches more and better” (Rosenthal, 1976).

Understanding the Pygmalion Effect in its negative and positive aspects allows us to understand the importance of the dynamic effect of trust in the development of the children full potential. Trust is a very important part in our lives, it’s a means by which we can enrich our lives and the lives of others. The lack of confidence, to the contrary, produces frustration and paralysis.

Trust is able to open up a world of endless possibilities.

(by Daniela Sepio)

Have you 15 minutes to change

Often an obstacle to change is represented by the conviction to have no sufficient time available to change. The athletes often answer in this way but also their coaches, who usually do not spend time for psychological preparation, because they think to  have already too many things to do. Once time to answer these objections I did long explanations about the importance of psychology and the efficient use of the mind. Then I found out that this answers had the only effect to reinforce the beliefs of my interlocutors, who continued to believe that they do not have time. At this point, I changed my approach. I started to respond by asking them if they had 15 minutes a day to devote to something else that was not the physical  and technical training. Of course they all said yes, and on the basis of this positive response was easier for me to explain how to organize a mental workout in that short period of time.

The soccer school organization: team Ah and team B

Today too often we speak of attorneys for children under 10 years, selection and research in the soccer schools  of the perfect … but we are not talk about premiere league. I speak instead of children soccer where is frequent the subdivision into Team A and Team B . What does it mean?

The answer, unfortunately, is universally recognized: the best and the not so good.

The adjective good is already generic and superficial, and if it’s aimed at children aged 6 to 10 years who are at their first steps into the world of football becomes meaningless.

I realized over time that the adjective good for coaches include: the better children “at the moment”: faster, without behavioral problems, easy to manage, and preferably  with some attitudes of adult soccer (fall on fouls, cheer pulling up her shirt, and so on). These characteristics lead to the breakdown of the teams? And what is left out of this argument? It stays out of the consideration the learning among peer, it stay out any concept related to the inclusion, it remains out any thought related to the development and change, it lacks any future prospect for the benefit of “all and now”. That “all and now” is the victory.
European research shows that almost 70% of children who started one sport at early school age (5-6 years), leaves it within 12-13 years of age. Investigations carried out to understand the origin of abandonment report that children who leave have the belief “not being good enough.”

Once again, the adult world breaks down barriers in the world of children taking ownership of their language and convincing the small players that they are not good. In this case the error of the coaches is to fall shattered their personal expectations and their management difficulties on the small players, depriving them of the chance to live this opportunity.

The use of the adjective “good” points out  the lack of competence of those who use this language by choosing the easy way as a coach and the little benefit for each child. Unfortunately in youth soccer lacks a long-term project and the clubs do not accept the difficulties of today for the benefit of tomorrow. It is often ignored the importance of learning among peers and also the chidren advantages to have heterogeneous groups, in favor of the construction of homogeneous groups based on the skills possessed at the time. The choice of the homogeneity hides a selfish choice and deprives children of enrichment resulting from their differences.
“What children can do together today, tomorrow will do by yourself “(Vygotsky).

(by Daniela Sepio)

How to motivate ourselves

The US track&field Michael Johnson, who won five gold medals at the Olympics and eight-time world champion, summed up the importance of motivation:

“My best motivation has always come from the pure joy of running and racing, it’s the same thrill that I had as a child of 10 years. Have you ever met a 10 year old child sickened by what he does? You have to find your own initial motivation. This is the secret of perseverance. ”

Sport activities should allow the emergence of an attitude that can be summed up in the following sentence:

“It’s thanks to my commitment and the pleasure I feel that I become more and more skilled at what I do.”

The activities motivated by an inner strength are based on the subjective perception of satisfaction coming from performing a specific task.

On the contrary, any external intervention in the athlete tending to reduce this inner awareness will negatively affect the motivation. It happens when an athlete performs only to receive material rewards (winning a trophy, money) or recognition from others (“I do it for my parents or for the coach who will be so happy or because I will be more admired by my fellow”). Sport performance  becomes only a means to achieve another purpose that becomes, instead, the true purpose of the action: the young is not acting for the pleasure it provides sport but to receive a certain recognition. Therefore, the external reinforcements encouraging the athlete to perform for external reasons will reduce the internal motivation.

The coaches should not make use of reinforcements perceived by the athletes as most important than their performances, but they should provide useful suggestions to increase the feeling of satisfaction to perform at their best.

Sport results that are perceived to be the result of internal personal factors, such as the ability, dedication, commitment rather than external factors (luck, reduced ability of opponents, referees’ decisions) are associated with satisfaction feelings and pride.

The motivators are the forgers of mental coaching

The motivators and mental coaches without a degree in psychology are spreading in the sport as well as in business. They are people who are involved in these worlds by leveraging on the need for success. Winning is, today, the only thing that counts and too many athletes are duped by people who like change strategies based on the insults or make them walk on hot coals, as if it was an event needed to believe in himself. Unfortunately, some of these motivators are successful, because sport organizations (Olympic Committee, clubs and sport associations) do not do anything to help the athletes and coaches to choose. In fact, sometimes these organizations are glad to this autonomy of the athletes, because in this way they save money and they have not to face the problem of choosing a professional who should also to pay.

The starting point of this reflection came from an interview with the motivator of football player Bonucci (reported by a connoisseur of the sport and of the human soul which is Gianni Mura with the article “The garlic motivates Bonucci but the breath does not make the monk “in which he talked how he worked with him. Everything would be funny if it were not a joke but a counseling job. Of course, every individual can choose who he wants as a personal mentor or mental coach, but as psychologists we have the duty to assert that the individual improving goes through competent and qualified professionals and not by people who are appointed by themselves as motivators, mental coach or whatever just based on personal considerations. The profession of psychologist, as that of the doctor, lawyer or others is subject to strict rules and no one can exercise it without proper qualification. Not surprisingly those who have decided to do without these requirements have had to invent new words to be defined, and so  the term “motivator “and” mental coach ” were born. Anyone can be defined in this way, even the barman near our house and he will not be prosecuted by law.

It’s necessary that the Psychologist Roster as well as the Olympic Committee and sports federations are at the forefront of spreading a professionally correct  approach to mental coaching, otherwise the sports culture will be affected and only who will be more aggressive on the market will win.

Teenager on field: a challenge for the coach

When coaches train adolescent athletes t they need to use their interpersonal skills efficiently. The communication style more frequently adopted is to “be a friend.” In fact, even when the boys and girls grow up, the true challenge for the coaches is to maintain their role. The coach-friend does not help,the coaches need to apply some rules, useful also for parents, which allow them to have an open communication with the teenagers:

  • Stimulate active participation to facilitate the processes of attention and memory: give examples
  • Understanding the needs of the listeners. The motivation to listen is essential: which messages are more interesting for them
  • Search for the adolescent feedback. There can be no communication without information exchange: the feedback is, therefore, an essential step in this process
  • Create togetherness
  • Follow their own pace. They are used to deal with messages having these characteristics: speed, motion, color, sound, interactivity. Coach messages need to have some of these features otherwise attention and the motivation to listen will decrease
  • Use their jargon
  • Use different channels to communicate (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)
  • To be concrete without to overload  of information

At the same time there are attitudes that, in contrast, are able to stop any possibility of communication with the adolescents:

  • The excess of information
  • Giving feedback and negative feedback without pointing the way for change
  • Have an attitude of superiority: “I’m older and I know how things are going”
  • Maintain a physical and psychological distance
  • Have a manipulating and controlling leadership style

Communicating with young people is really a challenge. Often we remain displaced in front of their questions or their silences. They have the ability to move a lot of deep feelings that we must recognized and processed in order to continue to improve in our own role as a coach.

(by Daniela Sepio)