Tag Archive for 'Book'

Book review: Handbook of Embodied Cognition and Sport Psychology

Handbook of Embodied Cognition and Sport Psychology 

Massimiliano L. Cappuccio (Ed.)

Cambridge, MIT Press, 2018

This landmark work is the first systematic collaboration between cognitive scientists and sports psychologists that considers the mind–body relationship from the perspective of athletic skill and sports practice. With twenty-six chapters by leading researchers, the book connects and integrates findings from fields that range from philosophy of mind to sociology of sports.

The chapters show not only that sports can tell scientists how the human mind works but also that the scientific study of the human mind can help athletes succeed. Sports psychology research has always focused on the themes, notions, and models of embodied cognition; embodied cognition, in turn, has found striking confirmation of its theoretical claims in the psychological accounts of sports performance and athletic skill. Athletic skill is a legitimate form of intelligence, involving cognitive faculties no less sophisticated and complex than those required by mathematical problem solving.

After presenting the key concepts necessary for applying embodied cognition to sports psychology, the book discusses skill disruption (the tendency to “choke” under pressure); sensorimotor skill acquisition and how training correlates to the development of cognitive faculties; the intersubjective and social dimension of sports skills, seen in team sports; sports practice in cultural and societal contexts; the notion of “affordance” and its significance for ecological psychology and embodied cognition theory; and the mind’s predictive capabilities, which enable anticipation, creativity, improvisation, and imagination in sports performance.

Ana Maria Abreu, Kenneth Aggerholm, Salvatore Maria Aglioti, Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza, Duarte Araújo, Jürgen Beckmann, Kath Bicknell, Geoffrey P. Bingham, Jens E. Birch, Gunnar Breivik, Noel E. Brick, Massimiliano L. Cappuccio, Thomas H. Carr, Alberto Cei, Anthony Chemero, Wayne Christensen, Lincoln J. Colling, Cassie Comley, Keith Davids, Matt Dicks, Caren Diehl, Karl Erickson, Anna Esposito, Pedro Tiago Esteves, Mirko Farina, Giolo Fele, Denis Francesconi, Shaun Gallagher, Gowrishankar Ganesh, Raúl Sánchez-García, Rob Gray, Denise M. Hill, Daniel D. Hutto, Tsuyoshi Ikegami, Geir Jordet, Adam Kiefer, Michael Kirchhoff, Kevin Krein, Kenneth Liberman, Tadhg E. MacIntyre, Nelson Mauro Maldonato, David L. Mann, Richard S. W. Masters, Patrick McGivern, Doris McIlwain, Michele Merritt, Christopher Mesagno, Vegard Fusche Moe, Barbara Gail Montero, Aidan P. Moran, David Moreau, Hiroki Nakamoto, Alberto Oliverio, David Papineau, Gert-Jan Pepping, Miriam Reiner, Ian Renshaw, Michael A. Riley, Zuzanna Rucinska, Lawrence Shapiro, Paula Silva, Shannon Spaulding, John Sutton, Phillip D. Tomporowski, John Toner, Andrew D. Wilson, Audrey Yap, Qin Zhu, Christopher Madan.

Review book: Golf Flow

Golf Flow

Master you mind, master the course

Gio Valiante,

Human Kinetics, 2013, p. 228


In the title is already explained the goal the golfer has to achieve: let flow the mind and the shot will be good. The author, Gio Valiante was named one of the 40 most influential under-40 people in golf  by Golf Magazine and in this book he talks about flow not only from the theoretical point of view but also from the side of the PGA golfer experiences.

Reading Golf Flow we understand the mental side of golf. It could seem obvious because every person knows that golf is a mental game but here we find explained in which way  this happen; in which way the golfers use their time, practice the control, tune the effort and develop the awareness regarding the performance.  Valiante provides a great deal of current research  and he is never trivial when providing his advices. The amateur golfers reading this book will find many ideas to start their mental practice.

In my opinion the best part of Golf Flow is that one regarding the current top PGA pros, who talk through the author about their mental flow state, saying how much it permitted them to cope under pressure. This book may give the competitive golfers another tool to take their game to their highest level. The amateur golfers will find useful information coming from different top golfers and  from these different persons and experiences they can find that one is better for them.  The many professional insights about his work with the top golf are like this one:

“As it happens for many golfers, Justin’s instinct told him to go into Sunday and to be aggressive right to get-go. The details vary from golfer to golfer, but the philosophy is a cowboy version of golf that goes something like this: “Fire at every flag, go for par fives in two, be aggressive on every putt, and throw all strategy, patience, and ball placement to wind. I asked Justin to do the opposite and let patience and discipline define the round by using the first few holes to establish the rhythm of his routine.”

The book is full of these experiences and for this reason I believe that it’s very useful for the golfer of every level and for the coaches and sport psychologists who want to know better the mental side of the golf.

Book review: Le Mete dell’Allenatore

Le Mete dell’Allenatore

Flavia Sferragatta


Il libro di Flavia Sferragatta è particolarmente interessante per diverse ragioni. La prima delle quali è che permette di comprendere quali siano le implicazioni psicologiche del rugby. Chiunque voglia avvicinarsi alla conoscenza della componente mentale di questo sport, con questo libro, potrà sviluppare una conoscenza approfondita di questi aspetti. Un secondo pregio consiste nel trattarli dal punto di vista delle loro applicazioni professionali. In tal senso, allenatori e psicologi possono trovare descritti non solo gli atteggiamenti e le competenze psicologiche tipiche del rugby ma anche indicazioni operative “su cosa è meglio fare” in funzione degli obiettivi che s’intende perseguire. Un terzo aspetto centrale del libro risiede nelle molte citazioni di rugbisti e allenatori che permettono a Sferragatta di illustrare le tematiche psicologiche, con il risultato di fare emergere  in che misura allenatori e giocatori di alto livello sono assolutamente convinti del ruolo giocato dalla mente e di come le competenze interpersonali della squadra siano al centro delle prestazioni sul campo. Non ultimo aspetto positivo di questo libro è che si legge con facilità e piacere. Ciò non significa che i temi esposti siano semplici ma che l’autrice oltre a dimostrare un’approfondita conoscenza di questo sport e della psicologia ha saputo esporre il suo pensiero con chiarezza.

Book review: Inside Sport Psychology

Inside Sport Psychology

Costas I. Karageorghis and Peter C. Terry

Human Kinetics Publisher, 2011, p.235


Karageorghis and Terry provide an excellent overview of sport psychology, regarding motivation, self-confidence, anxiety, emotion, concentration, visualization and self-hypnosis. Also mood and music on performance are well treated because they are one of the main authors’ interest. All the themes are presented not only from the scientific side but many anecdotes and exercises are included. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning about sport psychology or people looking to improve athletic performance or even to learn general mental skills for life.

In the first chapter entitled “Sport psychology applications” the authors talk about skill acquisition that underlie top performance and about the concept that too often the athletes’ performances are not very consistent during a season and the reason is most of the time related to a reduced mental preparation. At this proposal they ask to the readers to take a moment to reflect on all the excuses they commonly use to explain their worst performances. In this way, Karageorghis and Terry introduce the readers to one of the main aspects of book, that is to propose theories and psychological techniques but also exercises to practice in order to be actively involved in the topics treated. This permit to the readers to be inside the themes of each chapter and to read it in a ease way. The second chapter is about motivation and, after some theoretical introductions, he athletes are driven to identify their main strong and weak points and how to become totally involved, in a flow experience that represents the peak of the intrinsic motivation. The authors look also to the youth coaches when they explain about the relevance of a mastery climate during the training to sustain this intrinsic motivation, de-emphasizing  social comparisons. The following two chapters are about self-confidence and anxiety. Confidence is so important psychological factors that could increase or destroy the performance, starting from this suggestions the authors introduce the Bandura’s self-efficacy approach and try to propose for each of its dimensions practical strategies to improve and sustain the self-confidence using the athletes’ imagery and self-talk skills. The anxiety is treated following the best known approach to explain this phenomenon, its symptoms and responses and the main relaxation techniques to reduce it. Like for the other topics many example of great sport athletes are provided to show that to choke under pressure is something that happens also at the top performers. The book has one of the best explanation of the relation between mood and performance, the authors introduce this topic, show how to assess it and explain how they used it in the daily work with the athletes also before the most important events.  Relation between food and mood are also well described in a way that I believe all the readers will find very useful. Practical suggestions are also provided to show how the self-talk can be used to change the dominant mood in specific time. The chapter about concentration as the previous describe techniques for a better use of this skill; interesting is the section where the authors  provide the suggestions for future attentional training based on the use of new technologies and the web site to explore at this regards. To fulfill the athletes’ potential is necessary to practice visualization and self-hypnosis and the following chapter is devoted to these topics. The last one is about the power of sound, and it’s more related to the Karageorghis’s work in this field. It’s a very useful chapter because usually the sport psychology books talk only in general terms about the music role in training and before the beginning of sport events. We find inside the experiences of the athletes and for someone like the marathoner Paula Radcliffe the music helps her to do much harder workout, while for the double Olympic decathlon athlete, Daley Thompson, the music is not necessary because he is so immersed in his training. In any case, in the chapter the authors talk about the important relation between exercise intensity and preferred music tempo and provide a long list of popular tracks for sport and exercise and which are the useful web sites for planning music programs.