Tag Archive for 'Cortina'

Learning from the biggest mistakes

Psychological themes of this week:

The Juventus case - two goals conceded as soon as the game started, and especially at the beginning of each half. Why weren’t they ready? How could Bentancur have been so distracted? What is the mental approach to important games? You can make a mistake at the beginning of the first half, but how can you also make a mistake at the beginning of the second half?

Italian women’s skiing disaster at the World Championships - Too much nervousness from the athletes? How did the coaching staff prepared to handle these legitimate expectations of victory? There is a syndrome created by Sofia Goggia injury? How do you make a mistake on the third stick: too much impulsiveness at the start?

These are cases to be studied in depth, certainly not to find fault but to identify through the knowledge of the reasons that created these problems, how to avoid them in the future.

What is the Italian female skiers lacking?

What is the Italian female skiers lacking?  Probably the total involvement with their performance while instead dominating a mental condition of anxiety and excessive worry.

Peak performance is provided by the athlete whose mental condition is called the “flow state” or “ideal performance state” and in this condition the person is totally absorbed by the task relevant components. It was a matter of asking athletes to develop knowledge around a relatively simple idea: “If you are physically present in a given situation, why aren’t you fully present? What does it take for your mind to also be fully engaged in this competition?

Already in the 1980s, Orlick and Partington interviewing world-class Canadian athletes found that for them it was of fundamental importance to be, before the start of the competition, in a condition of global involvement, a state of mental readiness that almost resembled a form of dream come true. The same regards the top professional golfers. The dominant image in these golfers, an expression of total absorption in the task was as follows: to be focused only on the shot that is about to be executed and on nothing else inside or outside.

People then develop a strategy that allows them to be totally absorbed in the task, which starts with the use of methods that encourage learning and refining a particular task. The pianist, Alicia del la Rocha to optimize the execution of difficult passages of a score uses a strategy based on playing them in a slower, almost whispered way. Time management is also essential in this path of concentration, not everyone should use the approach of the German writer Goethe who claimed that the “early hours of the morning have gold in their mouth”. While there are differences in the conception of what the best hours to work are, it has nonetheless been shown that those who structure their writing time prove effective, just as those who devote more time to their activity are more likely to achieve the desired results. Thus, in any activity, expertise is fostered by the quantity and quality of time spent combined with its temporal organization.

A practical application of this approach can be found in the description that Alessandro Del Piero gives about wanting to learn a certain way to kick a free kick: “At the World Cup in Italy ’90 I was very impressed by Schillaci’s goal against Uruguay … I remember that after every training session at the Comunale, I stopped to try free kicks, especially that famous shot by Schillaci. The coach would sometimes ask me what I was still doing on the field, and he would ask me to stop so that I wouldn’t get too tired. I went on anyway, on my own. I would fix the ball, making a kind of small hole with my shoe, and I worked a lot on the support foot. In short, I wanted to recreate the conditions that had produced that famous shot, and in the end I succeeded: it was a Bologna-Juventus match, we won 3-1 and I finally scored that blessed ball in that blessed way”.