Tag Archive for 'Covid-19'

Aware of our preconceived thoughts, delete them

Every day we try to explain our performances and what is happening around us. This trend is particularly perceived when we have to explain unexpected events to ourselves.

The pandemic we are experiencing this year is an event that falls in this last situation. One wonders how it was possible for this virus to spread. Who could have ever imagined that we were living in this situation as it was like the cholera and plague epidemics of the past centuries, and that science and our health care systems were completely unprepared.

In these times, we too often fall into providing explanations based on our own prejudices. We told ourselves that it was the fault of the Chinese and that the virus had been built in the laboratory or that it was the fault of the migrants who spread it because they are dirty. Others have chosen different explanations, the deniers have chosen the defense mechanism that is called denial. Still others thought that the virus was a justification for governments to control people’s lives, so they also rebelled against the rules of their governments, so they did not put on the mask and did not wash their hands.

How to change? How to accept reality? It would take a period of re-attributive training to learn how to shift the origin of our explanations from a superficial, selfish and prejudiced interpretation to one based on reality analysis, on data and not on subjective impression.

We would need this approach to regain control of our emotions, bringing our attention to those favoring the acquisition of self-control and not based on fear but on the responsibility that everyone has towards everyone.

We need leader-coach

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Judy Garland
In these times of crisis this statement is more relevant than ever. It is for everyone, but even more so it is a question to be answered by leaders, those who guide and orient others.

The health crisis has regained strength and if to some extent the world of corporations is going down paths to support their leaders and managers even with the collaboration of the most important consulting companies, in the Italian sports world there is no trace of this mentality from professional soccer to amateur sports clubs. If in NBA specific projects are proposed in order to allow the public to return to see the matches, we ask more superficially to let more people enter the stadium, thus superimposing the goal on the tool. Without explaining how it is safeguarded the health of all. In addition, the quarrel between the different structures of the same sport and the propensity to formulate proposals by “sly” are the other elements that do not allow to formulate documented projects.

Going to the level of the end users of sport, even in this area, to my knowledge, there are no proposals. Coaches and athletes are left alone to live and manage this period of great fear and difficulty. Those who have had to stop and those who work are forced to live this period leveraging only on themselves and as far as I can see from my experience in recent months, the difficulties have multiplied, many have taken a pessimistic or fatalistic approach while more optimistic have leveraged their creativity trying to implement alternative solutions to maintain an active presence.
“We live in fear” is heard more and more often, you no longer have the unconsciousness of the first months of lockdown, in which it was thought that after that period we would return to normal, now we live the anxiety of living a situation that we do not know when it will end and in the meantime we live to the day and every day increase the people we know who get sick.

It is just now that we feel more this social loneliness, which is added not only to the fear of getting sick of Covid-19 but also that any other health problem that we know we will not be treated because the hospitals are in crisis.

In this context we cannot leave alone sports clubs, coaches and athletes from those who are preparing for the next Olympics to young people from soccer schools and all sports, we must not leave alone even people with disabilities for whom sport is an essential activity for their well-being.
In this sense, in compliance with the rules formulated by the government, it would be necessary that starting from the coaches who have the direct relationship with the athletes a concrete support (not only economic) is provided to their leadership to continue to carry out their work on the fields for those who are allowed and at a distance for those sports that have been stopped.

In this period, it is necessary to develop and act using these skills:

  • Deliberate calm and optimism, be confident but aware of the gravity of the situation.
  • Listen and share, the problems and fears of the people we work with.
  • Act, formulate training programs appropriate to the situations in which people live.

 

Federica Pellegrini and the need to have a goal

Federica Pellegrini: underlines the need in this period to have an goal and pursue it even in the uncertainty of the moment. This is what she summarizes in the interview published today in Repubblica and of which I report below the answer to the question of what she would do if there was another lockdown

If there was another general lockdown what would you do?

“I honestly don’t know, I don’t know how I would react. I have set myself the goal of getting to August. Whatever happens in the middle of the year, unless they tell us tomorrow that the Olympics are cancelled and then everything would change there, I’m moving forward towards my goal”.

Empathy and compassion to communicate with the others

Tania Singer e Olga Klimecki (2014) Empathy and compassion. Current Biology, 24, R875-R878.

“Although the concepts of empathy and compassion have existed for many centuries, their scientific study is relatively young. The term empathy has its origins in the Greek word ‘empatheia’ (passion), which is composed of ‘en’ (in) and ‘pathos’ (feeling). The term empathy was introduced into the English language following the German notion of ‘Einfühlung’ (feeling into), which originally described resonance with works of art and only later was used to describe the resonance between human beings. The term compassion is derived from the Latin origins ‘com’ (with/together) and ‘pati’ (to suffer); it was introduced into the English language through the French word compassion. In spite of the philosophical interest for empathy and the fundamental role that compassion plays in most religions and secular ethics, it was not until the late 20th century that researchers from social and developmental psychology started to study these phenomena scientifically.

According to this line of psychological research, an empathic response to suffering can result in two kinds of reactions: empathic distress, which is also referred to as personal distress; and compassion, which is also referred to as empathic concern or sympathy. For simplicity, we will refer to empathic distress and compassion when speaking about these two different families of emotions. While empathy refers to our general capacity to resonate with others’ emotional states irrespective of their valence — positive or negative — empathic distress refers to a strong aversive and self-oriented response to the suffering of others, accompanied by the desire to withdraw from a situation in order to protect oneself from excessive negative feelings. Compassion, on the other hand, is conceived as a feeling of concern for another person’s suffering which is accompanied by the motivation to help. By consequence, it is associated with approach and prosocial motivation.

Research by Daniel Batson and Nancy Eisenberg in the fields of social and developmental psychology confirmed that people who feel compassion in a given situation help more often than people who suffer from empathic distress. Furthermore, Daniel Batsons’ work showed that the extent to which people feel compassion can, for instance, be increased by explicitly instructing participants to feel with the target person. Interestingly, the capacity to feel for another person is not only a property of a person or a situation, but can also be influenced by training.

In order to train social emotions like compassion, recent psychological research has increasingly made use of meditation-related techniques that foster feelings of benevolence and kindness. The most widely used technique is called ‘loving kindness training’. This form of mental practice is carried out in silence and relies on the cultivation of friendliness towards a series of imagined persons. One would usually start the practice by visualizing a person one feels very close to and then gradually extend the feeling of kindness towards others, including strangers and, at a later stage, also people one has difficulties with. Ultimately, this practice aims at cultivating feelings of benevolence towards all human beings.”

Coaches don’t give up the athletes

Never as in these days the role of the coach is crucial to support their athletes.

One must not give up the role of leader, otherwise it is easy for athletes to feel only discouraged, abandoned and think that if you can not do as before, then there is nothing to do.

The situation is difficult for everyone, but it is even more so for those who practice contact sports and in the gym, there are no competitions, it is difficult to train and frustration can become the dominant mood.

The task of sports clubs and coaches is now priceless  to provide guidance on how to train but above all to share this dramatic experience with athletes.

Don’t give up!

10 things to do for athletes

  1. establish with them goals for improvement
  2. provide a physical, technical-tactical and mental program to be carried out
  3. give a system of evaluation of their progress
  4. search video to comment together
  5. organize online or outdoor challenges
  6. listen to what the athletes have to tell you
  7. talk to them about the difficulties of training in this new way
  8. emphasize this type of training and the benefits it provides
  9. strengthen their commitment and correct mistakes
  10. be determined to lead athletes

Advise to return to play for athletes with Covid-19

Wilson, M. et al. (2020). Cardiorespiratory considerations for return-to-play in elite athletes after COVID-19 infection: a practical guide for sport and exercise medicine physicians. British Journal of Sport Medicine, 54 (19).
SARS-CoV-2 is the causative virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has necessitated that all professional and elite sport is either suspended, postponed or cancelled altogether to minimise the risk of viral spread. As infection rates drop and quarantine restrictions are lifted, the question how athletes can safely resume competitive sport is being asked. Given the rapidly evolving knowledge base about the virus and changing governmental and public health recommendations, a precise answer to this question is fraught with complexity and nuance. Without robust data to inform policy, return-to-play (RTP) decisions are especially difficult for elite athletes on the suspicion that the COVID-19 virus could result in significant cardiorespiratory compromise in a minority of afflicted athletes. There are now consistent reports of athletes reporting persistent and residual symptoms many weeks to months after initial COVID-19 infection. These symptoms include cough, tachycardia and extreme fatigue. To support safe RTP, we provide sport and exercise medicine physicians with practical recommendations on how to exclude cardiorespiratory complications of COVID-19 in elite athletes who place high demand on their cardiorespiratory system. As new evidence emerges, guidance for a safe RTP should be updated.

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

https://bmj.com/coronavirus/usage

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The motivation to start the new sport season

In many sports this time of year is usually a period of restart, I am referring to team sports such as soccer, basketball and volleyball and many individual sports.This happens again this year with a variant, in different disciplines is from February that the athletes do not compete or have competed but only in races held in Italy, often without the appeal of the comparison with the best athletes. It is not easy then to restart the training, when you have not done anything else for months or you are competing in races that until a few months ago athletes of absolute level considered secondary.

In these days I have been talking to athletes who experience this situation and their training and daily lives suffer from it. It is in these moments, that we all realize the importance of competitions. Not only because they represent the test in which to demonstrate one’s value as an athlete, but above all their absence determines a disaffection from training, from the desire to correct oneself. We are talking about athletes who train about 1,400 hours a year. This commitment is aimed at providing performance at their best, but if the opportunities are missing, it is not so easy to find every day the right motivation.

The work with the sports psychologist can be very useful to support the athletes in this commitment and in establishing objectives and evaluation systems within the training cycles that allow them to maintain at the highest level the quality and intensity of training.

Benches in the gym: the end of sport in Italy

Si sta affermando l’idea che le palestre non saranno a disposizione delle associazioni sportive perché diventeranno delle aule e per problemi di sanificazione. Questo vuol dire uccidere le società sportive dilettantistiche, creare disoccupazione e impedire la pratica sportiva dei giovani. Comporta anche la riduzione del benessere e della salute di tutti, atleti e operatori dello sport. Infatti, le società sportive si aggiudicano l’uso delle palestre e la quasi totalità dello sport giovanile e amatoriale che si svolge al coperto, a eccezione del nuoto, è all’interno della palestre delle scuole. Se questi spazi diventeranno delle aule o se i costi della loro sanificazione quotidiana saranno eccessivi un pezzo importante del mondo sportivo italiano avrà perso il luogo dove allenarsi e gareggiare.

Molti amministratori pubblici hanno fatto dichiarazioni in tal senso, con la scusante di non poter garantire la salute all’interno delle scuole. Queste dichiarazioni confermano ancora una volta la superficialità di chi, invece, dovrebbe fornire soluzioni che non discriminino un’attività (lo sport) rispetto alle altre. E’ chiaro nella loro mentalità che lo sport è un’attività non significativa sia dal punto di vista professionale (i lavoratori del settore) che di chi la pratica (gli atleti). Proprio perché se ne può fare a meno non si pensa concretamente a soluzioni e a circa due settimane dall’inizio dell’anno scolastico si cerca una soluzione alla carenza di aule nell’uso delle palestre. Lo sport giovanile non ha mai suscitato grande interesse fra i nostri politici e il Covid-19 mette in luce che questa concezione continua a essere ben consolidata e diffusa. Vivere una situazione di emergenza come quella attuale nonché i problemi creati dal distanziamento fisico e dall’uso di mascherina e dalla mancanza di spazi nelle scuole non giustifica comunque un approccio così poco curante nei confronti dello sport. Lo sport è necessario per il benessere dei giovani così come imparare la matematica e l’italiano, quindi questo approccio non ha alcuna ragione di esistere e di essere proposto da chi svolge una funzione pubblica. La questione della scuola va risolta ma senza lasciare indietro nessuna attività tra quelle svolte all’interno degli istituti. Non ho letto dichiarazioni che sottolineano un senso di comunità tra chi lavora all’interno delle scuole ma solo affermazioni categoriche, in cui si dice che le palestre non saranno più disponibili per far praticare sport alle varie associazioni perché diventeranno aule.

Siamo abituati a trovare soluzioni all’ultimo momento e non programmate in anticipo, mi auguro che questa sia una di quelle situazioni in cui ciò potrà avvenire. Sono convinto che in condizione di emergenza anche le soluzioni devono essere meno stereotipate come lo sono quelle di occupare le palestre e le biblioteche scolastiche. Mi sono sempre chiesto perché non si usano le caserme come aule, o perché non si posso fare lezioni al pomeriggio certamente trovando le risorse economiche necessarie o assumendo nuovi insegnanti a tempo determinato.  Non è mio compito trovare soluzioni, ho voluto evidenziare un problema di cui sento parlare quotidianamente da chi lavora nello sport ma di cui non ho trovato proposte da chi ha il compito di consentire lo svolgimento dell’anno scolastico in modo regolare e l’utilizzo degli spazi scolastici senza escludere nessuno.

Ideas for the new sport year

I started again last Saturday the activity of what I consider the new sports season. I started with tennis, volleyball, handball, the revision of an article on teaching soccer to children with autism and the reading of a dozen thesis projects being carried out. It hasn’t been a soft start but it’s giving me a sense of work normality, at a time that obviously is not the case. Like everyone else I live with this perception of uncertainty and not knowing what will happen in the coming months.

My work is quite planned and without this pandemic it would be varied and interesting. In the meantime it is done “as if” it should proceed as planned, with the awareness that I have to prepare for the necessary adaptations and changes depending on how the health situation will evolve. I am thinking, for example, at “Calcio Insieme” project with our 80 young people with autism playing soccer. With AS Roma and the Integrated Football Academy we are organizing ourselves in order to be able to carry out the training activity in conformity with the rules and in safety for everyone.

My main work is with teenage athletes who aspire to excellence but don’t know if they will reach these levels and with top athletes who are preparing to establish themselves internationally. To a large extent, they are aware of the importance of the mental component of their activity, knowing that they must also engage in psychological work, which is certainly not easy to do. In a time of crisis as it is today, psychological support becomes even more essential to learn to accept fears, anxiety about the future and the limitations required to ensure your own health and that of the people you work with on a daily basis.

I experienced their fears during the lockdown, when left alone at home, many risked living in angst and passively suffering that period. Psychological support with them was, in my opinion, indispensable to allow them to take their lives into their own hands even in those negative moments. Now the limitations have been greatly reduced, but the fears remain until we will have the vaccine. The psychologist remains the only person with whom to share these concerns and to improve resilience and confidence.

Our main sports organizations, compared to those of other European countries, have not clearly dealt with these issues and the same is true for the organizations of sports psychologists. No shared and specific documents have been produced and, therefore, the responsibility has been left to the individual initiatives of professionals.

What can I say, I hope to realize together with all the people I work with the projects we have planned. What is certain is that we never give up, we have been and will always be ready to solve the problems that will arise. My motto is: “something done well, you can do better” (Gianni Agnelli).

Good luck to all the optimists!!!

How to restart our activities in September?

It is difficult to predict with certainty how the new sports year will start, but also what the beginning of the school year and the return to the companies will be like. We do, however, have some firm points:

  • anyone who doesn’t follow the rules can become a weapon for the spread of the Covid-19.
  • many people don’t follow the rules if they’re left free to behave as they think they should.
  • this awareness increases the worry and anxiety in the future
  • we can’t live waiting for everything to go back to the way it was because it’s fake.
  • we must be aware, instead, that our lives and the way we act on a daily basis will be different.
  • we’re living in an opportunity for change to build together in our environment, not deny it

So we have to:

  • establish our goals
  • develop ideas, projects and actions appropriate to the times we are experiencing
  • do better and differently and not do like before
  • consider technology as an indispensable means of achieving our goals
  • never stop updating, understood as an ongoing and not occasional process
  • increase our social and professional network to increase the impact of our activities
  • maintain a high level of interpersonal communication, sharing goals and actions
  • maintain physical distance but seek intellectual proximity
  • to know that it’s going to be difficult and challenging, and that’s why we’re getting ready
  • be aware that the result will not be guaranteed, but on the other hand this was true even before!