Tag Archive for 'crisi'

Tennis, Badosa: +expectations = -game focus

Everything seemed all set for Paula Badosa‘s ultimate rise in the stardom of women’s tennis, but 2022, which was expected to be the year of consecration, has so far been rather disappointing (the last defeat yesterday in Tokyo against 19-year-old Qinwen Zheng of China). This is a paradox when one considers that Badosa at one point this season, precisely after the Stuttgart tournament, became world number two, a position held, however, for only two weeks. How did it get from world number two to Badosa’s now well-known tweet this morning? “I don’t even win at parchìs.” A strong statement for a tennis player who is currently ranked number eight in the world but is going through a complicated phase emotionally. The reference to parchìs is typically Spanish, a board game with dice in which four players compete to achieve a goal, very famous in Spain and with some similarities to the game of the goose. A metaphor that betrays Badosa’s frustration, who in the tweet afterwards thanked everyone for the support, adding that he will keep fighting.”

This news highlights how difficult it always is to achieve results that match the outcome standards an athlete has set for herself. At first glance these would seem to be situations more typical of a teenage age when one does not yet know one’s qualities well, but instead these are the experiences of absolute world-class athletes. In fact, The Abbess is not the only one to experience these crises just remember Osaka or the difficulties of many other top 10s.

A survey I conducted with Robert Nideffer and Jeff Bond (former director of the Australian Institute of Sport) of absolute world level athletes showed that the difference between Olympic medal winners and those who had won more, so-called, serial winners consisted essentially in the latter’s greater ability to stay focused on the task.

This result would indicate that serial winners do not get distracted by their own expectations and those of their environment, think less about the outcome, are less influenced by the external environment and instead show a total focus on performing at their best. Other investigations conducted mainly in athletics have in turn shown that for these athletes the last two hours leading up to the race are crucial in activating this attentional mode.

Inter e Juve crisis

A team’s crisis occurs when problems with play and a reduced collective cohesion between players and coach weld together. This resulted in yet another bad performance by Juventus against Monza and Inter’s third defeat in the league.

If the game is negatively influenced by injuries, the inclusion of new signings, the tarnished state of form of some starters the team cannot produce the game it would like to. In these situations what must sustain the team is cohesion, unity of purpose, and collective work. In practice, players must interact on the field for the purpose of showing unity and confidence in their team skills even if they are not optimal at that stage. Napoleon was accustomed to say that he also won his battles with the dreams of his soldiers, and this phrase is an effective metaphor for what should be meant by collective effectiveness.

This mentality must be fostered by the behaviors and statements of the coach, who aware of the limitations of the game, must act to arouse the psychological strength of the players as a team. As Al Pacino says so well in the movie “Every Damn Sunday” in the role of the coach of a team in crisis, “So … either we rise up now, as a collective, or we will be annihilated individually.”

My impression is that Allegri and Inzaghi think too much about the schemes, the game and less about making individuals and the team proactive. The motivation to help each other, to get out of difficult situations and to want to move forward together, comes before the game. One cannot hide behind the thought that because players are very well-paid professionals they should always express themselves to the fullest or know how to behave in moments of nervousness or depression. One cannot say as Allegri said in relation to the Champions route that the decisive game would be the home match with Benfica, it means throwing sand in the delicate gears of a team. Or to remain puzzled, as Inzaghi said, after the Udinese game. They seem to have lost awareness of the psychological condition of the team and individuals. It is not the game forms per se that make a team great but how these are played. As with an actor, it is not enough to have learned the part by heart; his success will depend on how he plays his role. Performing implies a strong psychological involvement. This is what coaches need to work on, and perhaps they might even realize that working with a sports psychologist might help them.

Many sports clubs at risk of closure

Price increases due to utility bills also affect sports, an important part of the working world. I reproduce below the intervention of Tiziano Pesce,  UISP president, italian national organization of sport for all.

“Real resources and concrete interventions are needed. Let’s overcome the inequalities that still exist and accompany legislative reform.”

What we are launching, after our many appeals in recent months, is a further, heartfelt cry of alarm!
The enthusiasm and the great desire to restart and practice sports and physical activities, which we record in these days of September all over the country, clashes with the increasingly difficult family budgets, the increasingly heavy inflation and the high utility bills that hit hard those who of gas, electricity, heating oil, are obliged to make great use of them: sports associations and clubs, promotion bodies, recreational clubs, are literally at the brink, starting with those who manage, after the enormous sacrifices suffered in the midst of the health emergency, among other things not yet completely overcome, aggregation spaces, sports facilities, gyms and swimming pools.

Supply price increases are reaching these days to register increases of even 300-400%, tremendous percentages destined to rise every day. Absurd price increases, absolutely no longer sustainable.
We call for targeted government intervention to avoid closing down the world of grassroots sports and social promotion, with the cessation of activity for tens and tens of thousands of associations, which, for millions of citizens of all ages and conditions, represent authentic territorial garrisons of sports for all, sociality, inclusion, education, health promotion, the fight against inequality and much more.
An area that, let us not forget, also represents an employment sector for hundreds of thousands of people.
The cold months are upon us, we need real resources, and not just tax credits, which are in fact inaccessible to most sodalities, or it will be the end.
Resources, starting with the next aid decrees, and concrete structural interventions that leave no one on the street, neither the small associations nor the territorial levels of the Sports Promotion Bodies, almost never beneficiaries of the refreshments, we reiterate, although in many territories they are social managers of proximity sports facilities.
Source (UISP)

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!!!

The mental coaching for the ultramarathons

  • Il prossimo 28 giugno centinaia di atleti parteciperanno alla 40^ edizione della Pistoia-Abetone. Ad attenderli ci sarà un duro percorso di 50 km. Possiamo dare qualche consiglio su come affrontare al meglio questa gara?

La pazienza è la prima qualità che deve dimostrare di possedere un ultra-maratoneta. All’inizio della gara ci si deve annoiare, nel senso che il ritmo della corsa deve essere facile ma non bisogna cadere nella tentazione di correre più veloce di quello che si è programmato.

  •  In una competizione così lunga sono inevitabili i momenti di crisi. Come è possibile superarli?

Nella corsa di lunga distanza le difficoltà sono inevitabili, quindi la domanda non è tanto “se ci troveremo in difficoltà” ma “quando verrà quel momento cosa devo fare per superarlo”. La risposta non può essere improvvisata in quel momento ma deve essere già pronta, poiché anche in allenamento avremo incontrato difficoltà di quel tipo. Quindi in allenamento: “come mi sono comportato, che cosa ho pensato, quali sensazioni sono andato a cercare dentro di me per uscire da una crisi?”. In gara abbiamo dentro di noi queste risposte, dobbiamo tirarle fuori. Ogni runner in quei momenti deve servirsi della propria esperienza, mettendo a fuoco le immagini e le emozioni che già in passato gli sono state utili.

  • Malgrado le difficoltà e i sacrifici per affrontare una gara di lunga distanza, il popolo dei maratoneti è in aumento. Come si spiega questa tendenza?

La corsa corrisponde a un profondo bisogno dell’essere umano. Infatti noi siamo geneticamente predisposti alla corsa di lunga distanza e più in generale si può affermare che il movimento è vita mentre la sedentarietà è una causa documentata di morte. Sotto questo punto di vista la corsa si è tramutata nelle migliaia di anni in attività necessaria per sopravvivere agli attacchi degli animali e per procacciarsi il cibo in un’attività che viene oggi svolta per piacere e soddisfazione personale. Inoltre, oggi come al tempo dei nostri antenati, la corsa è un fenomeno collettivo, è un’attività che si svolge insieme agli altri. Per l’homo sapiens era un’attività di squadra, svolta dai cacciatori per cacciare gli animali; ai nostri tempi la corsa soddisfa il bisogno di svolgere un’attività all’aria aperta insieme ai propri amici.

  •  Cosa non bisognerebbe mai fare a livello mentale in una competizione sportiva?

Non bisogna mai pensare al risultato ma concentrarsi nel caso della corsa sul proprio ritmo e sulla sensazioni fisiche nelle parti iniziali e finali della gara. Nella fase centrale è meglio avere pensieri non correlati al proprio corpo.

  •  Chi è per lei un campione?

Chiunque sia in grado di soddisfare i propri bisogni è il campione di se stesso e deve essere orgoglioso di avere raggiunto questo obiettivo personale. Quando invece ci riferiamo con questo termine ai top runner, i campioni sono quelli che riescono a mantenere stabili per un determinato periodo di tempo prestazioni che sono oggettivamente al limite superiore delle performance umane nella maratona e che in qualche occasione sono riusciti a superare.

  •  Nella sua esperienza di psicologo al seguito di atleti partecipanti alle Olimpiadi, c’è un ricordo o un aneddoto che le è rimasto nel cuore?

Prima di prove importanti i campioni provano le stesse emozioni di ogni altra persona. Spesso le percepiscono in maniera esagerata, per cui possono essere terrorizzati di quello che li aspetta. La differenza con gli altri atleti è che invece riescono a dominarle e a fornire prestazioni uniche. Ho vissuto questa esperienza per la prima volta ad Atlanta, 1996, in cui un atleta che poi vinse la medaglia d’argento, non voleva gareggiare in finale perché si sentiva stanco ed esausto. Questa stessa situazione l’ho incontrata in altre occasioni ma questi atleti sono sempre riusciti a esprimersi al loro meglio nonostante queste intense espressioni di paura.

  • Analizzando il panorama dell’atletica italiana, si ha la sensazione che i risultati migliori arrivino da atleti anagraficamente non così giovani come ad esempio negli anni Ottanta e che il vivaio di talenti stenti a decollare. Quale interpretazione possiamo dare di questo fenomeno e come evitare l’alta percentuale di drop-out sportivo nell’adolescenza?

Nel libro intitolato “Nati per correre” di A. Finn e dedicato agli atleti keniani vengono prese in considerazioni molte ipotesi sul loro successo emerge con chiarezza che la molla principale risiede nel loro desiderio di avere successo.

“Prendi mia figlia, ha aggiunto, è bravissima nella ginnastica, ma non credo farà la ginnasta. Probabilmente andrà all’università e diventerà medico. Ma un bambino keniano, che non fa altro che scendere al fiume per prendere l’acqua e correre a scuola, non ha molte alternative all’atletica. Certo anche gli altri fattori sono determinanti, ma la voglia di farcela e riscattarsi è la molla principale” (p.239).

  •  Si può affermare che la pratica di uno sport svolga un ruolo di prevenzione rispetto a disturbi mentali quali l’ansia e la depressione?

Lo sport e l’attività fisica promuovono il benessere se vengono svolte come attività del tempo libero e per il piacere di sentirsi impegnati in qualcosa che si vuole liberamente fare.  Al contrario quando vengono svolte allo scopo di fornire prestazioni specifiche possono determinare, come qualsiasi altra attività umana, difficoltà di ordine psicologico e fisico. Direi che vale anche per lo sport e l’attività fisica la stessa regola che è valida per qualsiasi attività umana. Il problema non proviene da cosa si fa: sport agonistico o ricreativo ma da come si fa: crescita e soddisfazione personale o ricerca del risultato a ogni costo e dagli obiettivi del contesto sociale e culturale nel quale queste attività vengono praticate: sviluppare la persona attraverso lo sport o vincere è l’unica cosa che conta.

(From Runners e benessere, Giugno 2015)

The mind in the ultramarathon: how to train it to overcome the crisis moments

As part of the events organized on the occasion of the 100 km of Passatore, Italy, Thursday, 21 May (h.20.30), at the Faenza Galleria Comunale  will host a meeting on nutrition and training. The meeting, organized in collaboration with Iuta (Ultramarathon Italian Association) provides interventions with Luca Speciani on “Diet and performance in sports, in competition and out: the paradigm shift power signal”, and Alberto Cei, on “the mind in the ultramarathon: how to train it to overcome the crisis moments.”

Who wants to meet me can do it during this evening.

El Shaarawy crisis

It’s still continuing the Stephan El Shaarawy’s crisis, Milan football player, after a good first half of the season, he played a rather subdued the second part and this crisis seems to continue in the national team. Crisis are quite common in young players and, maybe future champions, as it is not easy to maintain high performance levels when everyone expects it to be so.

Many athletes feel these emotions and should have to follow a program of psychological coaching to train mentally to handle them effectively. I hope that Prandelli, the Italian team coach, is not one of those coaches that says “do not worry, as soon as you score a goal all these thinks get out.”

The main training mode are the following:

  • Relaxation associated with mental rehearsal of the performance – it’s about knowing how to relax reducing usefulness tensions and charging with those who promote the performance.
  • Identification of the optimal emotional state – Allows the player to train himself to stay in the optimal psychological condition, experienced in the past on the occasion of his best performances.
  • Simulation – Replicate the match conditions in training helps to improve  the performance and prepare for the unexpected situations that may occur. Consists, for example, in producing in training stimuli that may distract the athlete from the execution of his performance.
  • Acceptance of competitive stress – It’s essential to accept that the emotional condition felt before the game is an important individual reaction; it emphasizes the value that is attributed to that match. In fact, without the stress perception the matches would only other workouts. Instead, they are carried out to prove  to ourselves our competitive value through comparison with others.

La malattia delle panchine

Rischiamo che diventino 15 le squadre che cambiano allenatore. Questa situazione al di là delle intemperanze individuali mostra come il sistema di rapporti tra presidente, allenatore e squadra (per non allargarlo a procuratori, direttori sportivi, general manager) non funziona più. Ognuno dovrebbe fare un passo indietro e mettere da parte il proprio narcisismo. I calciatori dovrebbero giocare non solo per se stessi ma anche per l’allenatore, l’allenatore dovrebbe ascoltarli e lavorare per tenere unita la squadra, il presidente dovrebbe sostenere i suoi dipendenti con razionalità. E’ evidente che questo non avviene e allora si perdono le partite spesso per mancanza d’impegno, perchè non si vuole lottare. Così il calcio italiano affonda , non si migliora di certo cambiando 15 allenatori. Qualcuno lo pensa?