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The training keys: commitment and persistence

In training intensity and persistence are the two aspects that most frequently determine the athletes’ mistakes. Many are satisfied to train good enough, without being aware that it is precisely this way of thinking is slowing down their improvement.

The performance quality cannot be manifested with a good enough commitment, this seems to me an aspect that young athletes often do not consider as decisive for their improvement. At the same time, coaches can also fall into this trap, when they do not consider commitment at the first place in their teaching strategies, because too focused on correcting the sport technique.

Robert Singer wrote that at the end every performance is determined by three factors, of which the last two are much less considered than the first:

  1. personal potential
  2. sincere commitment to practise, condition and improve oneself
  3. ability to do well under competitive stress

The latter two are in fact often explained in terms of natural skills or instinct and in this way they are less trained than the other skills. On the contrary, the experience of top athletes, by their own affirmation, has taught us that it takes years of intense and continuous dedication to achieve remarkable results.
The mantra of these top athletes is “try and try again”.

This does not happen because today’s young people are lazy! It happens because we think it’s just a matter of technical training and physical preparation and time. While the lack of improvement is interpreted in terms of a block that will go away at the first success, of parents putting pressure or lack of confidence.

It is infrequent to think that young athletes may be wrong because they do the exercises in training with the same mentality with which they do (or used to do) their homework. For them it is enough to do the exercise and they do not bother to prepare themselves to do it not only well but in the best way they are able. They just do it. For them this means being concentrated. By this I mean that they are not aware of how they have to prepare to do the best they can and they do not know what mental and motor skills they have to put in place to meet the demands of the task.

In general terms, they train without a personal purpose, rather with the only aim of meeting the needs of their coach. Without a personal goal, they will not be able to fully develop their skills as an athlete, but above all they will experience the misunderstanding that they are trying their hardest while it is not true.

Zero talent, the best results if

Risultati immagini per habit and success performance

Provide feedback about commitment is a key point to learn

During the training to provide continuous feedback about commitment is a key point to enhance learning. Athletes should be aware about the commitment level they must show during exercises of every training session. The reasons why one should not engage just enough are as follows:

  • promotes technical errors
  • leads to a reduced focus on the task
  • reduces intrinsic motivation
  • obliges the coach to provide the same technical instructions, because the athletes often repeat the same mistakes and improve slowly
  • builds the habit to consider improving as something very hard to get
It is the responsibility of the coach:
  1. stimulate the commitment continuously
  2. accept that athletes just because they undertake with great intensity can commit more technical errors
  3. recognize first the commitment and secondly the technical aspects
  4. stimulate in athletes that the improvement comes by personal commitment
  5. teach be aware that the individual technical and motors limits can be discovered only by training with intensity and motivation
  6. teach to be satisfied of the personal commitment, although it not always determines the quality of performance
  7. teach be aware that the quality of performance is related to the commitment and it takes more than talent to be good athletes
  8. teach, in team sports, the intensity is a collective resource that no one should ignore and everyone should encourage the mates
  9. point out even before technical errors any lack of commitment
  10. explain what are the behaviors that show athletes who train with intensity and that we want to watch in our group

You’re a believable coach if …

Coaches, in the relationship with athletes, base their credibility on psychological dimensions where interpersonal communication plays a vital role and concern:

Stable aspects of the character – it refers to dimensions such as honesty and to show direct and clear communication with athletes without manipulating them. They are people proud to be part of that team.

Competence – They are individual professionally competent, geared to continuous improvement and innovators. They accept their limits and mistakes. They know that admit them is an index of strength and not weakness.

Commitment – these coaches  are heavily engaged in carrying out their activities. They possess and convey a positive vision of their team, and are intensely committed to achieving their goals. Sport and training inspire them and in these areas put their enthusiasm. They have a lot of energy; they are convinced and tenacious.

Caring – They are genuinely interested in their athletes, as individuals and as a group. To learn about them spending time with them and showing interest in the present as well as the future.

Consistency – They are individuals who act mostly consistent realizing their training philosophy, while adapting their behavior to the demands of the environment and unexpected situations. To this end they control their emotions so as to convey confidence to athletes. Are consistent in enforcing the rules and behavioral standards to which the team must adapt. Therefore, acting in an organized manner and highly responsible work.

Confident builder – They stimulate the confidence of their athletes. Try to speak at their best but they are also patients in helping them to develop and improve.

Being good communicators – The believable coaches are good communicators. Open, honest and straightforward when speaking to the individuals and the team. Continuously remind the athletes what they must do to be winners. These coaches require maximum involvement and take into account the information received from the athletes. They really listen and it is precisely for this reason they are aware of problems and conflicts, actively seeking to solve before they can further worsen.

(by Alberto Cei, revised from Janssen and Dale, 2002)

Use the best mental habits of others to change ourselves

The thoughts of others are an opportunity to reflect on our situation, about how we are working to achieve our goals. One mistake we make easily is to believe that for the reason we are doing well,we must necessarily continue in the same way almost automatically, without sweat and committing less. In those moments we become relaxed, not focused, arrogant, thinking that the result should get of course.
To react to this wrong thinking, I report the Claudio Ranieri’s thought, his team, Leicester,  probably will win the English league and that despite having a lead of +8 points a few games left, he says:
“We have done a lot, but in reality nothing yet. Now we need to clean up the thoughts, do not read, do not listen, stay focused. Fighting for every ball and every moment, as so far. To think only about the next game.”

Juventus new winning mind

Before the fury, then the technique. It seems to me that this is the evolution, in last years, has had the mentality of Juventus. Undisputed champions like Buffon and Pirlo, among others, had already won a lot and shown to have this approach to football, but a winning team is a lot more of their individual personalities and it had to prove that all possess and bring to the pitch this mentality. The work of Conte had the merit of bringing the fury in the game, that  physical and mental intensity coming before the technique, the team had to show for ninety minutes each game. Allegri has completed this team, which had won three consecutive Italian championships, changing the play ssystem and bringing more attention to the technical work, and on how necessary it’s to continually improve it. Today we talk about what it has been unexpectedly reached the final of the Champions League, but in sports there are no miracles. The team has, however, been shown to have exceeded the psychological limitations that prevented it from playing in order to achieve this goal. This results comes from a great training but also from a winning condition, at least in Italy, and on this confidence it has been possible to build, obstacle after obstacle, this willingness to go beyond the limits. Now everything is possible, because history teaches us that David beat Goliath. Juventus goes to Berlin with a joyful attitude, because they are months that it’s pursuing the dream that, day after day, with the hard work and dedication, it has become a reality and this is a significant psychological advantage to better address this last game. Barcelona, ​​super-favorite may run into a false start as Bolt did in the 100m final at the 2011 World Championships, resulting in disqualification. An example of superficial mind approach dictated by feel fated to win. Juventus will serve the enthusiasm accumulated in the last weeks combined with calm, that will enable it to enhance its play, the one taught by Allegri. Certainly Juventus, on its way in the Champions League, was also lucky and this has highlighted another characteristic, typical of the winning teams: to take advantage of favorable conditions. In fact, it won when it had to win and it’s not easy to get this result, because not confident teams often lose these games not thinking, losing their cool when the goal does not come immediately or if the opposing team is showing more difficult to overcome. In these cases, who should win become insecure, while the opponent gains confidence and can overturn the result in its favor, including the disbelief of the favorites. Commitment, total dedication and technique are the key to this success.

The three gold rules to be excellents

In any type of performance what really matters is:

to know how to learn,

to know how to correct the mistakes

and

to practice these two principles every day incessantly

 

Hard work must become a way of life

Some athletes have responded to the blog I wrote about the need to be the best fan of ourselves, saying that it’s really hard to do it, because the mistakes as are the negative performances too harshly test this belief. I agree and in fact I consider the self-confidence as the culmination of a process of psychological maturation and certainly not the starting point. This does not mean that we have not to do everything must be done to become self-confident, without which we cannot sustain the commitment needed in sport, school or job. Who wants to excel must be prepared to strongly support the commitment through any kind of difficulty. In this sense, we can say that the hard engagement must become a lifestyle, not something to show only when all goes well. In fact, we should know that we must be prepared to spend more hours than that in the beginning we had planned.

How it’s difficult to support ourselves

But how hard it’s to be the best fan of  ourselves! An athlete should show this belief toward him/herself and instead it’s one of the hardest things to do. A few examples:

  • A girl says to me “I did four races this year and none went well … then I’ll stop I cannot continue to do well only in training.”
  • A boy says to me “I was competing well then I thought that I could not continue in this way and so I made some mistakes and I did not get into the final.”
  • Another boy at the world championships before the final “This time I have to take a medal.” It came in fourth.
  • A girl “this time I lose bad, I did not believe in myself.”

Each of them has been working as a professional athlete, it’s their main activity, it’s that one in which they want to have success in life. On these occasions they have not proved to be the best fans of themselves. Competitive sport requires a high level of self-confidence and recklessness to know that the next time will be better than this one. This awareness comes from the engagement in training, to know that it is true that 1, 2, 3 0 multiple times I will lose, but it does not matter because continuing in this way the results will come. The important thing is to continue to sustain ourselves, especially when things go wrong. In summary sit needs:

  • Total commitment in training
  • Total support in the race regardless of the results
  • Confident expectation of good results

Doping or commitment

I often wonder who has the sense to keep talking about excellence in sport when continually discover how doping has got into this world and how the ethics in many athletes confuse with the code of silence. The ethics in these cases is to protect another athlete who dopa, according to a pathological definition of morality, according to which you must protect your environment regardless of the actions are illegal and immoral. The main reason given to justify this approach to doping consists in thinking that it’s not possible to excel without this help. Taking this point of view, those who oppose, condemning this kind of sports culture, he is considered a moralist who wants to impose  anachronistic rules, since all dope. Domina Embé philosophy: “Have you seen that that athlete took doping”, “Embé that will never be, so they do it all, if you want to win there is no alternative.” This philosophy is characterized by two main ideas: “So much the worse, the better” and “They’re all thieves.” When this view is widespread among adults, many have begun to take drugs to participate in Master events; there are cases in which parents have asked the doctor a “little help” for their son, increasingly gyms have become places of sales of illegal products and there are doctors and physiotherapists who have undertaken this type of advice to increase their earnings. It’s instead starting from the wide distribution of this bleak conception of sports culture that we must respond and continue to talk about excellence. Regards the absolute level of sports performance, depending only on the commitment and dedication of the athlete, prepared by teachers and programs as value. We must not give in to the philosophy dell’Embè because this devastates our young people and their teachers. The doping in sport and any illegal action must be fought by spreading the culture of commitment and the right to dream that it is possible to achieve any result. We have to legally pursue who uses doping but at the same time we need to change this culture of sport deadly. Children and young people are our future and they have to learn that they can have success thanks to their efforts. We must do more and better because the coaches are not only professionally competent but totally involved in a  work ethic vision of their work.