Tag Archive for 'leadership'

The future of football between algorithms and creativity

If soccer is the last religious ritual of the laity, based on the fact that the goal is that rare event during the game that can happen at any instant and change the face of a game, the algorithms proposed by Wall Street Football, a start-up that deals with soccer, can destroy the emotions generated by this simple rule and make the game predictable, thus boring in the eyes of all fans.

Every company has the right to pursue its own goals, which in this case were well expressed by ceo Giovanni Bertoli when he states that it is possible to predict the footballer’s performance: shots, goals, fouls made and suffered, any action. It is an excellent opportunity offered to bookmakers who have to set odds but also for fans, for fantasy soccer. Soccer clubs could use it to get to know the players, and in the future a coach would know when and whether to replace a particular player, taking advantage of the possibility of having the data during the game in real time.

I agree with the use of the data that can be collected, but have the effects of this approach on the coach and the players been studied? Will doing the right thing at the right time be determined only by the data that comes to them or will the subjectivity of the coach continue to play an important role? Will coaches filter this information according to their own ideas or will they be induced to use it without any critical reflection? Will players become prisoners of the algorithm that will suggest how to play or will they still use creativity to get out of difficult situations?

And then why hasn’t it been studied how to apply the algorithm to the coach’s behaviors during the game to identify the effects of his leadership, finding out what percentage produces effective results and at what stages of the game. If he fills the role of leader as everyone claims, his leadership style should have a significant influence on the players, why hasn’t there been a study of how to improve his directions by scouting his behavior?

In essence, let’s not take away from the game of soccer the unpredictability of the outcome, which is determined by the subjectivity of individual players, their interactions as a team, and the coach’s behaviors, because no one wants to see perfect soccer players moving like toy soldiers coached by the coach-algorithm.

Are you change oriented?

If the change orientation of a leader is one basic attitude to take, the other two are the desire to take on new responsibilities and to give them to employees.

  • Feeling responsible means being aware that you have acted exactly as you should have with the thoroughness and speed required, considering yourself totally involved in the results achieved. The question to be answered is, “Did I do everything in my power to do?” In this way, the firm is able to ensure that the firm’s work is carried out in the best possible way, using the necessary resources, and that it feels responsible for what it achieves.
  • This is a key aspect of assigning responsibility to employees. For example, in situations of prolonged organizational stress, it can happen that a manager is convinced that he wants to give more delegation to his employees because he feels pressured by too many requests, he has difficulty managing them, and this leads to a reduction in the time dedicated to planned activities and a consequent increase in the time dedicated to emergency activities. The daily activity flows so fast for him that little by little the awareness of having to change is replaced by habituation to this condition of not governing the situation.
  • On the other hand, even employees, who in turn are extremely accustomed to this way of acting, run to their bosses as soon as they have a problem, expecting solutions. This vicious circle is also often encouraged by a condition of mutual satisfaction between managers and employees. In fact, the former is still gratified by perceiving himself as indispensable and by his ability to lead others by providing technical solutions. The latter are satisfied that they do not have to make decisions that could be wrong, and that they act under guidance that spares them from taking on responsibility.

In short, there is a widespread belief that to be successful, it is not enough to have the know-how or to have the professional skills and experience. The validity of this view has long been amply demonstrated in sports. David Hemery, winner of a gold medal in the 400m hurdles in the distant 1968 Olympics, interviewed 63 elite athletes from 20 different sports and showed that awareness and responsibility were the two most important attitudes that these athletes recognized as being at the base of their success. The Canadian psychologist Terry Orlick (1992), who has had forty years of experience with athletes, managers and astronauts, in his model of human excellence has shown that commitment and confidence were the most important psychological skills shown by top performers, others have added to these two skills the goal setting, which corresponds to the ability to establish clear, specific and challenging goals and to pursue them through planning articulated in weeks and months (Durand-Bush, Salmela, and Green-Hemers, 2001).

From these data, it is clear that if professional skills and experience are not supported by an adequate mental approach, one finds oneself in the condition of someone who, while owning a Ferrari but not knowing how to drive it, runs the risk of being overtaken by a less powerful but better-driven car.

Those who wish to have further information on how to develop these skills can contact me directly through this blog.

Coaches’ psychological skills

To lead a team, the coaches’ leadership must be supported by some psychological characteristics

  1. Analytical and multitasking skills - Coaches work in highly technical activities, must develop excellent problem solving skills and be able to tackle multiple tasks at the same time.
  2. Emotional regulation - Ability to stay focused on a task in presence of many potential distractions and disruptive factors. Coaches need to increasingly enhance their ability to control emotions of frustration and anger.
  3. Time management - Good time management requires the use of those analytical skills necessary to prioritize among tasks and identify responsibilities to be assigned. In addition, coaches must be able to identify their own personal limitations and those of their athletes.
  4. Confidence and Competitiveness - Coaches must refer to themselves for encouragement, support, motivation and reinforcement. There will be bad and frustrating days. Individuals must be confident and motivated enough to deal with frustration and lack of support.
  5. Quick Decision Making - Success depends on the individual’s ability to deal with situations of tension, anger and frustration, and to respond very quickly and appropriately. Many times, in fact, it is necessary to respond quickly. Anxious individuals become distracted by paying attention to stimuli that are not relevant to that task and by distracting thoughts/emotions. When under pressure they have difficulty listening, solving problems, or making effective decisions.


Master per Allenatori in Tecniche di Ottimizzazione della Performance Sportiva

Nello sport si parla molto di come sviluppare le competenze psicologiche degli atleti. In questi ultimi 30 anni sono stati formulati programmi che prevedono l’apprendimento delle abilità mentali di base a partire dalla fine dell’infanzia, per poi giungere negli anni dell’adolescenza a piani di allenamento specifici per ogni disciplina sportiva e, infine, a programmi altamente personalizzati per gli atleti di livello assoluto. Un programma così diversificato non è stato invece proposto per chi ricopre la responsabilità di guidare i giovani attraverso queste fasi della loro vita sportiva: gli allenatori.

Le ricerche evidenziano che gli atleti vincenti richiedono allenatori che siano eccellenti, non solo per i programmi di allenamento che propongono ma come leader che li guidano con competenze tecnica e psicologica. Lo stesso sostengono allenatori come José Mourinho quando afferma che chi conosce solo di sport non sarà mai un allenatore di successo, o Jurgen Klopp quando dice che: “Bisogna servirsi della tattica con il cuore. La partita va vissuta intensamente altrimenti è noia”. O Pierluigi Pescosolido, Fiamme oro e allenatore di molti campioni del tiro a volo, con cui da molti anni ci confrontiamo per migliorare continuamente l’allenamento di questi atleti di livello assoluto parlando della gestione della loro vita, della concentrazione nei momenti decisivi, delle competizioni ma anche di come insegnare queste competenze ai giovani junior che si affacciano per la prima volta al mondo competitivo.

Emerge così con forza la rilevanza della dimensione psicologica del lavoro dell’allenatore a livello giovanile e assoluto. Sono queste le ragioni che mi hanno convinto ad accettare l’invito di Psicosport, l’organizzazione che da 28 anni realizza il più longevo e di successo Master in Psicologia dello Sport, a promuovere insieme a un gruppo di esperti un Master TOP per allenatori in Tecniche di Ottimizzazione della Performance Sportiva. L’obiettivo è duplice:

  • Migliorarne le competenze psicologiche in qualità di specialisti della Prestazione.
  • Ottimizzare le loro abilità nel supportare gli atleti a costruire un profilo vincente in ogni impegno della vita sportiva.
Il Master prevede tre moduli formativi:
  1. Auto-sviluppo - Sviluppare le risorse dell’allenatore e la sua comprensione psicologica degli sport.
  2. Eccellenza - Identificare le aree di miglioramento dell’allenatore e sviluppare un piano di azione personale.
  3. Leadership - Conoscere e applicare gli stili di leadership più efficaci.
E’ l’inizio di una nuova impresa. Chi desidera avere più informazioni può visitare il sito di Psicosport.

Juventus: Moments that destroy a season

Fabio Capello analyzed the mistakes made by Juventus against Porto in the first and second matches, not sparing a harsh criticism towards Cristiano Ronaldo: “The first goal in the first match was a gift, great inaccuracy in the second, you can’t concede certain goals. The penalty kick tonight was another gift. Demiral was too naive, you cannot try to anticipate, it is a very serious mistake. But the top is this. Cristiano Ronaldo jumping and turning in the barrier. Whoever is in the barrier cannot be afraid of taking a hit. It is an unforgivable mistake that has no excuse”.

Capello is completely right and reiterates the concept that besides the play of a team, in soccer it is the single episodes that determine the result of the match and in this case the elimination from the most important European competition for a soccer team.

But … if this is the situation, how can these mistakes be avoided. Above all, those of Bentancur and Ronaldo, absolutely avoidable mistakes that have changed the evaluation of an entire competitive season.

The problem is not so much the distraction in itself but the effect it has. This is what the players should remember before acting in this way.

Superficiality or even presumption that nothing so bad can happen.Probably team also not very united, there does not seem to be someone with the role of keeping high the attention in these moments.
Probably team also not very united, there does not seem to be someone with the role of keeping high attention in these moments.

Porto has deservedly won because it has been more consistent in keeping the attention high, Juventus has shown too many ups and downs and consequently has paid these moments of distraction.

How much does Juventus train to avoid these episodes from happening? Moments that destroy a season.

Ibrahimovic at Milan:will he lead the rebirth?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play for the next 6 months at AC Milan. There’s a lot of talk about the reasons of this choice on the part of the Club: “Is he too old (38 years)? “He was retired in Los Angeles, how will he fit into the Italian championship?”.

Only he can know if he will be the Savior of the homeland, taking the leadership to lead Milan on the pitch with his fighting attitude, playing the role of Chief in the locker room and in the match. It seems to me, that this is the challenge he would have accepted, choosing to come back and play in Milan. In this way we will have the chance to see if his famous statements continue to represent him or if they too will have aged:

“I don’t accept losing, I just don’t accept it. I learned it from life. For me, determination and aggressiveness, determination and concentration on one’s goals count. I have the mission to win”.

“I am the seventh strongest player in the world. Maybe in twelve years I’ll be the sixth.”

Anyway, good luck! And may it really be a positive life experience, because beyond all economic considerations, the matches show who you are and your personal ambitions.

How the coaches have to build cohesion

In this early period of the team games season, I am often asked how to improve the cohesion of a team especially by the coaches who work in junior teams and and also not professional teams. I make this distinction because among these coaches there is a widespread idea that having little time available, everything that goes beyond the technical work done in the field is unnecessary work, which we do not have time to do, precisely because: “We are not a professional team, where the players are always available.”

This attitude is the motivation that drives many coaches to believe that the players must adapt to their working method and the hierarchies proposed. Physical and technical/tactical preparation are the masters and if someone doesn’t agree, it’s worse for him/her.

Leadership is essentially manifested in the administration of a training program that must be followed without discussion. They start from correct considerations (limited time, reduced economic resources, not optimal hours for training) to arrive at wrong conclusions. Those who do not accept this approach are usually labeled as lazy, unwilling to make sacrifices or presumptuous.

Unfortunately for them, the culture of work and team cohesion are essential factors in a team sport and are not built with this approach. Team performance instead draws its strength from the daily training of the concept of US: the winning performance comes from the integration of the behavior of various players, teaching more players to do different things well, together and at the same time.

Coach has to:

  1. Encourage participation by listening to the players’ suggestions
  2. Avoide favouritism
  3. Reward altruistic behaviour
  4. Reduce individualistic behaviour
  5. Assign challenging and achievable goals to each player
  6. Assign each player a specific role
  7. Encourage a learning and collaborative training climate
  8. Stimulate maximum commitment and constantly reinforce it
  9. Always support the team when it is in negative momentum
  10. Spend time with athletes to evaluate their commitment to training
  11. Analyse coldly with the team the results of the matches

The question for coaches is: how much time do you spend developing these performance factors?

Tom Izzo and his intimidating leadership

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo had to be restrained by his players from going after freshman Aaron Henry.  The heated exchange came after a 10-0 run by the Spartans.

Izzo was furious with Henry for an unknown reason.  From the looks of it, this isn’t the first time he’s gone in on the young forward.

“Coach is filled with passion and emotion and love, you know, those are the main things that make him as great as he is,” Winston told reporters Friday. “When he’s getting after you or when he’s yelling it’s never out of harm. It’s never out of hate. It’s literally him wanting the best for you and him challenging you and pushing you the best you can be and it’s worked for years and years and years.

There should be no place for abusive, threatening & intimidating leadership–anywhere! If Michigan State coach Tom Izzo “leads” like this in public, what does he do when no cameras are present?

Tom Izzo Has to be Held Back from Going Full Bobby Knight on One of His Players

Mourinho winning mind

Lead the men - “Football for me is a human science, above all else.”

The coach is a global leader - “A coach has to be everything: a tactical, motivator, leader, methodologist, psychologist.” “A teacher at the university told me ‘a coach who knows only football is not a top level. Every coach knows football, the difference lies in other areas. He was a teacher of philosophy. I got the message.”

Football is global - “I do not do physical work. I defend the globalization of work. I do not know where it starts the physical part and end the psychological and tactical side.”

Customize communication – Adapting communication to each individual it is the most difficult task of a coach and he has to know how to challenge the players’ emotions.

Know the men - “There are many ways to become a great manager … but above all I think the hardest thing is to lead men with different cultures, minds and quality.” At Inter conceded a holiday to Wesley Sneijder who was exhausted. “All the other coaches have spoken only of training,” said Sneijder. “He sent me to the beach. So I went to Ibiza for three days. When I came back, I was willing to kill and die for him.”

Men are chosen - He believes in a 24-team players because this shows that every one of them has been chosen and will play a significant role for the team even if they are not famous.

Stimulate the players to understand -He stresses the tactical work, the coach is not a ‘transmitter’ and the team is not a ‘receiver’. He uses the method of ‘guided discovery’; the players reveal how to play based on the information they receive, from practical situations that will lead them on a certain path. ”

Constant focus on the mind - He is focused on the emotional , cognitive and interpersonal players’ dimensions. In this way the players, instead to follow the instructions as the pupils at school, develop the play ideas led by this mental approach to the game.

Teamwork and collective awareness - “I work with the players on a daily basis and I know those who are committed to the maximum are able to do well, while those that are not working properly are not able to play well. You play as you work, and I can say it straight to each player.

Working with intensity - Short training sessions and the presence of the ball encourage players to work at their maximum level of motivation and energy. He constantly pay attention to the mistakes and provoking the players if they make mistakes repeatedly.

Alex Ferguson’s winning rules

Alex Ferguson represents the history of football and a model of leadership studied all over the world. Below his ideas as he has told in his autobiography.
The construction of a football team - It must start from the youth activity, in order to build continuity in supplying players to the first team. The players grow together, producing a bond that, in turn, creates a spirit.
Inspire people to improve - “I have always been very proud to see the younger players as they develop.” In this way the work of a coach is similar to that of a teacher. He teaches the technical skills, the winning mentality and better people. This determines in young loyalty to the Club, since they are aware of the opportunities they have received.
Plan the future - The are players more than 30 years, those between 23 to 30 years and the younger. The success of a team is about four year cycle, and then changes are needed. The aim is to always know what is the team that you’ll want to have with an advance of a few years and decide accordingly.
Each training session is important – It must always be maintained a high training standards. They are important the motivational talks, team building, all the preparation of the team and talk about tactics. Do not ever allow an unsatisfactory training session. What you see in training occurs on the playing field. You always need quality, concentration, intensity and speed.
The talent always works hard – From the talents it must be expected a lot more than the others during the workouts. They should prove to be the best.
The locker room atmosphere must be always safeguarded – You have to wonder if someone is spoiling the atmosphere of the locker room, the team’s performance, and the control of the players and staff. If this happens you have to cut the cord. There is absolutely no other way. It does not matter if the person is the best player in the world. The long-term vision of the club is more important than any individual, and the coach has to be the most important in the club.
Encourage players - Nobody likes to be criticized, and there are few players who improve with criticism.  They should be encouraged. For a player, like any human being, there is nothing better than listening “Well done.” They are the two best words to listen. It is not necessary to use superlatives.
Correct the mistakes immediately - At the same time, in the locker room, it is necessary to indicate the mistakes when the players do not meet the expectations. This is when the criticism is important, immediately after the match, without waiting on Monday. After this time, you think about the next game and everything begins again.
In training we need to repeat – During the sessions the technical skills and tactics must be repeated.  The aim of each session is to learn and improve. This must be done even if the players can think “Here we go again”, because these repetitions help to win.
Manchester United style - Be positive, adventurous and take risks.
The observation - It’s an essential element of the skill management. The ability to see things is the key, more precisely, it refers to the ability to see things that you do not expect to see.
Change is a rule to follow - Typically who win does not think to change. It’s just the opposite. “We had to be successful — there was no other option for me—and I would explore any means of improving. I continued to work hard. I treated every success as my first. My job was to give us the best possible chance of winning. That is what drove me.”