Tag Archive for 'rugby'

New Zealand: one project to change the youth sport approach

Youth sport, the need for multi-sports practice, the drop-out causes, the increase in injuries and the parents, coaches and managers role. These are the themes of one project developed in New Zealand to reconsider the approaches used up to day. It is an approach not used in Italy but I suppose that is the same in many others European countries. We need to be more responsible of the sports proposal we offer to our children and adolescents. We need to reduce sport drop-out  in order to promote their well-being, sense of belonging and good life habits.

Reading the following article will certainly be useful to open our minds to the problem of sports practice and drop-out and to receive good insights..

Sport NZ and five of the largest participation sports in New Zealand – Rugby, Cricket, Football, Netball and Hockey – have launched a major public awareness campaign calling for enablers of youth sport to reconsider their approaches. But why is the call to action so urgent?

The collaborative ‘Keep up with the play’ campaign zeroes in on the issue of why teens are walking away from sport in increasing numbers. Evidence gathered over time in Sport NZ’s Active NZ national participation survey shows that when comparing 12-14 year olds with 18-24 year olds, hours per week engaged in physical activity drops from 12 to 5. In addition, the number of activities drops from 6.4 to 2.5 and weekly participation drops substantively from 98% to 75%. The campaign calls on everyone involved in youth sport, specifically parents, coaches and administrators, to help turn this around.

Furthermore, Secondary School Sport census data shows that although school rolls have increased over the last three years, participation has dropped in inter-school sport. For Sport NZ this is disturbing, because habits formed in the teen years transfer to the adult years. Basically inactive teens become inactive adults.

Although some of the drop-off can be attributed to the inevitable changes that occur during the teen years including motivation, contention on time and the impact of technology, there are other factors that exacerbate this decline.

Sport NZ says that years spent studying the subject, and examining overseas models, shows young people are best served when their needs are put first. And the main motivation for young people to play sport is to have fun (76%) followed by hanging out with family or friends (44%). The fact is that sport is seen by many teens as another way to connect with friends and have a good time. And if the fun goes, because the pressure and time demands rachet up, they’ll be likely to follow.

Though some parents might be tempted to let their kids specialise early in one sport, perhaps encouraged by a coach or club administrator, the statistics show this is probably a bad idea. Australian studies demonstrate that the transition rate from being identified as youth talent to becoming an elite athlete is less than 10%.

And it won’t necessarily be worth it. Over training and over playing can lead to injury and burn out in young players. ACC statistics have shown a 60% surge since 2008 in sports-related injuries in 10-14 year olds – double the increase of any other age group. There are a number of reasons for the spike, but a growing concern is that too much of one sport can be just as harmful as not enough exercise.

For those looking for a helpful guide, ACC encourages the one hour for every year guideline, where the amount of organised sport per week – both training and competition – should not exceed the child’s age. Exceeding recommended hours increases the odds of a ‘gradual onset injury’.

All in all, the stats are sobering. And though every parent wants to support their child becoming a star on the sports field, too much too soon may have just the opposite effect.”

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?

Bullying program in rugby

Mental disorders among rugby players

Another study showing again that the mental disorders are very common in the professional sports.

Abstract. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of symptoms of common mental disorders among professional rugby players across countries. A cross-sectional analysis of the baseline questionnaires from an ongoing prospective cohort study was conducted. Nine national players’ associations and three rugby unions distributed questionnaires based on validated scales for assessing symptoms of common mental disorders. Among the whole study sample (N=990; overall response rate of 28%), prevalence (4-week) of symptoms of common mental disorders ranged from 15% for adverse alcohol use to 30% for anxiety/depression. These findings support the prevalence rates of symptoms of common mental disorders found in previous studies among professional (i. e., elite) athletes across other sports, and suggestions can be made that the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety/depression seems slightly higher in professional rugby than in other general/occupational populations. Awareness of the prevalence of symptoms of common mental disorders should be improved in international rugby, and an interdisciplinary approach including psychological attention should be fostered in the medical care of professional rugby players. Adequate supportive measures to enhance awareness and psychological resilience would lead not only to improved health and quality of life among rugby players but arguably to enhanced performance in rugby.

(byVincent Gouttebarge et al., Int J Sport Med)

Epic Haka to farewell legend Lomu


A fair play great story Twickenham

This picture, credit of Getty Images, tells a great story of the battle of Twickenham.

Collegamento permanente dell'immagine integrata

Sport learns from sport

The third time in rugby is the moment in which the opposing teams and fans gather to eat and drink together, exchanging thoughts and opinions, beyond who won and lost. The third time celebrating something more important than a competitive match:  mutual respect and fair play, all qualities that have made ​​this sport first in sportsmanship.

In recent years, youth and school division of Italian football federation has included in its official document provided to the clubs at the beginning of the seaon, the promotion of the third time: “The Youth and School Division promotes the organization of the Third Time Fair Play. During the Third Time “FAIR PLAY”, the two clubs and families make available to the participants snacks to share among them, spreading naturally the invitation to the coaches, managers and parents involved in the match. In this way, the Youth and School Division wants to disseminate the values ​​of fair athletic competition.”
The introduction of the third time in football has been much criticized because the less than correct behaviors that characterizes the Italian football, little befitting with the tradition of rugby fair play. I believe that young players do not need to pay the expenses of adult football and for this reason, if football does not know how to teach to himself the fair play, it must learn from those who have most deeply rooted traditions. I remember it to the presidents of the football schools, leaders, and parents who often forget that and even more often ignore the existence of the third time. It is not a theft of football, I see it rather as a sign of reflection of a sport first in popularity, which borrows from those who know more. Much of my work is to provide psychological tools to the adults involved with the young players to ensure that their sport experiences will be the best, and if  the tird time can be an additional tool to send a positive message, then we have to promote it. Today the professional soccer does not know how to sustain the third time, while children can do being an example for the players. People too often forget that real change can only happen in football from its roots: the football schools.

(by Daniela Sepio)

Book review: Le Mete dell’Allenatore

Le Mete dell’Allenatore

Flavia Sferragatta


Il libro di Flavia Sferragatta è particolarmente interessante per diverse ragioni. La prima delle quali è che permette di comprendere quali siano le implicazioni psicologiche del rugby. Chiunque voglia avvicinarsi alla conoscenza della componente mentale di questo sport, con questo libro, potrà sviluppare una conoscenza approfondita di questi aspetti. Un secondo pregio consiste nel trattarli dal punto di vista delle loro applicazioni professionali. In tal senso, allenatori e psicologi possono trovare descritti non solo gli atteggiamenti e le competenze psicologiche tipiche del rugby ma anche indicazioni operative “su cosa è meglio fare” in funzione degli obiettivi che s’intende perseguire. Un terzo aspetto centrale del libro risiede nelle molte citazioni di rugbisti e allenatori che permettono a Sferragatta di illustrare le tematiche psicologiche, con il risultato di fare emergere  in che misura allenatori e giocatori di alto livello sono assolutamente convinti del ruolo giocato dalla mente e di come le competenze interpersonali della squadra siano al centro delle prestazioni sul campo. Non ultimo aspetto positivo di questo libro è che si legge con facilità e piacere. Ciò non significa che i temi esposti siano semplici ma che l’autrice oltre a dimostrare un’approfondita conoscenza di questo sport e della psicologia ha saputo esporre il suo pensiero con chiarezza.

Debbie Jevans, a woman CEO of Rugby World Cup 2015

I publish with pleasure part of an article of Debbie Jevans, new CEO of England Rugby

“Women in sport is not rocket science. Women make up 50% of the population. Ignoring one half of the talent pool in this country does not make good business sense. Getting more women into senior positions in the sports industry is not a “female thing”. It is just common sense. The fact that our Rugby World Cup team is 50% female is great and is a result of interviewing widely and recruiting the best people – men and women – for the job. The barriers so often cited as reasons why women cannot progress in their careers, such as motherhood, are outdated. The workplace is changing. It is dynamic and flexible. In a modern world it needs to be. The leadership of any ambitious organisation has to be open-minded.

… UK Sport and Sport England set a target for all sports governing body boards to be made up of 25% female directors by 2017. For most of my life I have actively disagreed with targets and quotas for women but where a target can be helpful is that it shows ambition. And that is important.

Is 25% ambitious enough? I do not think so. Surely we have to be aiming at 50%, to reflect the population. I am absolutely not saying give women jobs for the sake of it. I would never advocate that. But I do think we need to create the opportunity for women to shine. And that is about sports organisations proactively encouraging women to join their workforce. Seeking out female talent when they are recruiting. The talent is out there, the problem is that too often the default position is to see jobs in sport as male. When you think of the many remarkable women working in British sport right now that attitude is misplaced. Just look at the talented women on this list.

… I believe that being an athlete has given me an essential skillset that translates into running an organisation. That is not just my view, a report published in America last year told a compelling story of women with sports backgrounds – from Hilary Clinton to Christine Lagarde – reaching senior positions in their industry.

I know absolutely that my own career as a tennis player has influenced the way I work today. As a player you could never go on court with anything left in doubt. If I hadn’t practised my backhand 200 times to take the ball earlier, I would be exposed in a match situation. The same thinking was applied in delivering the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We did not leave a stone unturned. And that is why I believe I have been successful in my career. I am always looking to learn and to improve – it is the athlete in me.”

From Ronaldo to Wilkinson to learn the need to have a pre-shot routine

Cristiano Ronaldo and Jonny Wilkinson show us with their ability in kicking the ball how important it is to have a routine whenever you are in a position to make a free kick in soccer or rugby. The video you find highlights the similarities between these two players and the need to train this skill. How many coaches teach their athletes following this procedure? In just a few!