Tag Archive for 'skill'

Is it possible to have fun when doing something difficult in which one is skilled?

It is possible to have fun when doing something difficult in which one is skilled. In fact, many people find great satisfaction and enjoyment in challenges that require their abilities and skills. Here are some reasons why this is possible:

  1. Sense of achievement - Overcoming a difficult challenge and completing a complex task can lead to a strong sense of achievement and personal pride. This sense of success can be very rewarding and enjoyable.
  2. Flow - People enjoy themselves more when they are in the so-called “flow state.” This state occurs when one is fully immersed in a challenging activity that requires skills and concentration. In this state, time seems to pass quickly, and one can experience a deep sense of pleasure.
  3. Competition - If you participate in a race or competition, the desire to win or improve can be very motivating and enjoyable. Competition can add an element of excitement and adrenaline to the experience.
  4. Personal growth - Facing difficult challenges can contribute to personal growth and the improvement of one’s skills. This sense of progress can be extremely gratifying and enjoyable.
  5. Passion and interest - When you are passionate and interested in what you are doing, even difficult challenges can be fun. Passion can fuel motivation and make the entire experience more rewarding.
  6. Social connection - Participating in a challenge or complex project with others can create a sense of community and social connection. Collaboration and sharing challenges can increase the enjoyment and satisfaction of the experience.
  7. Continuous learning - Facing difficult situations can result in continuous learning and the discovery of new skills. This learning process can be exciting and rewarding, as new knowledge and skills are acquired.
  8. Creativity - Solving complex problems often requires creative and innovative thinking. Finding unique and creative solutions can be a very enjoyable aspect of facing difficult challenges.
  9. Sense of purpose - Working on challenging and meaningful projects can give a sense of purpose and meaning to one’s activity. Knowing that you are contributing to something important can increase satisfaction and enjoyment in doing the work.
  10. Personal experience - Every difficult challenge is a unique personal experience. The process of overcoming these challenges can lead to precious memories and exciting adventures, which can be a source of fun and satisfaction when remembered later.

In summary, having fun while doing something difficult in which you are skilled can result from a combination of personal achievement, growth, social connection, continuous learning, and the discovery of new possibilities. These elements contribute to making the experience rewarding and fulfilling for many people.

However, it is important to note that not everyone finds it enjoyable to face difficult challenges. Some may feel stressed or anxious in such situations. The key is to find a balance between the challenge and personal competence so that you can fully enjoy the activity. Additionally, it’s important to manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way to ensure that the experience remains fun and satisfying.

The psychological skills of winning athletes

The psychological skills the athletes must show in competition and in training are often difficult to list, because the risk is to do a very long and too generic list. Nevertheless, today I would like to try to identify, from my point of view, the skills that can represent milestones in the athletes’ sport careers.

  • Self-control - it means knowing what are the behaviors to put in place to address the competition requests. The self-control requires respect for opponents; at the same time the athletes must be the leader of themselves, to overcome the difficulties posed by the races and opponents with the aim of providing the best performance.
  • Readiness for action - the athletes are persons oriented to act and therefore they must be ready to kick a ball, pulling a shot, to run in a precise rhythm, to anticipate opponents, to start rather than conclude effectively a race and so on. Readiness goes with high levels of situational awareness: the athletes have to know what to do at any given time and do it at their best.
  • Toughness and resiliency - I did not completely understand the distinction between these two psychological concepts, but I believe the athletes should continue to do the best even when they are tired, when all seems lost, during the decisive moments, at the end of the race, when they feel confused but know they have prepared an action plan for those moments.
  • Attention - Robert Nideffer said the attention is the only important thing in the decisive moments. I agree and, that is the reason, I consider it as the ability allowing to lead the mental commitment. The athletes have to know what to look for, knowing when to use a broad attentional style oriented toward the environment rather than a narrow attentional style, more focused on very few external factors. Without proper attention they cannot understand what is going to happen and to move in advance.
  • Optimism - The explanation of the performance results is an important factor, because it determines the expectation in relation to the future competitions. Humans are often engaged to explain their positive and negative results. It is therefore essential, the athletes develop an optimistic perception of their performances, because if they explain the positive results in term of luck or lack of competent opponents is unlikely they improve and gain a winning mind.

Toughness makes the difference between winners and losers

I was asked what is the decisive psychological characteristic for an athlete. My idea is that there are many skills that must be developed from the basic ones (self-control, imagery, constructive self-talk and learn from experience) to advanced covering such as stress management and the attention training to those relating to the lifestyle of the athlete.

But what makes the difference between winners and losers? Their reaction to competitive pressure, challenges and mistakes.

The psychological ability that emerges in these moments is the toughness; we can even call it perseverance, grit or resilience. Basically it means to compete or train at the best even after an error occurs, when tired, in times of greatest stress, when aware that you must do absolutely the best.

If they are not supported by toughness the other psychological skills will get worse. An athlete can have a good self-talk  but in decisive moments if not supported by toughness, his/her self-talk can become negative. An athlete knows what to look for and how to adapt him/herself to the race situations, but faced with an unexpected can lose this ability, if it’s not supported by the toughness, which is the conviction to be able to compete at the best in these moments too.

Therefore the question is: how and how often is trained this skill?

Book review: 7 Things We Don’t Know!

7 Things We Don’t Know!

Coaching Challenges in Sport Psychology and Skill Acquisistion

 Jean Fournier and Damian Farrow

 Mindeval Canada Inc, 2013


The link to read the first chapter is here: www.mindeval.com/en/

 7 Things We Don’t Know! is a book designed for progressive coaches who are motivated to consider and potentially adjust their current coaching or training programs so that they are getting the most out of contemporary Sport Psychology and Skill Acquisition research. I believe it will also relevant for the sport psychologists because the authors talk about coaching problem, imagery, cognitive processes like anticipation and attention from a perspective different from usual. In this way, many practitioners could start to think in a different way your daily job with athletes and coaches.

Second, what makes this book different from many other texts on Sport Psychology and Skill Acquisition is that the content is presented in the most applicable manner to coaches and athletes. It is written with a short and concise style, and numerous practical examples are provided to illustrate how the theories could be applied to practice.

The imagery is discussed in light of its practical application, it’s well explained the use of this skill must match well with the athletes’ needs, integrating this mental activity in the coaching sessions.  The second chapter is devoted to the use of mindfulness in mental coaching. Jean Fournier propose a mindfulness program based on his experiences in different sports and the pages on this topic illustrate his approach based on four steps: presentation of the method and assessment, mindfulness training, acceptance training and attention training. The third regards the thinking. He try to clarify: what does focus mean? The readers will find suggestions  to find the relevant focus point in different sports and different situations, to improve the focus in training and to apply all these things during the competitions. The following chapter is about  the use of the routines, it’s explained why they are useful in sports but there is a new aspect introduced in this presentation, regarding the use of mindfulness in the routine planned by the athletes. The next four chapters are written by the other author, Damian Farrow. His first chapter talks about the relevance of variability during training and the need to organize the drills in a way very near to the competition rules and development. It’s a chapter that I suppose very useful for the coaches, who must always to cope with the dilemma about necessity to integrate the repetitions and athletes’ motivation and about the relation between the standard repetitions and drills more similar to the game characteristics. In these pages Farrow provides information confirming the concept that the athletes learn to anticipate instead to be born with this gift and he talks about a number of training approaches to improve this skill.  Goal of the following chapter is to encourage coaches to use implicit coaching style instead to use only an explicit style. Farrow remember that probably the best implicit information an athlete can receive is the Nike motto: “Just do it.” The last chapter regards another relevant question: have the athletes need of a coach feedback provided in a real time? Today coaches with the help of the new technologies have the opportunity to provide information in real time with great precision. The problem they have to cope with regards their competences to use the correct timing without the risk to overload the athletes’ mind. Farrow talks about the definition of the bandwidth of correctness for a movement. Established this range of correctness the coaches will know exactly when to provide a corrective feedback.

Final comment: read this book with the spirit to find some new ideas for our work  and to change something in our approach with the athletes.

In every sport the competence showed during the competition is the key for the success (1)

Say that in sport the competence shown in the field is the key to have success, iy cannot be just a phrase on which we all agree. Should also be a topic of discussion, because I am convinced that each person gives a particular meaning to the term “competence” and that this is the cause of many mistakes that are made ​​in the training of athletes. We must therefore agree on the meaning of competence. For many, the competence is synonymous of skill and then perform a specific skill means to know how to do the technical gesture or a set of technical actions. For example in golf means that in field practice the golfe ris able to send the ball to 150m in the correct way and is able to repeat this action for a number of times in an effective way. The same goes for team games, so the player gets and passes the ball  to a teammate. Every athlete has acquired many of these skills during his daily training. But something is still missing because the ability will translate into competence. This additional aspect is the attitude of the athlete in the field. Attitude is the way in which a person shows himself, it is the behavior adopted by a person or a group in a given circumstance or with respect to other persons or groups or even with respect to events and problems.