Tag Archive for 'stress'

Youth distress also affects sports

When people talk about young people today, the term discomfort is always juxtaposed, showing that young people represent a problem. This is certainly a limited interpretation of the world of Italian youth. This does not detract from the fact that for many, discomfort exists and is also manifested in the increase in drug use among adolescents. In fact, ‘latest report to Parliament on addiction once again photographed the increase in drug use among 15- to 19-year-olds. Alarmingly, the percentage of high schoolers has risen from 18.7 percent to 27.9 percent in just one year. Cannabis alone involves 580 thousand adolescents (24%) from Nps, new psychoactive substances (10%): synthetic cannabinoids (K2, Yucatan Fire, Spice), synthetic opioids (codeine, morphine, fentanyl), ketamine, cathinones (amphetamines, ecstasy), which are often consumed along with alcohol.  People take drugs for fashion, rebellion, pleasure-seeking, distancing themselves from pain, normalization, “it is the honeymoon of those who have not yet paid the price of abuse,” says Massimo Barra, founder of the Villa Maraini community, who continues, “When you meet them, these kids seem like orphans, orphans of family, of enthusiasm, of meaningful relationships, of positive things, lost dogs without collars who need to talk, to do, to non-pathological people.”

Perhaps these young people do not play sports because it is possible that the effects of the drugs they have taken do not allow them to do so.

However, we should not think that playing sports makes one immune to negative psychological issues.The soccer scandal that has just begun shows us how young adults who have achieved their goal of becoming a professional footballer with a bank account with many zeros, are not at all happy and fall into the trap of gambling, of ludopathy.These are young people who experience a personal drama that finds its basis in personalities that are not very conscientious, not very socially responsible and have limited self-control.It means not having been educated against these pitfalls of life but also having a social environment around them that has not been able to guide them in their choices.

On the other hand, the adult sports world is not immune to serious shortcomings in fulfilling this formative role.A serious example of this failure is found, for example, in the sentencing of the gymnastics coach, who justified serious insults to girls as an excess of love. This ruling demonstrates the total ignorance of those who drafted it of scientific and cultural knowledge about the role of adults who lead young people. It is a precedent that will certainly be used in the future by those who use these sadistic methods of coaching.

Another disturbing fact concerns the low participation of young people with disabilities in sports.

This is a general problem that affects all young people, but for these young people the seriousness of the lack of opportunities is even more evident.It is not known how many young people with disabilities in Italy are involved in sports and how many are sedentary.In Latium alone there are about 22,000 young people with disabilities enrolled in compulsory schooling, I personally do not believe that the practitioners are more than 20 percent.

There is no reason to hope that these situations will improve, in fact there are no national projects that propose different ways to address these issues.

What is pressure

Antonio Rüdiger: “Where I come from, pressure is not about football. ⁠ ⁠ Pressure is not knowing what you will eat tomorrow. ⁠ ⁠

I mean …….. Pressure??? No, no, no. ⁠ ⁠

Every time I feel the slightest pressure when I lace up my boots before a football match, I think about a specific memory, and I am instantly at peace. ⁠ ⁠

The first time I ever went back to Sierra Leone with my parents after the civil war, we were riding in a taxi from the airport, and we got stuck in traffic. We were sitting there, not moving, and I was looking out the window at all the poverty and hunger. All these men and women were selling fruits and water and clothes and things by the side of the road to the people coming from the airport. ⁠ ⁠

And that’s the moment when I understood why my parents would never call our neighborhood in Berlin “the ghetto.” ⁠ ⁠ They would always say that it was heaven on earth.

And it wasn’t until I went to Sierra Leone that I finally understood their perspective, because this guy came up to our car selling bread, and he looked really desperate. We said, “No, no. We’re O.K.” ⁠ ⁠

Then another guy came up to our car selling bread, and he tried to sell it to us even harder. He was talking about how fresh it was. ⁠ ⁠ “No, no. Thank you.” ⁠ ⁠ Then a third guy came up to our car selling bread, and he was really hustling. He was talking about how this was the best bread in the city, and to please, please, please buy the bread from him. ⁠ ⁠

I think about this memory when I start to feel any pressure from football. Because the truth is that all three of those guys were selling the exact same bread, from the exact same bakery, to the exact same cars. ⁠

⁠ One of those families would have a plate of food on the table. ⁠ ⁠

The other two, maybe not. ⁠ ⁠

That is pressure. That is real life.’”

Effects of the sport participation in over50

Kim, A., Park, S., Kim, S., & Fontes-Comber, A. (2020). Psychological and social outcomes of sport participation for older adults: A systematic review. Ageing & Society, 40(7), 1529-1549.

This review presents a handful of studies that explored the psychological and social outcomes of sport participation among older adults.

Consistent with findings of previous studies, the included studies found that sport participation could enhance older adults’ life satisfaction, social life (e.g. comraderies, unique social networking, social belonging, a sense of community) and personal psychological status (e.g.personal empowerment, self-confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, self-efficacy, pride).

Two studies highlighted that the Masters Games and Senior Games participants valued competition itself by comparing their performance levels to others, pushing their bodies to attain a personal best, and enjoying the recognition and achievements.

One unique role of sport participation among older adults was that senior sport participants tried to resist the negative stereotypical views of ageing through sport involvement. Several studies found that continuing sport participation was meaningful for older adults to avoid and resist the view of ‘being old’. These older individuals expressed that continued involvement in competitive sport participation can delay and control the ageing process.

From a successful ageing perspective, this view is noteworthy in that it stimulates the older adults to be more physically active to stay healthier. Nevertheless, at the same time, several researchers highlighted the negative side of this type of view, implying that such a view can stigmatise and neglect individuals who are not physically active in public health policy.

Given that one of the most commonly identified outcomes were fewer depressive symptoms among children/adolescents, and reduced stress and distress among adults who participated in sport programmes, it was interesting that inconsistent results were found in the included articles among older adults. In fact, roughly 70 per cent of the sample (older master athletes who participate in a Senior Winter Games) reported pre-competitive stress. Five different types of stressor included performance, logistics, novelty, preparation and health, whereas the most common coping strategies were problem-solving, and seeking support and accommodation. It is well-known that stress affects one’s mental health, such as depression and hopelessness (e.g. Ciarrochi et al., 2002; Shavitt et al., 2016).

Even though three studies found that sport involvement tended to predict a higher level of life satisfaction, the causal relationship has not been fully examined. Aside from the level of sport involvement, a level of life satisfaction is also affected significantly by socio-demographic factors and socio-economic factors such as race, financial status, sense of community or religion-related social net- works.

Several studies  conceptualised and operationalised the construct of serious involvement and used senior athletes and pickleball players as one part of serious leisure participants. Serious leisure is distinguished from casual leisure based on six characteristics: (a) need to persevere at the activity, (b) development of a leisure car- eer, (c) need to put in effort to gain skill and knowledge, (d) gaining social and personal benefits, (e) unique ethos and social world, and (f) an attractive personal and social identity.

E- Sports: stress & videogames

Over the past century in sport psychology, stress has been a major topic of study.

One of the most cited definitions is by Selye (1956), who defines stress as “a nonspecific, activation response exhibited by the organism when faced with an unforeseen need or adapting to a disorganizing novelty.” Much is understood about the influence of stress in sports performance; however, little is known about what happens in an e-sports performance.

The most recent systematic review on stress in gamers comes from the University of Leipzig (Leis & Lautenbach, 2020), which collects 17 studies on stress in e-sports. Stress stems from:

  • internal factors – age, gender, previous experiences
  • external factors – game environment, presence of audience, game results

Stress in e-sports should be monitored at 3 different moments: baseline (resting condition), competition (the event) and post competition (post event). The levels of stress and activation depending on the type of video game and if it is a competitive or non-competitive session.

To lknow more read the full article by Emiliano Bernardi on Horizon Psytech & Games

Less sport, more youth distress

In this period we talk a lot about the positive role of sport for young people and the serious problems that this pandemic has exerted on its development, basically preventing the practice of sports in swimming pools, at school and in all contact sports.

In fact, youth activities that are not of national interest have been almost completely prohibited, and the activities of thousands of sports clubs have been stopped. This is a serious matter that no one has been concerned about and for which no one has been interested in finding solutions. I have already written about this several times and I have not read statements that emphasize a sense of community with those who work in schools and in sports, but only categorical statements that the gyms will no longer be available for sports. From a social point of view, the lack of sports as well as distance learning has increased the discomfort of young people and increased the frequency of states of anxiety, depression and conflict within families.

This dramatic situation and its negative effects on the health of young people is part of an Italian context that is extremely lacking in opportunities for young people to participate in sports. In fact, in our country only 50% of 15-17 year olds practice sports on an ongoing basis and only 41% of schools have a gym (with the highest peak in Friuli Venezia Giulia where gyms are in 57% of schools: therefore, a consistently low data).

Thus, the pandemic has disproportionately expanded an already serious problem. Pragmatic solutions would have been necessary, but instead solutions have been sought by using the same spaces (the classrooms) that obviously contradict physical distancing. The same goes for sports, we could have thought of forms of collaboration between sports clubs and the school to bring students to outdoor spaces to do physical activity. A country less bureaucratic and concerned with young people would have found solutions.

Psychology dominates in soccer, but not psychologists

There is a lot of talk about psychology in soccer and yesterday we heard Antonio Conte’s phrases on the anxiety of his players, Fonseca’s phrases on his team’s 20 minute blackout and Andrea Pirlo’s phrases on the winning mentality that Juventus must have. Some time ago Alessandro Costacurta had spoken about the emotional intelligence that should guide the players.

These phrases show how high is the sensitivity of this sport world on psychology, but the question is that they are less than the fingers of one hand those who work in a soccer club. Who deals with it in the team?The coach is the psychologist of the team, on the one hand it is a function that is quite usual for those who play a leadership role in any group, on the other hand it represents an additional degree of responsibility that he does not share with anyone because within the staff there is no sports psychologist.

This absence, obviously, is not of today but it is a constant with some exceptions. Currently, to my knowledge, only Juventus and Verona have one working with players.
It doesn’t get any better in the youth sport and in soccer schools where they are quite common but often with marginal roles.

We are very far from the role that the psychologist plays in the US club. Robert Nideffer and Kenneth Ravizza have worked for years with many American football and baseball teams. The coach behavior evaluation system in youth baseball was introduced over 40 years ago now. In soccer in the UK, Chris Harwood proposed a soccer academy coach development program based on psychological characteristics, which is now used by soccer clubs and is widespread in the English-speaking world.

In our country we are stuck with the experiences of individual professionals, few in number, and in any case the interest of clubs is scarce.

Miyazaki Yoshifumi forest therapy

shinrin-yoku? ”It’s an activity where people relax by synchronizing, or harmonizing, with the forest. The term was coined in 1982 by Akiyama Tomohide, director of the Japan Forestry Agency. The agency wanted people to visit Japan’s forests and relax. It was a way to increase the value of these lands.

I led the first experiment to study the effects of the practice on the island of Yakushima in 1990.

A new technique had just been developed to detect the levels of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, in saliva. We used that to measure stress and relaxation. “Forest therapy,” meanwhile, refers to shinrin-yoku backed by scientific data, and is a term that I coined myself in 2003.”

There are two reasons why we need it today. One is the shift to an artificial society. Although human beings and their direct ancestors have existed for approximately 7 million years, we have spent over 99.99 percent of that time living in nature. Our genes are adapted to nature, and they have not changed over the two or three centuries since the industrial revolution. Because we have bodies that are adapted to nature, living in modern society places us in a condition of stress.

The second reason is the shift to an information technology society based on computers. Interestingly, two years after the word shinrin-yoku was coined in 1982, the word “technostress” appeared in America. We have entered a secondary stage of stress.

Ebook: Be focused under pressure

TennisWorldItalia  presents the ebook “Concentrarsi sotto stress” (Be focused under pressure) by Alberto Cei.

Feel a sense of stability and solidity before playing a tennis match is crucial: sometimes the players (sometimes completely unaware) perform a deep breath, that often it’s nothing more than an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the match pressure. Even when they perform well their mind continues to be prey to unnecessary and harmful thoughts.
The ability to stay focused on the goal in situations of high stress can be built: training, perseverance and concentration are essential to achieve a level of optimum performance.
Alberto Cei in this text teaches the practice of centering and focusing.
Thanks to the techniques described in the book, anyone can learn to control stress to reach his/her best in the court whatever level you play.

Concentrarsi sotto stress: Come concentrarsi nei momenti decisivi di una partita di tennis

Tennis, mental breaks make losing matches

I am becoming convinced that for many young tennis players from which it would be realistic to expect better performances and  results than they get usually, one significant improvement factor lies in improving the training quality . In large part, it consists not to do different things but to practice with higher intensity and persistency; the same they would want to show in the court. During the match at the players isasked to play steadily and suitable for their level for a long period of time, while in training this request is often absent. Coaches and psychologists should work together to help the tennis players to fill this gap. The question is: “How can we play focused for at least 90 minutes, if in training this limit is never reached or if  the players accept that there are breaks in which the concentration is reduced to a minimum?”

If it’s true, as it is, that players are trained to repeat what they have learned in training in the match, repeating concerns not only the technique but also keep concentration, minimizing the mental breaks, which instead in the game often represent the main obstacle to play at the best.

The continuous improvement as successful strategy

The coaching to cope with the new challenges is an individual training. Its aim is to increase at the maximum level the personal competences, permitting at each one to become the best she can be.

The coaching is a road supporting the personal change, starting from a positive appreciation of the past performances and knowing that it is the continuous renewal that will permit to repeat the successes reached.

At this proposal it seems very specific the comparison between the manager skills and the top athletes skills because they have to perform at their best:

  • they have reached most of the goals expected and planned in advance and they are oriented to achieve their next performance goals
  • they are totally committed and very energetic in their activities
  • they perceive themselves accountable about the results of their/team performances
  • they are considered by the young collaborators/athletes as a model to emulate
  • they like the challenges, compete and win
  • they are solution oriented
  • they search the contribution of the people able to help them to reach their goals

It is obvious that it is not easy to reach all these skills in one person and also in the high potential people these characteristics come from a strong commitment in this direction. For them the frustrating days and/or the unsuccessful performances represent hard situation to cope with, but they know  the mistakes represent  good learning opportunities to approach with confidence.