Tag Archive for '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.

What is mental readiness?

The mental readiness is based on the concept of resilience. Resilience is the capacity of an athlete to recover quickly, resist and perform at the best in front of the performance pressure and stressful situations.

Have you 15 minutes to change

Often an obstacle to change is represented by the conviction to have no sufficient time available to change. The athletes often answer in this way but also their coaches, who usually do not spend time for psychological preparation, because they think to  have already too many things to do. Once time to answer these objections I did long explanations about the importance of psychology and the efficient use of the mind. Then I found out that this answers had the only effect to reinforce the beliefs of my interlocutors, who continued to believe that they do not have time. At this point, I changed my approach. I started to respond by asking them if they had 15 minutes a day to devote to something else that was not the physical  and technical training. Of course they all said yes, and on the basis of this positive response was easier for me to explain how to organize a mental workout in that short period of time.

Juventus: from the abyss to success

Juventus had expected the test to be who it said it was and not a scary team in Europe. Juventus has due to arrive on the edge of the abyss to know its value. Juventus in this match has been fighting continuously. Now he must learn to think better as a team. After going ahead, it was expected that the Greeks would attack to get the equalizer and, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened after just two minutes. Be calm would allow him to predict the reaction of the opponent and get ready to fight it. In fact until the second goal Olympiacos Juventus played and it went on and on but in a confused way. Then the incredible happened, Juventus has changed his fate because the fighting has combined the strength and the conviction that it was possible to win. And that has made ​​all the difference compared to the first half. The next time it might find this state of mind before being at one step from the abyss, because the other teams do not always allow this type of recovery. A big step forward, but the European mentality does not exist yet.

Giovanni Pellielo: A legend of the olympic sports

Today in Granada Giovanni Pellielo won for the seventh time the right to participate in the Olympics. He finished 3rd at the Trap World Championships with an exciting track. In the qualification rounds, he scored 124 out of 125, finishing first with two other shooters. In the semi-finals took 14 out of 15 clay targets He had unbalance with another shooter, he immediately make a mistake and he competedi n a race against another shooter for the third place. Again 15 targets, he hit all the targets, while his opponent misses 3. With this result he also won the Olympic Quota to Rio at the first opportunity. If, as is likely, he will go to Rio it will be his seventh Olympics, where he won 3 medals so far. He’s the most successful athlete in the history of shooting, having also won 4 world and dozens of international competitions. He’s 44 years old.

The issues of the high level shooters

Today I am at a shooting international competition in Todi (Italy) and athletes of different nationalities, from Iran to Great Britain have asked me about their difficulties face in the race, here are a few:

  • What should I do first when for a while I forget what I have to do?
  • What do I do to remove the panic that sometimes comes over me?
  • What I have to do not think of breaking the target and be focused only on my performance?
  • Which are the skills of clay shooting champions?
  • How do I know I am ready before to start?
  • I have not always the same time to shoot, what I have to do to be more consistent?
  • After a mistake I get too nervous, how can I control myself better?

These questions highlight how the difficulties of international level athletes are specific and require that the sport psychologist has specific knowledge of this sport. As psychologists, we must not only provide global responses based on the idea that we must improve the confidence of these athletes, as these questions are asked by athletes who are the best in their country and are used to compete, but this in itself does not eliminate these difficulty.

What do you think?

What I learned from these Commonwealth Games

What I learned from the Commonwealth Games 2014:

  • was attended by 71 countries and 7000 athletes
  • there are many nations that I did not know (at least 5/6 around Australia and New Zealand)
  • for all the participants are as important as the Olympics and maybe more, because many athletes in this competition can aspire to a medal that at the Olympics would be almost impossible
  • as always win the athletes who best manages the competitive pressure and they are not always the best to do it.
  • even small countries like Cyprus can win 5 medals
  • small countries who win a medal are those in which the athletes are not influenced by the reduced size of their nation but  travel abroad to compete  regularly and frequently.
  • to win you must often compete at the international level in order to learn how to cope with the stress which increases wildly when you understand that you can really get into the finals and fight for a medal. Those who go beyond these moments can do it, otherwise they gets scared and collapses. And this is happened.

You need to compete very often

In sport, when you reach a high level of technical expertise allowing to be competitive, it needs to go to the next step that requires you to do a certain number of competition per year. Even in shooting sports, which are the ones that I participate in the Commonwealth Games,  before to compete in an event so important it’s  necessaryto have done at least 6/7 rcompetitions, the majority of which must be at the international level. In the case of athletes who made a few, it’s very difficult to succeed in this type of competitions, because they rarely have tested their ability to cope successfully under pressure. Only through the races, you train this skill to do the best in the most important moments. If not it’s easysy to succumb at the stress and provides a really bad performance. This reflection highlights not only the importance of an adequate psychological preparation to be carried out during these races, but also the need for planning annual competitive season which the athlete has to face.