Tag Archive for 'stress'

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.

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.