Archivio per il tag 'Human Kinetics'

Recensione libro: Soccer Speed

Soccer Speed

Richard Bate and Ian Jeffreys

2015, pp. 216

Champaign, IL,  Human Kinetics

Why is Speed so important in today’s soccer?

Definitely during its history, soccer has changed in the rules of the game, in sportswear and footwear, in game organisation. But there are other key factors that differentiate modern soccer:

  • Today’s game is quicker; specifically, both ball speed (as it travels from player to player) and players own movements are much faster than they were even just 10 or 15 years ago.
  • Players now regularly cover distances between 9-14 km per game, because they are running faster and moving more often.
  • The game features of today’s attack are the accuracy and speed to pass the ball.
  • The typical characteristic of a player has also evolved into a quicker, more agile and physically sculpted athlete.

So Speed is a vital commodity for players who want to maximize their performance.

In soccer we’re talking about Game speed, in other words the speed requirements for soccer are different compared the practice by track athletes; indeed, the player during the game moves in an open environment in which distance, direction and starting pattern all vary from moment to moment. In addiction, the athlete’s movements need to be linked with game skill requirements. Maximum speed and Acceleration (two important terms related to running speed) are performed to accomplish a soccer-specific task, such as shooting, tackling, dribbling or passing. Players are also required to change direction more than a 1000 times per game, exactly every 6-7s. Those directional movements are closely linked with the high speed actions. So it’s important the development of Agility too. For modern players Speed and Agility are two key components that contribute to the ultimate quality of performance.

Speed is important for decision making of players. The game rarely presents exactly identical situations, especially in free play, so the abilities to think and decide at speed, to act at speed, and to change decision at speed are crucial to “build” an intelligent player.

Development of Speed and Agility starts with young players coaching, remembering the essential of sensitive phases, in other words the “fertility” moments of development of physical abilities. We can start to stimulate the abilities of reaction and movements frequency (Cyclic speed) at 6 years old, even if the peak is between 9-11 years old. The rapidity of isolated movements (No-Cyclic speed) and Acceleration have their sensitive phase during 11-14 years old. After those years Speed and Agility will tend to stabilise and then decrease. So it’s vital to create right training programs that help players to maintain this capacity to high levels, remembering and following the elements of a Game speed program (technical and physical development) and the right Game speed exercise progression.

(di Michele Rosci)

Recensione libro: One Goal – The mindset of winning soccer teams

One Goal

The mindset of winning soccer teams

Bill Beswick

Human Kinetics, 2016, p. 222

What I liked more in the book titled “One goal” by Bill Beswick is the great passion and competence that he shows in every chapter. The goal of this book is to describe why/how a psychologist has to be committed in this kind of job. The answer is that there are a lots of things to do, but only if you are passionate. This means that what you read inside, you cannot in any other book concerning performance psychology, because is coming from the application of the expertise and passion to a specific context. The second reason to read this book comes from the several professional examples that Beswick provides in each chapter. This approach is relevant because the young professional has to know that the consultant job with a team needs these skills. It means that our knowledge science-based need to be translated in terms to be useful in the everyday job with the team, the players and the head coach and probably with the team managers too. The book goes around a main focus based on two interrelated concepts: the positive environment supports the fighter mentality. Therefore the team has to share a unifying identity and culture and it must be very well clarified that the positive results come from this homogenous mindset and the viceversa is never true. So the team culture is based on common: effort, enthusiasm, execution and endurance. First the attitude, than any other specific competence (strength or focus or game schema).  At this regard, Beswick say:

“Arguably, the most successful team in international sport, the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team, clean their own locker-room after the game, showing the humility that is common to many great teams.”

Another relevant topic concerns how the coach teach individual and collective responsibility, in the first part of the book there many ideas that a coach can use to work on it, to reach this important goal. In the second part the main topic is presented in the chapter titled “Fostering coachability.” It’s a key attitude to develop a winning career. The players’ progresses depends on their coachability, that is the relatively stable position to be involved in the process of continuous improvement independently from the current skills, performance level and roles. Another important point is related to the players’ personal accountability and I agree with the Beswick’s  Ten key elements of the accountability cycle (goals and standards, reminders, culture, learning environment, accepting justified criticism, regular feedback, thunderbolts, internal challenge, can’t do or won’t do?, accountability without blame). If the team and the coach will respect these rules they will show an higher threshold for alibis, becoming more accountable and successful.  As Michael Jordan said:

“the better players learn to say «I played bad but tomorrow I’ll play better». A lot of younger players are afraid to admit they have bad nights but everybody has bad nights and it’s how you rebound from those bad nights that dictates what kind of player you are going to be.”

The third part of the book is about competition and the key words are competing cohesively, the momentum, pressure, overcoming adversity, repeat success. Also in this section Beswick shows how to apply the psychologist’s professional skills to work with a constructive approach in the most competitiveness situations, because “pressure is nothing more that the shadow of a great opportunity.”

Recensione libro: Soccer science

Soccer Science

Tony Strudwick (Editor)

Human Kinetics, 2016, p. 649

The book is very interesting for the reason that it provides to the reader a global and in the same specific vision of what soccer is today, played by 250 million of persons in more than 200 countries. It’s the world’s most popular sport. Goal of the book is to describe how to use the scientific principles to optimize the players’ performance and the preparation. All the chapters are relevant for soccer  but in my review I selected the chapters and the topics that could be more useful for the sport psychologists. The section 2 concerns the talent selection and the player development. In the Mujika and Castagna’s chapter, titled “Practical aspects of player selection and development”,  emerges very clearly that in soccer the relative effect age continues to be a resource to select the players, influencing the drop-out at the age of 12 years and not giving the consideration needed to the role of maturation in the player development. The authors conclude that the talent identification continues to be a critical point in soccer. The following chapter by Unnithan and Iga, titled “Development of the young soccer player”, treats the development of the young soccer players, it’s an updated presentation about the integration among growth, maturation, demands of match and the physiological components concerning the youth soccer players. From the side of sport psychologist also the contribute by Paul Ford, titled “Skill acquisition and learning through practice and other activities”, provides many useful and updated information. He reviews the perceptual-cognitive skills and the decision making processes involved in what in soccer is called “reading the game” and “affecting the game.” These two processes run in parallel and interact together. The chapter presents also the two categories of activities practiced during the training to improve these skills; the drill-type activities (focused on technique and skills) and the game-based activities (containing match-like situations). The author provides also information about the situation where the players use the fast thinking, so called intuition, compared to slow thinking, called reasoning.

In the world are produced each year 85 million balls and one chapter by Andy Garland and Henry Hanson has been published in this book: “Soccer ball dynamics.” Topics like the history of soccer ball development, material, design and construction, social responsibility, ball performances are presented. Other parts of the book regard the soccer biomechanical and physiological aspects and demands, the conditioning programs, the nutritional needs, the environmental  stressor, (altitude, temperature), soccer boots and playing surfaces.

The first chapter devoted to sport psychology is by Geir Jordet, titled “Psychology and elite soccer performance.” He identified 11 key skills showed by the players. They refer to self-determination, motivation, recovery processes and learning from mistakes. A second level of competences regards the players’ interpersonal skills and the ability to be adapted at the new contexts. A third level is composed by different conditions to cope with (adversity, pressure, success). The last emerging factors are the control game dynamics trough the anticipation processes, about what is going to happen in few seconds and the desire to innovatively provide, following the Anders Ericcson’s words, “a unique innovative contribution”. The second chapter of this part by Matt Pain, titled “Mental interventions”, is about the 5Cs mental of toughness regarding the assessment and the development of the following skills: commitment, communication, concentration, control, confidence. It’s the model used by Football Association in England to develop the youth’s psychological competences. The chapter provides case studies based on one-to-one work with players, coaching interventions and team practices to develop this mental approach. Its interest is in numerous practical situations proposed and developed to cope with these five mental skills. The third and last chapter is by Mark Nesti, titled “Performance mind-set.” The author identified four key topics as important for sport psychologists and coaches, they are: anxiety, identity, critical comments and life beyond the training ground. It must be noted that compared to the two contributes these chapter is more based around the authors’ professional experiences with several teams of the English Premier League. Nesti worked more in one-to-one situation with players and coaches than with team, for the concrete limitation to engaging in group works in professional teams. The author said that this approach was useful to meet better and in deep the needs of the players and the type of challenge they had to face. The last two parts of this book are related to the Tactics and strategies (four chapters) and Match performance and analysis (four chapters). It’s a very informative book useful for all are involved in soccer at different levels.

Book review: Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology – 6th Edition

Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology 6th Edition

with Web Study Guide

Daniel Gould and Robert Weinberg

Human Kinetics, 2015, p.649

As the leading text in sport and exercise psychology, “Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Sixth Edition With Web Study Guide,” provides a thorough introduction to key concepts in the field. This text is for me the best manual about this topic integrating updated research data and professional tools regarding sport and exercise.

The book is organized in seven-part and key points are highlighted throughout to help readers to learn the main concepts.

Part I – Beginning your journey – Introduces the sport and exercise psychology definition, its history the differences between these two specialties, providing an international perspective of the present and future trends.

Part II – Learning about participants – is devoted to understand the personality studies and its measures, identifying the relation between cognitive strategies and success and the role of the expert in understanding personality. Others two chapters talk about the motivation and the relation between self-regulation (arousal, stress, anxiety) and performance. There is always the focus regarding how to apply these knowledges in professional practice.

Part III – Understanding sport and exercise environments – comprehends two chapters one about competition and cooperation and the other on feedback and motivation. To the PE teachers and coaches provides a lot of useful information theory based about the interpersonal relation with their pupils in the different settings (sport, physical education and exercise).

Part IV – Focusing on group processes – is another section focused to provide theoretical and practical information on  group management, leadership and interpersonal communication

Part V – Improving performance – is probably the section more useful for all the practitioners or motivated to be involved in program of mental coaching. There are five chapter on arousal regulation, imagery, self-confidence, goal setting and concentration. From my side the most important content of this part is the first devoted to explain what, why and who should conduct psychological skills training programs.

Part VI – Enhancing health and well-being – this topic has become increasingly important in the last 20 years and the authors have devoted four chapters, regarding: exercise and psychological well-being, exercise and behavior adherence, athletic injuries and psychology, addictive and unhealthy behaviors, burnout and overtraining.

Part VII – Facilitating psychological growth and development – is a section with different topics such as children and sport, aggression in sport, and character, fair play and good sporting behavior.

It also includes web study with: 21 video demonstrations of sport psychology techniques, 30 interviews with leading experts and 89 interactive activities.

Recensione libro: Physiology of Sport and Exercise

Physiology of Sport and Exercise

(Sixth Edition)

W. Larry Kenney, Jack H. Wilmore & David L. Costill

Human Kinetics, 2015, p.627

Physiology of Sport and Exercise, Sixth Edition With Web Study Guide, frames research findings in physiology in a reader-friendly format, making this textbook a favorite of instructors and students alike. This resource offers a simple way for students to develop an understanding of the body’s abilities to perform various types and intensities of exercise and sport, to adapt to stressful situations, and to improve its physiological capacities.

I agree with these Publisher words and going back to my job as sport psychologist I believe that each colleague, young or with more years of practice, could significantly enrich his/her professional expertise reading this book. For this reason I believe that its weak side is in the brief space devoted to the relation between the Central nervous system, the Autonomic  nervous system and  the other physiological functions. Concerning this topic to provide a more specific psychophysiological knowledge could be very useful for all working in sport and exercise to fully understand the relation between mind and body.   Globally the book treats the main topic of sport and exercise physiology. It’s divided in seven parts concerning: exercising muscle, cardiovascular and respiratory function, exercise training, environmental influences on performance, optimizing performance in sport, age and sex considerations in sport and exercise, physical activity for health and fitness. For the sport psychologists contains a world of relevant information. The first are related to the main concept that usually are in coach and athlete words, like VO2max, lactate, regulation of carbohydrate metabolism, kcal/min, blood lactate concentration, aerobic exercise, glycogen depletion, peripheral or central fatigue, acute exercise, HRmax and so on. Psychologists have to know the meaning behind these words to stay on the same track with them. Second from part 3 to 7 all these sections aspects of sport and exercise that can have an impact also on the practice of our colleagues. For instance part 6 is totally devoted to the sport and exercise through the different phases of our life. The same it can be said for part 7, here the topic is the prescription of physical exercise to recovery and reduce specific pathology and to improve the wellness in the population. For these reason I recommend this book to my colleagues in sport psychology.

Written by a team of distinguished researchers, all past presidents of the American College of Sports Medicine, this updated sixth edition has been enhanced with new elements to facilitate learning comprehension. The redesigned photos, illustrations, and medical artwork of the fifth edition that clarified difficult concepts and illustrated how the body performs are now complemented by new digital components. Seven animations have been added, bringing the total to 25 and providing a dynamic way to experience course material. The 60 audio clips provide explanations of complex physiological processes to aid students’ understanding of important illustrations in the text, and 29 video clips from leaders in the field discuss recent developments and real-world applications to help students connect theoretical and practical concepts. Corresponding icons throughout the text notify students when digital elements are available to complement the materials.

Recensione libro: Enhancing Children’s Cognition with Physical Activity

Enhancing Children’s Cognition with Physical Activity

Phillip D. Tomporowski, Bryan A. McCullick, and Caterina Pesce

Human Kinetics, 2015, p.241

Enhancing Children’s Cognition with Physical Activity represents a very innovative book about the children development. Its real value consists to describe and explain specifically the strict integration between movement, cognitive processes and scholastic performances. It’s my opinion that every school teacher, youth coach and psychologist (not only sport psychologist) have to read it to understand fully the children growth processes. The authors explain that: “the central focus of the book is on methods of teaching physical activity games in ways that promote learning. Our teaching methods and games are firmly rooted in theory and research drawn from many disciplines: child development, neurobiology, psychology, and teacher education. As a result, you can be confident in offering these games to the children entrusted to you.”

The book is organized in a first part representing the theoretical section where all the aspects concerning the mental development and its relation with the movement and performances are described. Therefore in the same time the Authors coniugate research data and games to be played by the children. The second part is centered on translating research into practice to help teachers put into action the material presented in the first part of the book. The challenges involved in developing, implementing, and assessing the effectiveness of physical activity games are discussed. The third part provides games for preschool- and kindergarten-age children between 3 and 6 years of age and for elementary school–age children between 7 and 11 years of age.

In my opinion, the main topics theoretically presented regard the executive functions of the cognitive processess and the data concerning the relation between the participation to physical activity programs and the school performances. The executive functions  concern “the capacity to think before acting, retain and manipulate information, reflect on the possible consequences of specific actions, and self-regulate behavior.” Anticipation, memory and self-regulation are too important and the Authors have been able to illustrate their relevance in a specific way, that I did not find so well explained in other books. Second, since this chapter the teachers will be aware of the relevance to teach not only the movement technical side ma also its cognitive components. Third form the data it seems clear that in the school with more PE minutes the children improve more their school performances.

Last but not least important characteristic of this book is the presentation and explanation of all the games proposed in the following sections and their age distinction.

Recensione corso online: Marathon Training

Marathon Training

Randy Accetta and Greg Wenneborg

Human Kinetics

Course online

Marahon Training is a course online with an e-book including training strategies for novice marathoners and novice, experienced and competitive runners alike. It is organized in seven main chapters describing the key factors for marathon training, how to use three training efforts, and how to design a complete training plan including daily workouts. The readers will also learn how to design a complete 16-week marathon training programme for each of the four general categories of runners using a periodized program.

It is a book useful not only for coaches but also for sport psychologists for  the reason that it describe the mental aspects of the marathon. For instance the autors write: “Training for a marathon requires patience, goal oriented and focused training, and personal and physical sacrifices that are not as necessary in shorter race distances.” The authors show to understand very well the great commitment required to train at least 4 days a week a long period before to be able to run a race.

For this reason they say that “a large part of the romance associated with the distance is the commitment to the task. Training week after week for months on end often becomes a sort of spiritual an therapeutic endeavor for many people.” They are very realistic in the training approach probably because they know that this text is more oriented to provide information to build a marathon program for novices and beginners, and therefore they explain the relevance of: easy running for months, extension of long running and to start fast running only when you run more than 25 miles a week.

They talk about the mixt system “walk and run” and provide a 16 weeks program for the novices who would like to use this system to appoach the long distances. Another aspects they find useful for novices consists to have explained the psychophysiological positive role to practice a conversation pace running.

For the authors, novice runners are individuals who has never run before or they run less than 10-15 miles a week. They are usually excited about learning, they need daily advices not to run too much. One goal for them is to become aware of their body signals. Novice marathoners run more than 25 miles a week, may be they have already run a marathon in 4h30m and they want to break the wall of 4h. For this reason they have a good runner self-confidence but they need a lot of attention by the coach, because they suppose to know how to do. Experienced runners run between 25- 50 miles a week, may be they completed a marathon or may be not. They already followed a program but they need to be convinced to change it to improve. The competitive runners run over 60 miles including a long session each week. They need to start to believe in the new program proposed. They need a coach spending significant time quantity of counseling to move toward a different coaching program.

This are in my opinion the most important themes that a sport psychologist can learn from this course. Obviously the coaches will learn how to build a marathon program for these different kind of runners. Finally, I recommend this book also because it’s full of practical advices for the young coaches or those who are new in this track and field discipline.

Recensione libro: Golf Flow

Golf Flow

Master you mind, master the course

Gio Valiante,

Human Kinetics, 2013, p. 228 

In the title is already explained the goal the golfer has to achieve: let flow the mind and the shot will be good. The author, Gio Valiante was named one of the 40 most influential under-40 people in golf  by Golf Magazine and in this book he talks about flow not only from the theoretical point of view but also from the side of the PGA golfer experiences.

Reading Golf Flow we understand the mental side of golf. It could seem obvious because every person knows that golf is a mental game but here we find explained in which way  this happen; in which way the golfers use their time, practice the control, tune the effort and develop the awareness regarding the performance.  Valiante provides a great deal of current research  and he is never trivial when providing his advices. The amateur golfers reading this book will find many ideas to start their mental practice.

In my opinion the best part of Golf Flow is that one regarding the current top PGA pros, who talk through the author about their mental flow state, saying how much it permitted them to cope under pressure. This book may give the competitive golfers another tool to take their game to their highest level. The amateur golfers will find useful information coming from different top golfers and  from these different persons and experiences they can find that one is better for them.  The many professional insights about his work with the top golf are like this one:

“As it happens for many golfers, Justin’s instinct told him to go into Sunday and to be aggressive right to get-go. The details vary from golfer to golfer, but the philosophy is a cowboy version of golf that goes something like this: “Fire at every flag, go for par fives in two, be aggressive on every putt, and throw all strategy, patience, and ball placement to wind. I asked Justin to do the opposite and let patience and discipline define the round by using the first few holes to establish the rhythm of his routine.”

The book is full of these experiences and for this reason I believe that it’s very useful for the golfer of every level and for the coaches and sport psychologists who want to know better the mental side of the golf.


Recensione libro: Inside Sport Psychology

Inside Sport Psychology

Costas I. Karageorghis and Peter C. Terry

Human Kinetics Publisher, 2011, p.235

Karageorghis and Terry provide an excellent overview of sport psychology, regarding motivation, self-confidence, anxiety, emotion, concentration, visualization and self-hypnosis. Also mood and music on performance are well treated because they are one of the main authors’ interest. All the themes are presented not only from the scientific side but many anecdotes and exercises are included. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning about sport psychology or people looking to improve athletic performance or even to learn general mental skills for life.

In the first chapter entitled “Sport psychology applications” the authors talk about skill acquisition that underlie top performance and about the concept that too often the athletes’ performances are not very consistent during a season and the reason is most of the time related to a reduced mental preparation. At this proposal they ask to the readers to take a moment to reflect on all the excuses they commonly use to explain their worst performances. In this way, Karageorghis and Terry introduce the readers to one of the main aspects of book, that is to propose theories and psychological techniques but also exercises to practice in order to be actively involved in the topics treated. This permit to the readers to be inside the themes of each chapter and to read it in a ease way. The second chapter is about motivation and, after some theoretical introductions, he athletes are driven to identify their main strong and weak points and how to become totally involved, in a flow experience that represents the peak of the intrinsic motivation. The authors look also to the youth coaches when they explain about the relevance of a mastery climate during the training to sustain this intrinsic motivation, de-emphasizing  social comparisons. The following two chapters are about self-confidence and anxiety. Confidence is so important psychological factors that could increase or destroy the performance, starting from this suggestions the authors introduce the Bandura’s self-efficacy approach and try to propose for each of its dimensions practical strategies to improve and sustain the self-confidence using the athletes’ imagery and self-talk skills. The anxiety is treated following the best known approach to explain this phenomenon, its symptoms and responses and the main relaxation techniques to reduce it. Like for the other topics many example of great sport athletes are provided to show that to choke under pressure is something that happens also at the top performers. The book has one of the best explanation of the relation between mood and performance, the authors introduce this topic, show how to assess it and explain how they used it in the daily work with the athletes also before the most important events.  Relation between food and mood are also well described in a way that I believe all the readers will find very useful. Practical suggestions are also provided to show how the self-talk can be used to change the dominant mood in specific time. The chapter about concentration as the previous describe techniques for a better use of this skill; interesting is the section where the authors  provide the suggestions for future attentional training based on the use of new technologies and the web site to explore at this regards. To fulfill the athletes’ potential is necessary to practice visualization and self-hypnosis and the following chapter is devoted to these topics. The last one is about the power of sound, and it’s more related to the Karageorghis’s work in this field. It’s a very useful chapter because usually the sport psychology books talk only in general terms about the music role in training and before the beginning of sport events. We find inside the experiences of the athletes and for someone like the marathoner Paula Radcliffe the music helps her to do much harder workout, while for the double Olympic decathlon athlete, Daley Thompson, the music is not necessary because he is so immersed in his training. In any case, in the chapter the authors talk about the important relation between exercise intensity and preferred music tempo and provide a long list of popular tracks for sport and exercise and which are the useful web sites for planning music programs.