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A story of a successful season: why Mental Coaching has been a great support

We are taking advantage of this general preparation period to share with you in more detail the benefits that Coach Gianpaolo and his Mental Coaching services have brought to Team Scirocco this year.


ORIGIN OF THE COLLABORATION

Last spring 2021, I was contacted by Gianpaolo and after talking for a few weeks about a mutual intention to introduce Mental Coaching services within Scirocco, we met in person for the first time for during  my tour in Manerba del Garda on the 23rd May.

Scirocco TF - Giampaolo and Alessandro Manerba

It was a pleasant and interesting meeting. I remember feeling positive and favourable to the ideas.
Once the morning training was over, we wanted to deepen our knowledge in a more personal way of our backgrounds in the world of athletics in Italy and abroad, of our experiences and above all, our sports philosophies. We immediately found a strong understanding and a shared mission:
“Bring  fun, confidence and optimism to Italian Athletics”.
Tour in Manerba del Garda Sunday 23 May 2021.

From that moment I understood that Gianpaolo could be a resource for our team.


THE FIRST INDIVIDUAL SESSION: INTAKE SESSION.

Between summer and autumn 2021 we worked on building the services to offer, up to the launch on the Scirocco website. With the arrival of the 2022 winter and the approach of the Italian indoor championships in Ancona, we decided to start the first introduction of Mental Coaching, also offering an invitation to Elisa Di Lazzaro and Hassane Fofana. We started with individual sessions called “Intake Session”, where you have the opportunity to:

  • Get to know each other, establishing trust, alliance and confidentiality
  • Understand if the session topics are related to coaching,
  • Learn how to build a Smart goal
  • Evaluate how long the journey to undertake together could last considering the goal/s you want to achieve.

Personally, I didn’t have a specific goal to work on, but I was very curious to take this path.

During the Intake session, we performed some fundamental exercises, including a time-line from which I was able to retrace the most important stages of my life on an imaginary time line and assign each of them a label of Up or Down depending on whether it was a positive or negative moment.

Another particular exercise that I remember is the wheel of life, in which you are asked to represent with a score from 1 to 10, the current level of satisfaction of some important areas of life: leisure, health, friendship, finances, etc.

The extraordinary thing is what happens immediately after filling in the wheel: you are asked to observe and comment on it freely. It is a unique opportunity to actually understand which areas of life need more intervention, and it helps us understand how to build and achieve our goals.

 

Example of the Life Wheel

Finally, a third useful exercise that I remember is the analysis of unique skills: an introspective comparison of strengths and weaknesses that helps us think about the reasons of certain satisfactions and dissatisfactions. During the Intake session, I was able to build a SMART formulated goal, that is, a specific, measurable, achievable, written and time-oriented goal.

I learned important conclusions about the current situation I was experiencing, what awaited me and what I wanted to achieve. Benefiting personally from this first meeting, Hassane and Elisa also wanted to have the same type of experience with Coach Gianpaolo and we established two other Intake sessions for Elisa and for Hassane.

I thought it was all a lot more abstract, but I could actually see a lot of highly practical calls. This is in my opinion something that we should emphasize and strongly promote in the future.

Coach Alessandro Vigo

THE LUXX PROFILE TEST: DEVELOPING TEAM MOTIVATION AND COMMUNICATION.

Track life is hard because it is made up of tiring training sessions, commitments, and sacrifices that can sometimes put everyone’s motivation to the test. In fact, it often happens that an athlete faces a difficult period characterized by a decrease in motivation. But how can a coach help in these moments?

Each of us is motivated by some particular internal factors called Motivational Factors or motives. What causes problems are often misalignments and different ways of feeling some of these motivations which in the medium to long term create frustrations and stress. It is therefore important to understand and identify which of these factors motivate us and which demotivate us.

Therefore, we have decided to continue the path we have taken with enthusiasm, with the aim of getting to know each other better, and learning how to maintain a high level of motivation, as well as to optimize team understanding.

Gianpaolo and Hassane

We continued the work with an individual deepening of knowledge and personality analysis.
For this purpose, we used the LUXX Profile Test, which is a standardized online psychological assessment that provides information on a person’s needs through the screening of Primary Motivational Factors.

It allows you to understand a person’s behavior in a deeper way, helping achieve an effective awareness of oneself and others. It provides great support in the structuring of private and professional life, in the pursuit and achievement of objectives, as well as influencing the areas of relations.


Gianpaolo provided me a link to a personal test lasting about 20 minutes, featuring 144 statements that we were asked to score from 0 to 5 depending on whether those statements were near or far from our way of life, way of thinking and acting. Similarly, Elisa and Hassane also received the link and filled in this questionnaire.

Once the test was completed, on the basis of the answers given, a real personality profile was generated characterized by precise thresholds for each of the Motivational Factors. After a careful analysis of the profiles by Coach Gianpaolo, we scheduled specific appointments for individual sessions in which the results were observed.

Immagine che contiene tavolo

Descrizione generata automaticamente

DISCOVER YOURSELF AND UNDERSTAND YOUR BEHAVIOR IN SPORT AND LIFE.

In the period between my first Mental Coaching session and the interpretation session of the LUXX Profile test, about a week has passed. During those days a process of profound reflection was triggered within me. With the help of Coach Gianpaolo, I put pressure and stress aside, suddenly remembering how much fun I was having doing my work.

The profile interpretation session was a surprise. Coach Gianpaolo showed me the test results and I saw how my Motivational Factors present themselves and how I express them. Thanks to an accurate description, I understood the importance and meaning of the different colors attributed to the factors.

Coach Gianpaolo’s Scirocco TF T-shirt

Each Motivational Factor can assume three different colors: blue, grey or red, depending on the way it is expressed. For example, for the Motivational Factor Curiosity, the blue color identifies the subjects who express it in purely practical terms. While the red color groups people who prefer theoretical curiosity. Finally, the grey color represents those who live the Motivational Factor with neutrality and prefer to express both modalities.

Furthermore, each motive is measured by a statistically significant degree of intensity with respect to the world average of personalities observed through the LUXX test.

So, with my profile at the center of attention and without the aid of particular exercises, I was able to zoom in on my personality, this time from a practical-relational point of view.

Comparing my way of living and thinking with that of others is not an easy exercise, but you can grasp the limits of your beliefs and discover how in some circumstances, even the vision of others can be advantageous.

In general, I found the descriptions of the results consistent with what I already perceived of my personality. Furthermore, I was able to find out which situations and behaviors motivate me most, as well as to manage in the best possible way the situations that create frustration and discomfort.

The following were the most important conclusions:

  • Strong curiosity to discover and understand new things and offer new strategies and solutions,
  • Pleasure in influencing, directing and take responsibility
  • Preference to stand out from others and willingness to develop communication methods and approaches that represent superiority
  • Love and orientation towards the group and the community with emotions and energies included
  • Willingness to socialize, help and support others.

Although each motivational factor has its importance and is distinct from the others, it is very interesting to analyze how these combine with each other to generate alliances and conflicts.

Elisa di Lazzaro
Moments of preparation for the session

Among the most relevant combinations, also called constellations, I remember the combination of the following factors: Social Engagement and Social Participation both expressed in red and Autonomy expressed in blue, all statistically significant. It seems that the combination of the expression of these three factors characterizes a real competitive personal asset, very advantageous for my profession.

If I didn’t know you, looking at the combination of three motivational factors, I would tell you that you were born to be a coach.

Coach Gianpaolo Caprino

However, we have highlighted two conflicts: from an internal perspective, we reasoned on the fact that the combination of the factors “Influence” and “Status” both in red, sometimes makes it difficult for me to ask people for help, as in the eyes of others I often look perfect and flawless.

While an external conflict is characterized by the combination of the factors “Social Acceptance” in red and “Safety” in blue that do not always help me to understand people who worry and are often afraid.

Hi Gian, I just wanted to thank you for this experience that is really opening my eyes and maybe it was necessary so that I could also understand from inside what this method represents.

Coach Alessandro Vigo

Elisa and Hassane also participated in an individual interpretation session of the results of their profiles and then we continued with two group sessions working in groups of three (athlete, coach, mental coach) to closely observe my profile in comparison with that of my two athletes.

Autonomy: The real vision of the team. one for all or all for one?

One of the focal points of my profile result and interpretation session was based on the analysis of the “Autonomy” motive which is  shown in blue with a significant intensity.

Sometimes, unity is strength

It was explained to me that subjects with this intensity often seek community and reciprocity with others. “Only unity is strength” is one of my favorite phrases in this regard. Many people seek consensus with others on the merits, procedures and objectives. Often it is considered natural to confide in others even on a private level and attempt to create an emotional bond that is natural and appropriate to the type of relationship.

I had the opportunity to reflect on the team vision of a person who expresses this factor in the opposite way. That is, a person who seeks independence, freedom, self-sufficiency, emotional detachment. In the visual mental imagination of those who express “Autonomy” with a red color, the team is considered a well-organized entity if made up of individual components, each with a specific task assigned. While those who express the “Autonomy” factor with blue intensity, a team is considered as a single and unique entity.

From this difference, I understood the importance of respecting the way to approach this factor. In this way it is possible to recognize when it is time to leave space for the athlete, especially during high pressure situations such as a pre-race warm-up.

POWER: QUICK THINKER VS QUICK DECIDER. 
LEADERSHIP IS OK BUT WITHOUT ANY PRESSURE.

Another very important issue we have worked on, concerns the motive of “Power”, which determines how important it is for a person to make the decisions, influence, and intervene. Those who express this factor with the red color love to take responsibility and control of any given situation and exert influence. On the other hand, it can be frustrating for them to feel a sense of inefficiency or loss of control.

Alessandro Vigo
Managing the “Power” motive

While people who express the Motivational Factor “Power” with blue intensity prefer to avoid situations in which they have to make decisions, this often brings forth in them a negative feeling of dominance from others.

In the sports sphere and in the relationships between coaches and athletes, these situations are frequent both in training and in competition and are described with the concept of Quick Solutions, i.e. those circumstances in which one of the two adopts methods and solutions quickly, without leaving time for others to think about the decisions that should be made. It is therefore important to reflect and be aware of which of the two is the quick thinker and who is the quick decider.

Contrary to what is often thought in society, two strong and influential characters are capable of quickly resolving conflicts as they often see things in the same way. Being both Quick Deciders is a plus, especially when there is a need to make quick decisions, take risks, and claim responsibility.

PHYSICAL EXERCISE: HOW CAN YOU EXCEED YOUR LIMITS WITH THE LUXX PROFILE TEST.

Referring to the sports field, “Physical exercise” motive has a strong importance as it describes the meaning that people attribute to intense physical efforts in a general sense.

Motivational Factor “Physical exercise”

Subjects who manifest “Physical exercise” with a red intensity, tell of a recurring and continuous need to move, to be satisfied by producing intense physical effort.

But what happens when red “Physical exercise” combines with neutral or blue “Safety”?
“Safety” describes how much importance aversion to risk and anxiety, stability and protection play in a person’s life.

People with a blue “Safety” motive are generally oriented towards the opportunities behind each challenge, with the aim not only of reaching them but of overcoming them. On the other hand, those who have Red “Safety” generally prefer to pay close attention to the risks and dangers associated with each action and choice.

We therefore reasoned about how much an athlete is capable of pushing himself beyond his limits, without thinking about the fear of getting injured. According to studies and the current literature, athletes with this type of combination are characterized by some important qualities:

  • Concentration in unexpected and high pressure situations
  • Faster recovery from injuries and trauma
  • Optimal pain management
  • Search for extreme challenge and desire to overcome one’s limits

CURIOSITY: HOW VS WHY.
WHAT ATHLETES ARE MOSTLY INTERESTED IN?

“Curiosity” motive describes the importance of acquiring new knowledge in a person’s life. Those who manifest this Motivational Factor with a red color, love to reflect and analyze and prefer to answer a central question: Why? 

How vs Why

On the contrary, those who express it with blue color look for activities and contents in which they can act, do, and perform something. For these people to being able to create from a practical point of view is much more satisfying than dealing with it purely theoretically.

In fact, they are often more interested in the question How? and much less about the question Why? as they argue that a problem needs to be solved, and it is not enough to understand it.

Reflecting on these different perspectives has helped me refine the way I communicate with my athletes. Furthermore, through this new interpretation, I realized that athletes have the same desire, ambition and motivation, but, often coaches struggle to identify what they want to discover or learn to do.

I found that the ability to know what they are most interested in proved to be crucial in establishing effective communication, and consequently in building solid team communication.

CONCLUSION: WHY DO I RECOMMEND MENTAL COACHING BOTH TO ATHLETES AND COACHES?

In this  article, we have already described the features, advantages and benefits of Mental Coaching. Too many athletes devote attention only to the preparation of their body, ignoring how much mental training could impact sports performance, as well as the quality of personal life in general.

However, by reading this article, I also strongly invite my coach colleagues to reflect with greater interest on how important it is to learn to relate in the most correct and effective way with your athletes.

The job of a coach is complex. One of the most difficult things in this profession is learning how to understand and getting to know the personality of the athlete in front of you.

Behind every athlete, there is a unique personality, with specific peculiarities that characterize him, on and off the track. Therefore, to establish excellent relationships and avoid misunderstandings that can turn into unhelpful discussions, the priority of a new collaboration, as well as in longer-lasting relationships, is to be able to establish a solid understanding and successful communication between coaches and athletes.

To be able to develop this competence, I believe it is necessary to reconsider the human side of sport, as no technology will ever help us achieve this.

Mental Coaching has proved to be an indispensable tool for achieving this goal and I am confident that it will also help me in the immediate future.

As always,

The future is bright.

DISCOVER THE RANGE OF MENTAL COACHING SERVICES

Discover the range of Mental Coaching consultancy offered by Scirocco TF and use the discount code LUXX10 to get a 10% discount on all types of service.

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