Sport Mindset for Excellence

Autore : Joe Santangelo
Anno di produzione : 2023
Casa Editrice : ---
Genere letterario : Saggistica - Motivazionale
Formato : Cartaceo
Quarta di copertina
Altre Notizie : 2022 INDEX (Sport Mindset for Excellence)

Recensisci Opera

Volume’s Introduction       

When I started my sport career I was only 13 and I just didn’t know yet I was starting, neither that I would have fallen in love with a sports discipline, a passion which moves me and motivates the most of my actions and decisions still now, forty years later. I entered the gym alone and stared looking at the athletes. They were so beautiful to my eyes, I felt a kind of embarrassment and excitement at the same time. A strange struggle started inside: I wanted to do something, but I felt I was inadequate. I was that kind of boy which is destined to be bullied and that was what happened for me, that far. I was blond haired, blue eyes, very thin: I would probably seem a girl as much as a boy and my closed and introspective character, in addition to my natural inclination to non-conformity, made things much more difficult. What should I do? I wanted to do something to become stronger and respected by other people and thought I found my chance, but I was not really sure I would have deserved it, for I felt inadequate. The struggle was torturing me, but after a few weeks I realized that my mind could become stronger than my body and made my decision: I accepted the challenge and I bet on my achievement. Later on, in an unknown future, I would have become a champion: that was my commitment, my dream. After such a decision I was only in need of time, the bigger size of time my routine could offer me to train, to dedicate the whole of myself to my sport discipline, to my physical empowerment and, finally, to my strategic mindset. That’s what I realized at the age of thirteen: I guess I was lucky, but also a kind of precocious: I understood very quickly that my mind could have strived, moved and motivated my body and granted appropriate growth, and that’s what really happened.

Soon I got addicted to my discipline: the training sessions became holy: the gym was my church and I used to go there as I was a religionist who had to commit himself to his religion. I became familiar with the whole of the technical gestures and used to strive hard and consume all my energy to comprehend the movements, the techniques, to integrate them into my body and mix them in a set of ordinary and routine moves. I got addicted to my sport and there was nothing more important, for me, than completing my school homework, which allowed me to reach the gym and work hard for two sessions, at least: amateurs (boys) and professionals (adults). I took a old bike and made my 5 kilometres every day, with a big and heavy bag held on my shoulders. I clearly remember that I felt happy, even though my training commitments was really hard to drive, because no one believed in me yet, but I didn’t have any idea of quitting. I held a dream, a big dream into my heart and I always found the strength and energy to overcome the humiliations and the absence of any real attainment.

When I was 17 a few important things happened. I significantly increased the time for my training. I used to train 10 time per week, Saturday and Sunday included: I was given the key of the Gym by my coach and used to go there alone to improve some gestures and empower my body during the night and on the weekend. I used to do that secretly: I didn’t want any other persons to catch my real intentions. I had never declared officially my inner aim and ambitions, for I thought they were too big and I didn’t want any confrontation with anyone on this subject. I knew from the start there were four factors, which I had to handle: there was my mind, my body and there was another strange force within, which wanted to prevent me from taking in charge my dream. Finally there was me: the main actor of this movie, the person destined to find a compromise with that strange individual – my internal enemy – and to drive body and mind towards success. I knew it was very hard and I used to feel all the sense of responsibility of such a challenge and this dramatically changed my personality.

Some significant successes arrived and, at the age of 21, I entered the national team to represent my country in the European Championship to be held in England. I was so happy, astonished. I guessed the whole of my efforts were coming back in terms of chances. I could have had a real chance, that time, to prove myself I was right. My inner dream began to push: he wanted to get out and declare itself to the outside world, but I managed to keep it silent.

At that time I didn’t have any coach. I left my first sports school for my former coach didn’t want me to follow my natural propensity to experience adjacent styles: this would have meant attending other schools, following other recommendations, learning different styles and gestures. I was alone, but I was not scared. I was sure that I could have overcome such an event. I quit my former school and, as a consequence, I was suspended for one year from any national and international tournaments. I thought I was ready, I had been many times national champion, I deserved such a chance, but I could not take part in the European Championship. At the age of 21 I only had one certainty: an official suspension of 1 year, because I decided to switch from the old team to the new team. That was the punishment from my former coach. And this became my primary, strongest motivation to strive harder and harder. I had a deal with a new team: I would have become one of their athletes the upcoming year, meantime I could have entered their facilities any time, any day of the year. Suspension: I couldn’t perform officially, but I had one entire year to empower my physical capabilities, to enrich my tactical and strategic competences, to fill all the technical gaps. And that’s what I really did, that year.

Thing were changing inside, something really radical. I learned how to deal with my internal enemy: all of a sudden I took the power away from him and reduced him to silence. My dream broke through and began to yell: I want to become World Champion in my sport, I want to be the number one. I was so embarrassed. Nobody could hear such a scream but me. Whenever I repeated such a commitment into my head, I felt a physical vibration and my inner soul started to shake. It was right: I wanted to be a World Champion, but I also knew I had to become a World Champion before winning. So I switched to an upper level and the whole of the training and the preparation switched with me.

I was seeking improvement, I pushed my training session to my possible best, I become much more constant, perseverant, I simulated tournaments, performances, scores, I used to train myself with any athlete who wanted me as a partner or a companion: older, smarter, stronger than me, without being envious, embarrassed, without feeling humiliated, ever. I was seeking improvement, I just wanted to push forward my technicalities and my mindset.

One year passed by, and I come back to tournaments. I won all the national championships in different disciplines and officially re-entered the National Team. I didn’t have any coach. I used to teach as a coach in three different gym and I trained myself some kind of 4 hours per day, while I was still studying at the University. I knew I was in need of a coach, but it was very difficult to coach me, because I was already a certified coach, a national team athlete and I had my own ideas on training, methodologies, models of actions during a match. So what really could I do? I got an additional switch and became the personal coach of myself. I started studying anything I could on the subject, utilizing any kind of chances and tools to do that: interviews to sports champions whom I personally knew, books, articles from specialized magazines, VHS, emulation. Coaches, master-classes, additional certifications. I wanted to fill the gaps which I knew I had. I wanted to be complete, quiet and lucid and elegant while performing, strong, powerful, creative. I wanted to become a model to myself, as an athlete and as a man, and I spent all the money and all the energies to achieve this target.

At the age of 24 I had my chances. I become European silver medallist: I remember that I cried when I was in the Hotel, that night. I knew I was stronger than my opponent, but something happened to my mind, from the very moment I saw the microphone coming down from above, into the ring. I was not ready enough and that affected my resources and jeopardized the whole performance. I thought that I had to show up my entire arsenal, that I was a superstar, in a sense, and I was punished by my ego. The year after I was appointed as the Captain of the National Team. I was really honoured of such an appraisal and tried to do my best with my companions. I was bronze medallist and clearly realized that I was in lack of something which I could not even define, so how could I achieve more? I got in my mind that if you want to become the Champion you need to accomplish the appropriate mindset of the Champion. No way, no excuses: the tournament is won on execution, not on emotions. I made my decision and opened a new wave. From one side I started training according to the usual standard protocols, from the other hand I began studying me, my reactions, my delusion, my motivations, my will to survive, to succeed, to overcome issues, my will to improve myself, my attitude not to feel satisfied, neither when I failed nor when I succeeded. The whole of such a hard study was performed in comparison to the attitudes, the habits and the skills of the champions: I had to understand the gaps and I had to fill those gaps, at any cost. I resolved that Mindset was the real element I was still in lack of, to succeed. I continued my study, while performing officially in tournaments. I won several championships and many elements came, naturally, instinctively: discipline, perseverance, calmness, lucidity, internal-LOC, resilience, fairplay, humility, self confidence, performance flow, courage, propensity to risk, will to face problems and issues, technical bilateralism, will to train harder and harder, will to compare my performance to champions’, imagery, creativity, uniqueness, patience, learning from failures, goal setting. The Champion which was inside me was there to come out and reveal his real talent to the other competitors, to coaches and referees, to media. It was not a matter of being provided with a strong will: everyone has it, at a professional level. I realized I had to free the champion who was imprisoned in myself.

I was confirmed as Captain of the National Team. I won the European Championship. Then I became World Champion for the first time. Then I won again the tournament and was confirmed Elite World Champion. I took an additional day in the Hotel to celebrate myself. I was alone, in the hotel room. I had my Gold medal in one hand and the World Champion Belt on the table. I felt satisfied for the first time in my sport career. I questioned myself, while drinking a glass of red wine. How much long... How much hard, stressful, humiliating was my trip? I would have been so grateful to anyone, if he had told me and taught me kind of so important recommendations before. I would have been so grateful if someone had approached me long before to tell me “Good Joe, you’re on the right way, you’re doing good. Be patient, do not give up, do not quit, Everything will happen whenever you’re ready”. I was forced to learn my lesson by myself, on the base of failures, humiliations, hard work and huge sacrifices. That day, when I was in the hotel room, I had all the answers to my questions. My life gave me back something great: the dream of that wand scared boy had been accomplished.

That’s the reason why I have decided to talk about these recommendations me myself wanted to be given in the past. The 8 Pillars Model which I present in this book includes the whole of the elements which a Sport Champion must have to accomplish and maintain his position. It is based on academic model mixed to my personal experience as a Coach and as a Sport Professional. No magic, no mysteries, no genius or talent or superhuman skills are required to become a Peak-Performer: only hard work. You ought to work for a strong physical shape, for enrich and empower a tactical and strategic mentality and, finally, a robust Sport Mindset, which, in my personal opinion, means the most of it all.




Definizione – Ambiti di Applicazione – Programmazione


Sport Mental Coaching è una locuzione anglosassone che definisce una disciplina psicodinamica che si è oramai affermata anche in Europa, negli ultimi 20 anni. In particolare significa Allenatore Sportivo della Mente. In chiave sintetica lo SMC è un processo di relazione volto a ottimizzare e massimizzare la prestazione dell’Atleta, fornendogli la consapevolezza, la competenza e le capacità di gestione di specifici fattori che determinano la Performance d’Eccellenza (Peak-Performance).

I Mental Coach sono esperti nel campo della psicologia dello sport e della performance. In altre parole sono professionisti che comprendono come il processo decisionale, le credenze, le immagini, le emozioni e i sentimenti influenzino e siano influenzati dagli atti di prestazione, nonché dagli esiti della competizione stessa.

L’ambito di applicazione dello SMC, intuitivamente, è molto variegato: è uno strumento di empowerment di atleti professionisti/semi-professionisti che praticano discipline sportive individuali e collettive (team), situazionali e di routine/endurance, a corpo libero e non (strumenti/motori/armi sportive). Ogni disciplina sportiva che presenti un ambito competitivo (agonismo), in definitiva, può trarre enormi vantaggi dall’attività di Sport Mental Coaching, perché l’assetto mentale dell’Atleta è sempre lo stesso. In particolare il Coaching definisce questo aspetto in termini di Sport Mindset, ovvero Assetto Mentale dell’Atleta, quell’elemento completamente avulso dalle funzionalità del corpo (capacità coordinative e condizionali), dalle abilità motorie e dalle capacità tecniche, che pur influenza radicalmente la performance e l’esito di una competizione.

Lo Sport Mental Coach, dunque, agisce proprio sullo Sport Mindset, individua le aree di fragilità (rafforzandole) e le aree di forza (incrementandole), esplora e approfondisce le cause di vulnerabilità interna del Coachee (l’Atleta) e sviluppa una strategia per neutralizzarle, raccomanda al Coachee le modalità per ingaggiare una lotta severa con l’Avversario Interno e sconfiggerlo, evidenzia e stigmatizza le credenze limitanti e le sostituisce con convinzioni potenzianti, educa il Coachee ad alimentare la motivazione caratteristica, l’ambizione e la proattività e, intuitivamente, sblocca il suo talento intrinseco, finalizzandolo alla performance di picco (Peak-Performance).

Ogni atto di prestazione umana richiede che un individuo sia in grado di integrare, in modo efficiente (energia) ed efficace (risultato) una speciale combinazione di forma fisica, competenza tecnica, strategia tattica e abilità psicologiche.

Un comune malinteso è che gli allenatori mentali siano degli psicologi – un professionista che lavora per neutralizzare/risolvere un problema psicologico, che interferisce con il raggiungimento delle prestazioni. La verità è che pochissimi Sport Mental Coach presentano questa competenza. È piuttosto da intendersi come una guida, un facilitatore nel raggiungimento di obiettivi e risultati, così nello sport come nella vita di tutti i giorni.

Ciò detto, è altrettanto intuitivo che lo Sport Mental Coach è un professionista certificato che padroneggia molteplici aree formative attinenti alla tecnica sportiva, alla psicodinamica, alla psicomotricità, alla psicologia dello sport, alla fenomenologia delle motivazioni/pulsioni/emozioni. Deve essere, in definitiva, abilitato all’esercizio del Mental Coaching, in termini di erogazione di servizi di consulenza alla persona.

Lo Sport Mental Coaching finalizzato a prestazioni di picco presenta modelli e protocolli di operatività abbastanza standardizzati, in ossequio ai protocolli ICF (International Coaching Federation):


Sessione-ZERO: Modulo della durata di 90/120’ finalizzato ad acquisire informazioni cruciali in merito all’individualità e alla specificità del Coachee (motivazione intrinseca, obiettivo sportivo dichiarato, competenze note/ignote, incompetenze note/ignote, ambizione dichiarata, grado di collimanza tra motivazione/risorse e obiettivo dichiarato, disponibilità all’azione, grado di consapevolezza interna, classificazione dell’Auto-immagine del Coachee).


RTD: RECIPROCAL-TRUST-DEAL: Seconda sessione, finalizzata alla presentazione di un percorso sviluppato dal Coach e calibrato sulle specificità del Coachee, che includa esiti e riflessioni determinate dalla Sessione-ZERO, nonché peculiarità della disciplina sportiva praticata. Il RTD contiene un programma di massima (Masterplan) e la classificazione della tipologia attuale dell’Atleta (Current State: stato di Mindset corrente): a) The Rookie – b) The Spectator – c) The Participant – d) The Prima Donna – e) The Silent Killer  f) The Subconscious Commando – g) The Contender.


SPORT MENTAL COACHING SESSIONs: Sequenza di moduli di coaching, da operarsi one-2-one (in caso di Coaching Individuale) della durata di 60’ (o, max, 90’). L’azione di Mental Coaching viene effettuata in ossequio ai protocolli ICF ed è basata su confronto, relazione e contraddittorio guidato, ed è finalizzata a definire istruzioni e raccomandazioni (condivise) che il Coachee dovrà applicare tra una sessione e l’altra. Obiettivo ultimativo è quello di favorire un processo di trasformazione che porti il Coachee dallo stato classificato – Current State: a) --> g) – allo stato di Peak-Performer (potenziale Campione).






Per quanto non sia teoricamente necessario che lo Sport Mental Coach sia praticante o conoscitore della disciplina sportiva praticata dal Coachee, per tanto gli Sport da Combattimento presentano specificità tali da richiedere una consapevolezza delle criticità del Combat.

Esiste una fortissima correlazione tra l’attività di Sport Mental Coaching e la performance agonistica, (PRO e SEMI-PRO) in ambito COMBAT: tutte le diverse discipline afferenti agli Sport da Combattimento possono fruire potenzialmente di un vantaggio enorme offerto dallo SMC.

Il FIGHTER, infatti presenta uno Sport Mindset assolutamente conforme a quello descritto da Psicologia dello Sport, Psicodinamica dello Sport e Psicologia delle Motivazioni Sportive. Al Fighter di successo, infatti, è richiesto di conseguire determinati fattori mentali che si rivelano cruciali per esprimere e confermare una performance di eccellenza. Del tutto genericamente possiamo assumere che lo SMC può facilitare l’acquisizione delle seguenti competenze psichiche in capo al FIGHTER:

  • Focalizzazione di attenzione e concentrazione —
  • Incremento della motivazione e dell’autostima —
  • Formulazione e definizione degli obiettivi specifici —
  • Capacità di visualizzazione e ancoraggio —
  • Capacità di gestione e controllo delle emozioni —
  • Neutralizzazione della “Sindrome dell’Impostore” —
  • Trasformazione dei Punti di Forza in “Speciali” —
  • Conseguimento dell’assetto mentale del FIGHTER-PRO (sapere sempre cosa bisogna fare) —
  • Comunicazione intra-personale (Self-Talk o Dialogo Interno) —
  • Comunicazione inter-personale (Coach – Partner – Compagni – Avversari) —
  • Padroneggiare il “Trilemma degli Istinti”: Fight/Fly/Freeze
  • Confronto vincente con il proprio Avversario Interno ═





Lo Sport Mindset è un dispositivo psichico ed emotivo composto da 8 Pilastri che, a loro volta, sono scomponibili in ulteriori fattori: i cosiddetti Fattori dello Sport Mindset (55, riportati di sotto):



  • SODDISFAZIONE            



























Lo Sport Mental Coaching presenta due declinazioni primarie: quella individuale (“one-2-one” Mental Coaching) e quella collettiva (Seminars/FRONTAL-Sessons).

  • L’attività di Coaching Individuale è operata secondo le forme descritte di sopra (Sessione-ZERO ® RTD: Reciprocal Trust Deal ® Sport Mental Coaching Sessions). Evidentemente l’efficacia dell’attività dipende da molteplici fattori, ma le esperienze campionate da ICF (International Coaching Federation) raccomandano un set minimo di 8 sessioni, fino a preconcordare Excellence Set di 20-30 sessioni, da diluirsi in 3-4 mesi (cfr: frequenza raccomandata: 1 sessione/settimana).
  • L’attività di Coaching Collettivo, diversamente, è strutturata in modo decisamente diverso. La Sessione-ZERO è sostituita dallo studio della classe di Coachee (Atleti: 10/20/---/50/80 atleti); lo Sport Mental Coach deve proattivamente individuare una serie di parametri relativi alla classe di Atleti cui sarà erogata la sessione. Occorre identificare elementi di omogeneità e di eterogeneità, ovvero fattori di allineamento e contrasto tra i Coachee presenti alla sessione: fascia di età, competenza tecnica consolidata, lingua/alfabetizzazione, esperienza e anni di pratica, genere, provenienza. In secondo luogo occorrerà conoscere i rudimenti regolamentari della disciplina sportiva praticata dai Coachee, nel caso si presentassero come una classe omogenea per sport. Queste informazioni servono per programmare l’intervento, che verterà su una serie organica di fattori che, in linea di massima:

o    siano comprensibili all’intera classe;

o    siano utili per l’accrescimento del Mindset dell’intera classe;

o    siano immediatamente verificabili durante la sessione (simulazione a freddo);

o    includano la possibilità di proseguire l’attività di self/coaching anche al termine della sessione attiva (in palestra, nella società di appartenenza, in altri ambiti competitivi).


L’attività di Coaching Collettivo risulta particolarmente efficace quando realizzata:

  • sull’intera squadra sportiva (tutti i componenti del Team);
  • sulle rappresentative nazionali di una determinata disciplina sportiva (ex: Squadra Nazionale Italiana di Boxe/Kickboxing), durante il periodo di addestramento/allenamento di routine e in previsione di competizioni internazionali significative (Campionati Europei – Campionati Mondiali).