Performance development and optimization

We investigate the psychological (cognitive, emotional, motivational), biological (bodily and somatovisceral), social (communicative), biomechanical, and behavioral factors associated with the development, improvement, and optimization of motor performance in the context of physical activity and sport. We adopt the theoretical frame of the Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF) model that provides a comprehensive conceptualization of psycho-bio-social (PBS) states related to performance. The IZOF model defines PBS states as situational, multimodal, and dynamic manifestations of total human functioning. This conceptualization is consistent with current holistic views that integrate the structural components of human performance, such as emotional/cognitive/motor processes, and the neurophysiological basis of these structural components. The specificity of our approach resides in the integration of behavioral, biological, and psychological data with functional brain monitoring, respectively performed with biomechanical, biomedical, and psychophysical methods including HR-EEG recording. Data acquisition and synchronization are performed by means of Powerlab Acquisition System. By using the results of structural components of human performance we aim at mapping behavioral and emotional information onto the brain activity. This is an interesting approach that permits to correlate motor tasks planning/execution and the emotional influence with brain commands.



High level performance

The aim of this research line is to identify the individual psycho-bio-social, biomechanical, behavioral, and neurophysiological characteristics of skilled performers, their knowledge base (represented in the form of mental representations that aim at controlling the perceptual, cognitive, and motor systems when interacting with the environment), as well as the mental and behavioral strategies that they use to perform successfully. Findings can be used to help low-proficient performers to acquire, refine, apply, and practice mental and behavioral skills and strategies to gain personal control toward debilitative states and to improve psychophysical conditions facilitative to performance.


Ongoing projects:

  1. The investigation of psycho-bio-physical processes associated with performance in shooting, by means of an integrative perspective. Findings are expected to shed light on psychophysical mechanisms related to shooting performance and provide useful information to help athletes improve their potential. Several studies are conducted to examine the links among emotional, biological, physiological, biomechanical variables and performance process and result.



Publications:



Conferences:

  • Bortoli, L., Bertollo, M., & Robazza, C. (2009). Hockey players’ aggression tendency during the game as a function of the perceived outcome. In CD of abstracts of The 12th World Congress of Sport Psychology 2009, Meeting New Challenges and Bridging Cultural Gaps in Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17-21 June 2009 (poster abstracts, pp. 225-226). Marrakesh Morocco: The Congress.

  • Robazza, C., Bertollo, M., & Bortoli, L. (2009). Temporal patterning of competitive anger in contact sports: A preliminary investigation. In CD of abstracts of The 12th World Congress of Sport Psychology 2009, Meeting New Challenges and Bridging Cultural Gaps in Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17-21 June 2009 (poster abstracts, pp. 222-223). Marrakesh Morocco: The Congress.




Performance improvement

From a practical perspective, we want to study the effects of different structured, systematic, and individualized intervention programs intended to enhance athletes’ self-regulation strategies prior to, during, and after competition. The individual’s experiences and meta-experiences (i.e., knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and preferences for specific performance-related states) developed over the course of successful and less successful performances are examined and then used to plan and apply emotion-focused and action-focused self-regulation. Self-regulation procedures take account of optimal and dysfunctional contents and intensities of individual states, as well as their dynamics, patterns, and fluctuations prior to, during, and post-performance during practice and competition. Interventions are aimed at identifying the individually optimal movement pattern, enhancing the individual’s self-awareness of optimal conditions to perform, identifying functional and dysfunctional coping strategies, controlling and monitoring performance processes and outcomes.



Motor learning and performance recovery

This research line aims at examining i) the effects of motor learning strategies on the acquisition, retention, and transfer of motor and perceptual skills, and decision-making; ii) the effects of motor re-education and rehabilitation procedures in assisting people (in particular athletes) to recover their skill proficiency after loss of skills, which may occur as a consequence of different causes. These causes include unexpected technical difficulties, instability of technique, failure to consistently attain expected results, sudden breakdowns of skills, habitual performance errors under stress, injury or other traumatic events, as well as a decreased motivation or other motor, cognitive, or perceptual skill deficits.


Ongoing projects:

  1. This project aims at studying the factors that motivate children and adolescents toward the adoption of an active lifestyle, within the theoretical standpoints of leading approaches in movement sciences and sport, such as achievement goal theory, self-efficacy theory, and self-determination theory. The project is conducted in collaboration with Padova, Bologna, and Foggia Universities.

  2. This project aims at studying the Procedural Knowledge and Declarative Knowledge contribution across the stages of learning and developmental phases, and the influence of different strategies on the acquisition, retention, and transfer of complex motor skills.



Publications:



Conferences:

  • Berchicci, M., Di Blasio, A., Bortoli, L., Robazza, C., Ripari, P., & Bertollo, M. (2009). The role of regular physical exercise on recognition memory test. In CD of abstracts of The 12th World Congress of Sport Psychology 2009, Meeting New Challenges and Bridging Cultural Gaps in Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17-21 June 2009 (poster abstracts, pp. 160). Marrakesh Morocco: The Congress.

  • Berchicci, M., Di Blasio, A., Ripari, P., & Bertollo M. (2007). Diastolic hypertension and declarative knowledge performance. Is there a relation in young people? 12th Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science – Jyvaskyla 11-14 July 2007, Pag. 496-497.

  • Berchicci, M., Di Blasio, A., Ripari, P., & Bertollo, M. (2007). The role of observational learning in the performance of complex motor skill. 12th Annual Congress of the European College of Sports Science – Jyvaskyla 11-14 July 2007, Pag. 497-498.

  • Berchicci, M., & Bertollo, M. (2006). The influence of the experience of practice on working memory, procedural knoledge and declarative knowledge, 3th European working memory symposium, Genova, 7-9 June 2006.

  • Berchicci, M., Robazza, C., & Bertollo, M. (2006). Can procedural and declarative memory be influenced by blocked practice organization in adolescents? Abstract 11th annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, July 05-08. Book of Abstracts (pp. 182-183). Lausanne, Switzerland.

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