08/08/2021   The ball is round, but if we roll it ...



A few years ago a Chinese great friend told us about the deep love that the "gamblers" in his country had for the roulette ball.

He said that by following his hopping on the wheel they tried to understand in advance whether the kiss of luck would reward them or not.

The small round ball rewarded some, but often left most of them with their mouths dry (and pockets empty).


The ball is round, you know. And it generally goes where she wants it and not where we want it to go instead.

Tennis players and volleyball players who sometimes lose (or win) a tournament for a few centimetres know something about it.

He knows a lot more who has to take a penalty in overtime in a never-ending soccer game and sees the angled ball land on a post rather than two inches farther into the net, or worse in the arms of a shrewd goalkeeper.

A little breath of wind is enough for the round ball to go where we never want it to go.


But when we place ourselves on a flat or slightly downhill surface, and instead of throwing it we roll it, we are more easily able to dominate its warlike instinct and we witness a wonderful movement that reminds us of what the technical gesture of the march should be.

If we look at the ball from behind we find that it is always attached to the ground, even if we push a rugby oval. In the latter case, if luck assists us, we can also see the simulation of the movement of the hips which of the technical movement of the march is the driving force. Everything starts from there.


Well, dear readers, in these two Japanese days we have tried to steal the thoughts and consequent actions of the athletes



The athlete


We have seen athletes cheering and others crying.

It is part of the rules of the game. Honor to the defeated opponent is a moral and ethical duty that every athlete must have. The winning athlete must respect the loser even if this costs a huge sacrifice.

One day when it's up to the other to win (because you can't always win as the norm in sport is an alternation between victories and defeats) we will be amply rewarded and we will also understand the meaning of the word "friendship".


We have seen athletes walking divinely, others in an acceptable way, still others blatantly breaking the technical rules.

We saw dozens of yellow coloured paddles with two strange symbols painted on them slammed into someone's face.

We saw this someone making a sign that he understood that this was a help that was given to him and others continue undeterred as if nothing had happened. And we wondered what good would they have done if the one who should have been the beneficiary of this help pretended not to have understood?


Finally, we understood the tears of those who at 20m from the finish saw a white paddle indicating the penalty area which meant the loss of a medal.



The judge


Being a judge is by no means easy.

Firstly because the speed of execution of the gesture below a certain threshold is not perceptible to the human eye, secondly even when the visual image that our retina perceives is not always what the athlete has really produced.

Even the judges of diving and gymnastics know something.

It is even more difficult to be able to dominate in our brains what should be the "par condicio competitorum": if I have reported the error to you, I must report the exact same error to him/her.

Those who manage to do so are a rigorous judge, those who sometimes fail do not always have to be accused of being incompetent, but, like the athlete, they just ran into a bad day.


For the avoidance of doubt, let's say right away that the Sapporo jury (like those of Rio, London and Beijing) expressed itself in a wonderful way, seeking to safeguard the best correct race walk.

And this is a success we must all be proud of: race walking has shown that it deserves to remain in the Olympic panorama in full right, and not only for tradition, but also for the show put on display.


But being a judge is exciting.

It gives you the chance to watch the young athlete grow up until eventually he gets to win the Olympic title.

It gives you the opportunity to advise him on his growth, in short, to be his advisor, his friend to listen to, the older brother from whom to learn. In this way a bond will be established that comes from afar and that will last over time even in our most intimate memories.



The coach


The writer's thought is that the coach must be the primary pillar of the development of a young athlete.


If we want to grow our athletes and take them to any important milestone then it is not enough for us to focus on the time trial. The "creed” of the coach must not be immutable, because the goal must always be the balance between the various phases and spheres of training.

Sapporo has strongly reminded us that a fundamental point is also that of technique, but not only that.


This means that it takes something much more to put in everyone's daily basket.

It takes knowing how to work in harmony with other people with various attitudes and skills from which perhaps to draw elements that at first seem indifferent, but which can later be defined as the "litmus papers" for solving problems.

Relationships of frank and serene continuity (or in any case of non-hostility or contempt) with environments other than the technical one are necessary, with groups of people who also show you the other side of the coin (an expert judging body, a continuous organizer over time and others similar).

Therefore, the friends and faithful companions of all time with whom we began to walk as young people are not enough.

They are not enough because they already know us thoroughly and, often in order not to displease us, they will always and in any case be a favorable audience. There is nothing worse for a coach to always be told that his choice (or his teaching) are the right ones.

Sometimes you need to have the courage to change your mind with open eyes to improve: this does not mean admitting that you have made a mistake, but the exact opposite. It means having the correct "vision" of what we need.

There is therefore a need for continuous discussion on technical issues and not only on training methods.


Instead, it is necessary to try to understand instead, if and when "the yellow paddles have risen or the red dots have appeared on the board", why it happened, and to understand equally well if we have also contributed to this factuality with some of our mistakes or inappropriate teaching. .

There is therefore a need to know (and maybe even hang out with) those who, if necessary, know how to point you out and get in touch with the right person who, at the right time in the presence of your need, can help you solve your daily problem.

There is a need for those who, knowing how certain things are (and how they normally evolve) to have already lived them previously, can show you the best way or initiative so that you can reach your goal.

In short, there is a need for someone who puts himself at your disposal, on whom you can count and with whom you can see the other side of the coin. There is always another face!


It is also necessary to make young athletes understand that it is important that strong values ​​are always at the center of their project, and that they do not stop at the first adverse reaction.


All this dear friends, is not identified with the stopwatch, but with the continuous confrontation, in which to give something to absorb something from the other.

A true confrontation in which both have the opportunity to grow and therefore subject to only one condition: that of being dictated by a lack of mutual interest.





We hope we all understand that we have to dominate the round ball.

Susana Feitor in a comment on a social network a few days ago showed the way in making a group. We agree 100%.

If we isolate ourselves, we will help the movement much less, which instead still needs to grow to survive and the medals collected in the past will end up in the drawers and will be just a good memory.

Only in this way would we have truly loved race walking !