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Seven Olympic referees participate in second seminar at FIVB Fortaleza Open

FIVB Second Vice-President Andre Meyer, left, addresses the seven 2016 Olympic referees at last week's FIVB Fortaleza Open in Brazil, Sport's Psychologist Dr. Matti Pifaretti and FIVB Beach Volleyball Referee Commisioner Jose Casanova at a clinic
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 1, 2016 - With the first whistle for the beach volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games three months away, seven of the 16 Olympic beach volleyball referees participated in the second half of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Referee Preparation Seminar at last week’s FIVB Fortaleza Open in Brazil. 

The first of its kind program is being organized by the the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the international sanctioning body for both the Olympic disciplines of Volleyball and Beach Volleyball.
With three key FIVB officials making brief presentations, the featured speaker again was Dr. Mattia Piffaretti, noted sports psychologist from Switzerland. The first part of the seminar was held in March with all 16 referees selected by the FIVB to work the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Aug. 6-18), attending the first half of the major clinic at the Center for Development of Volleyball Brazil in Saquarema. All 16 referees were also in the area to work the FIVB Rio Grand Slam held in the week following the clinic.

The seven 2016 FIVB Olympic referees attending the clinic and working the FIVB Fortaleza Open were Daniel Apol (United States), Mário Ferro (Brazil), Lucie Guillemette (Canada), Elzir Martins de Oliveira (Brazil), Carlos L. Rivera Rodriguez (Puerto Rico), Juan Carlos Saavedra (Columbia), Osvaldo Sumavil (Argentina).
The other 2016 FIVB Olympic referees who will be part of the second half of the seminar at the Swatch FIVB Hamburg Major Series event in Germany (June 7-12) are Giovanni Bake (South Africa), Djamal Bergheul (Algeria), Davide Crescentini (Italy), José Maria Padron (Spain), Charalampos Papadogoulas (Greece), Kritsada Panaseri (Thailand), Jonas Personeni (Switzerland), Roman Pristovakin (Russia) and Lijun Wang (China).

Apol (London 2012), Padron (London 2012), Personeni (Beijing 2008 and London 2012) and Sumavil (London 2012) have previous Olympic experience.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Referee Preparation Seminar is part of the vision by FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° to continue to develop and improve all aspects of the sport of volleyball and beach volleyball. Last year at this time, President Graça launched an e-learning platform aimed at an online hub to increase collaboration between referees around the world and create new links between different members of the volleyball and beach volleyball family.
The seven FIVB Olympic beach volleyball referees were welcomed by André Meyer, the FIVB’s second Executive Vice-President and chairman of the refereeing commission, José Casanova, the FIVB Referee Commissioner and FIVB medical commission member Dr. Bruno Fonseca.

Meyer stressed the importance of these clinics for the improvement of refereeing. "Our goal is to always to improve all elements of volleyball and beach volleyball," said Meyer. “We are convincing our referees of the importance of the new technology being introduced into our sport. Our primary goal is to help improve the quality of our refereeing in our many federations and we are obliged to help prepare our referees even more than ever before.”

Meyer also added, “So far from our point of view these clinics have been very successful. We are now seeing what progress these referees have made since Rio. We also have a variety of technology systems designed to enhance the quality of the matches and tournaments and this development impacts referees significantly. The new technology is designed to help them. We are doing similar sessions for volleyball as well as we move forward with our goal of providing the best overall referees we can for the evolving sport.”

“These things we have to do because we have analyzed the situation and we need to implement these things to help our referees become even more professional in the ever-changing world of sports. We are obliged to prepare our referees as well for all the changes happening in volleyball and beach volleyball.”

“With these clinics we are develop a program for the future in our training of referees for both of our disciplines. It is progressing. The biggest problem we have is to integrate these new technology platforms and mental preparations for all referees, scorers and linesman.”

Dr. Fonseca also conducted complete medical exams of the group of seven FIVB referees.

Casanova conducted multiple clinics providing the theoretical look at and training for the new FIVB Video Challenge System scheduled to be used at the  Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as training clinics on the use of the Vokkero Wireless communication system and multiple sessions on electronic scoresheet training.

The clinic includes application of the FIVB’s nine goals that were introduced last October in the United States at the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Florida by President Graça to introduce the international federation’s vision of becoming the No. 1 family entertainment sport in the world.
The nine goals are part of a long term strategic plan developed by President Graça and approved by the FIVB Board of Administration to help direct the future work of the federation and ensure it realizes the sport’s huge global potential. The nine goals were developed through a collaborative, internal process which looked at the main areas of development and progress.
A former basketball player in Switzerland's top division, Dr. Piffaretti deepened his knowledge in sport psychology in the United States at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he received his doctorate with a thesis about young athletes and successful or abandoned sporting careers. Since 1997, he has been head of AC&T Sport Consulting: a private practice based in Lausanne, Switzerland, whose goals are to understand and develop individuals' potential through mental training/coaching, lectures/conferences, articles and scientific studies, as well as public exhibitions.
Introduced by Casanova, Dr. Piffaretti spoke again about a meeting the FIVB’s Beach Volleyball Referee Commissioner at a conference in the Madeira Islands in 2011. “We had a good talk at the conference and I gave José my card,” said Dr. Piffaretti.
“I told him to give me a call if I could ever be of assistance to him,” Dr. Piffaretti noted.  “Last year, I got a call from him about helping further develop the referee’s skills, provide a framework to manage change, and to support them in their preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”
After speaking with the seminar’s attendees, Dr. Piffaretti said his “main goal is to provide the referees room for them to develop their skills in terms of emotional regulation, how they deal with stress and how they deal with emotions during a match. The second goal is to give them a framework to develop their awareness and communication skills. In Fortaleza and Hamburg, we are tackling focus and the concentration topic, which is a key for their performance.”
Dr. Piffaretti said he has seen local competition where he lives, but the FIVB Rio Grand Slam was his first FIVB World Tour event. “It was very educational for me to witness the referees in action where the demands are so great and the performance is needed to be at the highest level. In Fortaleza we have provided them with an additional opportunity for group interaction, allowing them to express themselves and having a good environment for the exchange of results as well as continue to persuade them that what we do here will help them in their performance.”

In Fortaleza, Dr. Piffaretti held four one-hour sessions with the FIVB Olympic referees, discussing Psychological Matters and Mental Preparation.

A primary theme in the sessions was providing concepts to enhance a referee’s mental preparedness.  Dr. Piffaretti broke the topic down into three specific areas of emotional, awareness and concentration/focus.

Part of Dr. Piffaretti’s sessions in Fortaleza included an extensive imagery workshop presenting practical exercises to assist the referees in receiving the maximum benefit from these exercises.

“I think the first thing is in response to a concept. We want to enhance the referee’s ability to be prepared to face such an event as the Olympic Games, as far as their mental aspect is concerned. Basically we are working on three dimensions of the mental preparation. First is emotional readiness, being able to deal with stress, awareness of the body language about themselves and their environment, the third aspect is concentration and focus.”

“In Rio we dealt with the first two aspects and in Fortaleza we dealt with the third—concentration and focus and how do they prepare themselves for optimum focus during the match. How it works and how you maintain concentration during a match and for the entire day and all of the matches they will work in a day.  You have to be able to switch on and switch off and recover between matches.”

“As far as I could see I was dealing with a group of people who were really intrigued and interested. They are appreciating someone dealing with these aspects, the human side of refereeing which can be easily overlooked because of so much emphasis on the mechanics and rules of the game. We are providing tools for the referees to deal with the very important mental aspects of their jobs which we believe will help them become even better referees.”

“It was very well received and I have had nothing but positive feedback from the group. All the referees are working very hard to acquire skills in these areas to help compliment all of the tremendous skills they already possess. Now we want them to work on mental preparation and systematically integrating skills to prepare yourself. We are trying to help them learn skills to motivate and inspire them to continue to develop in this important area.”

We are continuing to provide them with self-help material that we can maintain contact with them by email, skype, and calls so we can monitor them and really help them be ready for their massive jobs at the Olympic Games.”

”The basic concept is the same for the other group of referees, but in Hamburg we will work with a different set of mental skills and will adjust our presentation as needed and modify according to the dynamics of the group and what will work most effectively with them.”

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