Samuele Cottafava: "With Nicolai we always work together".  The secrets of their preparation

Confident protagonist at the World Cup starting today in Rome, the youngest member of the team tells the secrets of the new couple of Italian beach volleyball: “Paolo Nicolai gives serenity in the decisive moments”

Pietro Razzini


The Italian flag has returned to wave proudly in the world of beach volleyball. The new couple formed by Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava won last weekend in Latvia, the Elite 16 tournament, the one with the highest prize money (and therefore attractive for the best couples in the world) in the Beach Pro Tour. In the final she overtook the Qatari Cherif-Ahmed, bronze medal latest Olympics. Samuele Cottafava, ready more than ever for the World Cup housewares that will begin today in Rome, told the secrets of success and the main difficulties faced along the way: “Already in the qualifying match we fought until the third set, then won the advantages. It was a tournament lived on the edge of tension: after the defeat against the Dutch, we knew we could not make mistakes anymore. In addition to the success, the greatest satisfaction was seeing that the work done during the winter is bearing fruit ”.

In the final then you did something prodigious.

“In the second set we were good at holding on to the match despite being 20-17 behind. Having canceled eight match points and being able to get back into the game gave us that extra boost to win at the tie break ”.

Where does a recovery of this type come from?

“From the idea that you should never give up. A positive sequence of points is enough and the situation can be reversed. Build confidence. The safety of one’s own means returns and the pressure for the adversaries increases ”.

How do you recover from the physical and mental strain of a match?

“Starting from qualifying is demanding for the body because it forces you to play two more games. I need to switch off, dedicating myself to something else: playing the piano, one of my passions, listening to music, reading a book or watching a film. Only afterwards do I dedicate myself to the race plan with the team “.

Does physical preparation take place in pairs?

“Except for particular injuries or ailments, Paolo and I always work together. It happens that there are exercises aimed at the characteristics of the athlete but sharing serves to increase the understanding “.

From a practical point of view?

“Our week is marked by training on the sand and sessions in the gym. Six days a week we are on the beach volleyball court. To this we add three afternoons (or mornings) in the weight room and physiotherapy activity “.

Your journey together has just begun.

“It started in November: new couple, new staff, new race tactics. We both came from experiences with different partners: we had to understand each other. Get to know us. It was important to spend a lot of time studying the game situations, studying the technical qualities of the partner, making them compatible with his own “.

At this stage what is the added value of the staff.

“We started from scratch with them too. The first coach is Simone Di Tommaso, flanked by Mariano Costa who also plays the role of physical trainer. Then there is Mattia Matricardi, the team manager, and a team of physiotherapists. We immediately understood the importance of all rowing on the same side ”.

How do you and Paolo Nicolai help each other?

“Paolo certainly offers experience and serenity on the pitch: I rely on him from this point of view. I try to put everything I have on a physical level but it is difficult to speak in a self-referential way. The important thing is to start getting high-level results already this season. He helps you to work with greater peace of mind ”.

What are the main difficulties you are facing?

“We are now used to travel: travel has its own weight but should never be taken as an excuse. Surely in this period the workload is very high. We have already played six tournaments: 13 games in 11 days. And now the world championship arrives in Rome. This victory gave us the awareness of being able to compete at the highest levels “.

How do you manage your food?

“We are followed by a nutritionist who prepares a personalized diet and indicates the supplements we need both in winter and in summer. It helps us in the choice of food to better recover from physical exertion. It determines how much to eat and what to eat. The fundamental aspect, for me, is linked to meal times in relation to competitions: I try to feed myself no more than three hours before a match “.

“We also have a sports psychologist at our disposal. Until now we have never had to ask for his support but, in case of discrepancies within the team or different views on important topics, we know we have valuable help “.

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