A very recent post share urging me to sign a petition on with regard to providing sports Insurance for injured athletes- opened my eyes. This post share was a generous gesture by sports enthusiasts, intending to request the union minister of sports, for sports insurance cover to the injured athletes.

This was in the aftermath of an accident injury attained by a promising gymnast, Ajeeshma of Thalasseri Kerala, while she was practicing hands front on the vaulting table. Even though the operation was a success- the family would require financial assistance for her future treatment and rehabilitation.

The world of sports has seen many promising careers of athletes come to an end due to crippling injuries. Injuries are so much evident in physical sports these days that the risk of injury and its negative implications is always at the back of an athletes mind. Athletes are under constant fear of injuries, recovery, layoff and loss in earnings.

Injuries can occur as a result of collisions, falls, and accidents during practice and competition blows and tackles from other player’s etcetera. Injuries can happen due to over training, physical fatigue, muscle imbalances and muscle tension. Injuries can also be caused by psychological factors such as competitive stress, anxiety and lack of concentration. When an athlete doesn’t receive social support and his coping skills are low- then he is at a greater risk of an injury.

Insurance cover against injuries and accidents occurred during sports, is very common. International athletes like the soccer super stars who earn a whopping sum of money for themselves, their clubs and sponsors are known to insure their body parts against injuries, for an astronomical price. Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Mecci fall under this bracket.

Injuries can be a reason for emotional stress and psychological trauma when an athlete who is injured and out of action like:-

  1. Identity loss.
  2. Fear and anxiety whether he can get back to action.
  3. Loses confidence and feels insecure.
  4. Fear of injury reoccurrence.
  5. Feelings of anger, guilt, confusion, sadness and denial.

An athlete recovering from an injury needs lot of psychological support. The role of sports psychologists, doctors, physiotherapists, trainers, coaches, and parents plays a major role in the rehabilitation and recuperation. Psychological coping skills like goal setting, positive self-talk, imagery and relaxation help in rehabilitation.

How can caregivers help foster speeding up of the rehabilitation process-?

  1. Give the injured hope and psychological support.
  2. Instil a sense of confidence in the recovery process and efforts.
  3. Give active listening to the feelings and concern of the injured.
  4. Teach the injured ways of coping skills and acceptance.
  5. Educate the injured about the nature of injury with assistance from the medical staff.
  6. There is a need for the care givers to be patient, mentally strong and confident about the chances of recovery and the process.

The videos below are instructional videos on how to deal with an injury.

Listen to Dr Jarrod Spencer, sports psychologist speak on the emotional aspect of returning form an injury:-




We are living in a world where it is in human nature to be competitive. This competitiveness is to get the better of others for pride or reward. Competitiveness is in every facet of man’s life, but in sports, it is at its zenith.

Sports exemplify human spirit and endeavor, where in the strife to become victorious is glorified beyond expression. Players stretch their limits to attain supremacy against their rivals and competition becomes an outlet for their emotions.

The stirred up feelings and emotions among both players and spectators is what makes sports a passionate affair. Not every athlete is equally passionate and the passion that is found in some is so intense and undying that it has made them elite and eternal.

We hear people say they are interested in writing, music, dance, acting, sports, poetry and many other forms of expression. We also hear people saying they are passionate about the above activities, if so what is it differentiates Interest from passion?

This is like asking- Is Talent enough to achieve excellence? Here the inborn talent is not enough – it needs to be supported by effort [hard work] skills, competence and mastery. In the same way Interest towards a certain art has its limitations and it takes a person only to a certain distance but not all the way through: passion is way beyond as it takes you to excellence and greatness.

E M Forster has endorsed this view by saying- One person with passion is better than 40 people who are merely interested. 

Passion is a different ball game: a passionate person is filled with overwhelming emotions which are so strong that they are barely controllable. A passionate person becomes one with the act. You can say he eats drinks and sleeps on the activity with passion. He puts his heart and soul in to the act. He is deeply involved and committed in the act. This is how passion gets converted in to energy.

Oprah Winfrey, who overcame adversity to be known as one of the greatest women achievers in recent times has said- Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from what excites you. 

The current US president Donald Trump has said- Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.

Anecdotes of famous people have shown how they listened to their inner voice, changed tracks, and pursued their passion. They went after what filled them with meaning, excitement, fulfilment and happiness. Passion is what made Wanda Skyes say- If you feel that there is something out there that you are supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, stop wishing and do it.

Nothing great in this world has been accomplished without passionGeorge Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.  As if to support this eternal statement, Sports has thrown up examples of great sportspersons who made it big with their passion and love for their sport.

Today, we can see some of the superstars of sports, who are known for their passion- in action, with many more to come in the future- Tiger Woods [has made a comeback], Roger Federer- the invincible, Ronaldo and Mecci [both soccer], Sachin Tendulkar [now retired] and to add to the list- the sensational Virat Kohli, batsman and captain of the Indian Cricket team.

The videos below talks about the passion of the greats:- Federer        kohli         Sachin           Ronaldo           Mecci

Passion for these super stars is doing the same thing over and over again for the love of the game, without feeling bored.



When Rahul Dravid put his hands on the U-19 World Cup trophy along with skipper Prithvi Shaw on February 3/ 2018, he must have been a contended man, as he had never won the World cup as a player or as a captain: though he had performed in both capacities with great distinction. He sounded inconsequential about him not winning the Cup during his playing days during the press conference- `Not lifting the WC is not a pain and it does not disappoint me anymore. I do not dwell on the past too much.’

So much hype has been seen around him not winning the World title in his career and his deservability for the title that it created a social media buzz: there were many trends created in TWITTER  #World cup deserves Rahul Dravid # gentleman of the century etc. This is the kind of hype that must forced the universe to answer- Good guys may finish last but not-NEVER.

Rahul’s role in shaping the U-19 squad since the time he took over 14 months ago and later helping them to win the WC, has been hailed by one and all. Though, he seemed modest when asked about this- ` Coaching this team I tend to get a lot of attention, but it is really about the quality of support staff that we have  and the effort they have put in has been amazing. But the role of the chief coach is immense that which cannot be undermined.

I believe Rahul is shaping in to a Role Model and an Impact coach to the future teams: for the person that he is, his virtues and the values that he brings to the table.

Qualities that Rahul Dravid carries that would make him a role model to youngsters:- His- patience, discipline, good habits, humility, ability to adapt, being a selfless man and a team player, being gentle, work ethics, ability to improve and re-invent himself, hardiness, dedication, commitment [ wants to give 100%] listening and communication skills, assertiveness without being aggressive or submissive, mental toughness and his impeccable track record.

It is likely you may find Rahul the coach fit in to the roles and responsibilities of a successful coach: – He conducts these duties with sincerity and precision

  1. Understand individuals and their dualities and how to get the best out of them.
  2. Motivates to get the best the best out of the team.
  3. Builds healthy relationships with the whole team.
  4. Builds team cohesion and team culture and acts as team glue.
  5. Plans, implements, organise, conduct and execute what is planned.
  6. Promotes –discipline, rules and ethics of the game.
  7. Promotes sense of belonging and leadership within the team.
  8. Gives motivational and correctional feedback.
  9. Emphasizes on hard work, effort, mastery of skills and being in the process.
  10. Helps them to learn good characteristics, good habits and traits in life

But coaching an Indian side that comprises Individuals from different backgrounds and cultures is no easy task going by the experiences of Greg Chappell and Anil Kumble of late.

From what Rahul Dravid has shared with the press after the U-19 WC victory, on how he and the support staff dealt with this young bunch of guys differently

  • The team was given what it needed instead of imposing too much.
  • Gave the members freedom of choice and their responsibilities.
  • Were realistic in what to expect from individuals.
  • Understood what made the young players to tick.
  • Fixed team discipline but were flexible in certain areas knowing they were teenagers.

The discipline imposed by Rahul Dravid when it came to celebrations post the WC victory and the way this young team celebrated has won many hearts. Rahul is understood to have told them- “ to celebrate quietly after the victory and not to demean the opposition in any manner. Celebrate without hurling insults and hurting anyone’s sentiments.’’  

Judging by the way Rahul handled the team; he must have learnt his lessons from successful coaches like John Wright and Peter Kirsten under whom he played.

This one quote from John wright has stood in the minds of many. He said- ` It is the players who are important than the coach because it is finally the players who win you the games.’

Rahul attributed the success of U-19 WC victory to the players and sub-staff and did not take full credit to himself. He said- ` The players have worked hard and deserve this and it’s their victory. I am really proud of the boys and the effort they have put in.’    

Jim Thomson author of – DOUBLE GOAL COACH say’s – `a coach is someone who draws extraordinary performances form ordinary people.’

I will not say Prithvi Shaw, Manjot Kalra, Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Anukul Roy, Shivam and the rest are ordinary, but  when they go on to become extra- ordinary they will have a lot to thank their coach Rahul Dravid for.

Read more on `Psychology of coaching’- from my bestselling book- Success mantra in sports





Not one successful athlete can boldly stand up and declare that s/he did all by himself/herself and didn’t need the help of the parents. Though there may be exceptions, in most cases there is a role of the parents in the making of a successful athlete. No one would have made it big without their parental support.

For all the good they do to their children there may be many omissions or commissions on their part that could thwart a promising talent from making it big in their chosen sport- like nipping a bud before it turns in to a beautiful flower.

I know being once sports parent, the effort and sacrifice the parents put in to see their ward is successful, but they could be doing a lot of harm with their wrong parenting behaviours.

Dear parents, let me take you back to the days when you first put your kid in to some physical activity and reminding you of the reasons behind it.

  1. To keep the child healthy and strong through physical activity.
  2. To let the child socialize and get along with other children.
  3. To provide physiological and psychological benefits.
  4. To provide for fun and enjoyment.
  5. To prevent them becoming couch babies and taking to eating junk.
  6. To bring them out of crankiness- being confined to the four walls.
  7. To help the child learn life skills. [Acts as a life skill coach].
  8. To produce winners in real life.


In the later years, as the child shows early talent and begins to take part in competition, the very purpose of taking to sport is defeated, because-

  1. The parent’s attention is now shifted to the outcome of the competition wanting their child to win every time.
  2. The parents over-involve in the child’s activities.
  3. Their relationship with the child becomes too serious and the fun element goes missing with the onus on winning and development.
  4. The parents lose sight of the purpose for which the activity was pursued.
  5. They push the children for favourable results.
  6. In many cases their encouragement appears pressurising for their kids.
  7. On many occasions they don’t behave like role model parents.
  8. They shout at their kids instead of cheering.
  9. They don’t love their kids unconditionally.
  10. They punish the children physically and abuse them for not winning.

Now, the parents may argue– They are our kid’s after all, they are still young and inexperienced so what’s wrong in controlling them? What we are doing is in their best interest and for their own good.

Fair enough, at best you can support them, encourage them and be their best friend but controlling their life beyond a certain point is unfair, because it’s their life and you don’t own them and you should not treat them as your possessions. This is what Kahlil Gibran had to say in his book the prophetYour children are not your children; they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you and though they are with you, yet they do not belong to you.  


Then, what are the ideal behaviours for parents?

  1. Being role model parents.
  2. Loving the children unconditionally.
  3. Giving them positive strokes whenever they perform well, even for a losing cause. Laying more emphasis on effort than results.
  4. Keeping the fun and enjoyment alive for the kids.
  5. Not taking the activity too seriously. To sit back and enjoy watching them. You may not to see them play again- once they call it quits.
  6. Accepting whatever result comes and not pushing them too hard.
  7. Not treating them as security bonds that could produce interest in return for the investments.
  8. Making efforts to raise their self-esteem and self-image.
  9. Valuing them for what they are rather than what you want them to be.
  10. If needed, criticizing them constructively in private.
  11. Make sure the activity teaches them valuable life lessons that would stand by them for a long time in their careers.
  12. And, remember, you can’t make it happen for your kids- Allow it to happen and don’t play GOD.

Read more on sports parenting in the chapter ` the role of parents in the making of an athlete: From my best-selling book- Success mantra in sports.




        Reading's Gunter reacts after their English Premier League soccer match against Queens Park Rangers, in Reading

Many in this world are plagued by their fears, like fear of objects, events or places- commonly known as phobias: while some are phobic to flying, others are afraid of a dentist chair. This is not all; there could be other phobias like the fear of heights, people, escalators, public speaking and darkness, insect’s etcetera.

Human beings are not known to stay away from certain activities because these trigger a fear response: s/he has seeks therapeutic help to deal with these sources of fear. What necessitates them to face fear head-on is the dire necessity of the activity in itself.

There will be a time in their life when they will be compelled to take the dentist’s chair or fly to faraway places despite their fears and the therapy that has inoculated them against their fears is-Systematic De-sensitization. Systematic De-sensitization [SD] was developed by a native South African psychiatrist Mr Joseph Wolpe in the 1950’s.

In sports: athletes are dogged by several anxieties and FEAR is the primary source of these anxieties. SD has found its usefulness in treating these anxieties among athletes.

SD falls under the Counter–conditioning model which in turn is one of the four known models of treating sport anxieties the other three are namely- The extinction model[ flooding], the cognitive –mediational model and the coping skills model [ stress Inoculation training- SIT].

It is not uncommon to see athletes to feel anxiety before an event they are going to face in the coming days. Every time they think of that event they may feel anxious and uncomfortable because the event is going to be very important in the wake of what success in that competition is going to give them. It can be anything from fame, money, scholarship, contracts, sponsorships, fulfilment of a long standing dream/goal, pleasing the parents and coaches, winning a place in the national side plus the host of other benefits.

The anxiety may also be due to unknown conditions and opponents they are going to face, lack of higher skills, doubts about fulfilling the expectations, lack of preparation and the lowered confidence arising out of it, fear that they may squander a wonderful opportunity etcetera. The purpose of de-sensitization is to teach the candidate not to feel anxious thinking about the forthcoming event. The means to it is to foresee the event in a relaxed manner such that the person doesn’t become anxious and worried thinking about it.

It works under the premise that relaxation is incompatible with anxiety and worry: they are somewhat like Oil and Water which don’t mix. When we talk of anxiety we are dealing with anxiety in general without going in to whether it is trait anxiety or state anxiety specifically.

How is systematic De-sensitization administered? The steps

Step 1– The client is asked to construct an anxiety hierarchy, which is a list of those situations leading up to the upcoming that would create anxiety- starting with the stimulus situation that creates least anxiety leading up to the most disturbing anxiety causing situation. There can be many items between the least and the highest.

Step 2– The client is taught deep muscle relaxation and deep breathing techniques.

Step 3De-sensitization sessions: The client will first relax using the technique taught to him/her and vividly imagines the situation which is the least anxiety provoking from the list of anxiety hierarchy. The client repeatedly imagines the same situation until it will cease to provoke anxiety if presented again in the future.

The client will move up the hierarchy ladder from the least to the highest only if s/he is successful in de-stressing herself completely of the previous item.

Example of an anxiety hierarchy:

The athlete is participating in a career defining competition that is coming up in three days.

  1. With three days to go, the athlete imagines the competition.
  2. The athlete imagines the event when he talks to his coach/team mates.
  3. Two days to go. [Different times during the day].
  4. One day to go. [Different times during the day].
  5. Previous day- morning, different intervals and again in the night before sleeping.
  6. Day of the event- morning on getting up from bed- Travelling to the venue- entering the venue- one hour before the event- 30 minutes before- just before entering the arena.

The anxiety hierarchy varies from person to person/ sport to sport/ event to event. The client and therapist will decide on the final list of hierarchy.

The client can undergo therapy in three ways

  1. Self- administered.
  2. With the assistance of a therapist.
  3. Role playing- with the help of a friend.

As the athlete proceeds through his De-sensitization sessions his/hers response and progress can be verified using the Biofeedback [includes neuron feedback] mechanism that shows the physiological and psychological [EEG] parameters- as the changes starts to take place within the individual.


Power of Subconscious in sports

brain with neuron

The December 11, Times of India edition, carried an article on Mayank Agarwal, the Karnataka cricketer that read- New approach helps Agarwal score big. Mayank has hit a purple patch in the just concluded Indian domestic cricket season, scoring 1142 runs in 7 matches.

Speaking to the reporter Mayank said- “The book Power of subconscious mind by Joseph Murphy got me thinking about my approach to life and vipassana helped me understand life better. It taught me that life is a journey and each one of us takes a different path. I didn’t change overnight, the process has been slow and the results have only come this season,” says Mayank.

When you look at the words spoken by Mayank: you will see there are a spiritual touch and a philosophical outlook in his approach to his game. He is 26 and old enough to learn from the lessons life has taught him along the way.

Mention subconscious mind or meditation to any youngster he would vanish the very next moment or dismiss the whole thing as unreal, impractical or mystical. The scope and contribution of the subconscious mind cannot be dismissed lightly- as a non-empirical and hypothetical thing. Because many successful people have used it to good effect: it is like being religious- you know being religious is powerful but the effects can’t be measured.

Mind- the conscious and the subconscious[ unconscious]

Mind is a non-physical entity like air or electricity, something you can’t see or touch but can feel its existence. It is a bundle of thoughts or simply vibrations that happens due to firing of neurons at different parts of the brain.

The vibrations that emerge from the upper cortical areas of the brain are generally classified as the conscious mind and for those that emanate from the submerged brain parts [limbic system and other parts] below the cortex is the subconscious mind.

The conscious mind is the thinking mind- analysing, judging, planning and decision making is its true nature. But it is in the subconscious where all our learned skills, long term memories, experiences and creativity are stored. The power of the conscious mind is only the tip of the iceberg [20%] and the rest lies hidden with the subconscious [80%].

To highlight how powerful the subconscious is: all the unconscious processes like breathing, metabolism, cell growth, blood circulation, heart beating; performing of the learned skills etc is the work of the subconscious. These are actions beyond the control of the analytical conscious mind.

Once learnt, we perform activities like driving, typing, playing instruments, performing complex tasks, playing sports in an automatic mode without thinking. But, under evaluation, be it any competitive event, academics, work challenges or any other: man is habituated to be too much with the thinking conscious mind and this is like putting a virus in to a computer system- it corrupts the whole system.

Though every action or process happens with the synchrony of both the minds, being too much with the thinking mind debilitates performance. All experiences are stored in the files of the subconscious brain parts and we have to be very careful what we retrieve from the long term memories of the subconscious.

The subconscious performs according to the directions of its BOSS- the conscious mind because it is innocently dependent on the conscious mind for its inputs. Whereas the conscious mind is receptive to the direct signals it receives from the five senses namely: touch, feel [taste], sight, smell and hearing.

How we think/verbalise/believe/imagine and affirm affects what we manifest in to our lives. Because the subconscious is not bestowed with the analytical and judgemental ability: it innocently produces the result it is asked for without judging whether it is right/wrong, good/bad.

Repeated pattern of thinking: be it negative or positive, has a bearing on the subconscious and the outcome. Statements like I am no good, I am always a loser, I don’t deserve to win; will be taken literally by your sub-conscious and despite your best efforts you will never be the champion you want to be.

The negative- self-belief’s and self-fulfilling prophesies comes from the subconscious and that is what made Swami Vivekananda to say- “ whatever you think you’ll be, you think yourself as weak, weak you’ll be- if you think you are strong, strong you’ll be.  

In sports, beyond planning, strategizing, analysing – to a little extent, there is no need to over-analyse things because the execution is best left to the sub-conscious: to be performed in an automatic zone.

Factors that can influence the subconscious mind: Belief’s, Emotions, Verbal language, Authoritative figures [parents, teachers, coach, principal etc], behaviours, Imagination, Hope, faith and intense desire.

How to impregnate the subconscious mind:

The SCM can be impregnated through- Transformation in thinking, self-hypnosis, Meditation, Lucid dreaming, subliminal messages and repeated affirmations.

Dr Rudi Webster, sports psychologist wrote in his book `Think like a champion’- You should talk and listen to the little man[ subconscious], make him your best and trusted friend and work with him closely to perform your tasks and to reach your goals. If you make him your enemy he will sabotage your performance.’’


8tricks-leadThe art of dreaming and imagination is a gift bestowed upon human beings. Successful people, since the beginning of time have used imagination of mental pictures and dreams to achieve success.

Visualization or imagination is a creative concept used by scientists, architects, engineers, artists, painters, graphic designers, sports persons and other performers. The greatest creators of manmade wonders have admitted that they used their imaginary abilities before they were able to bring it in to reality.

Napoleon Hill wrote in his classic book Think and grow richImagination is literally the workshop wherein are fashioned all plans created by man. The impulse and the desire are given shape, form and action through the aid of the imaginative faculty of the mind.

In the field of sports: visualization has been used by athletes for different purposes ranging from improvement in performance, raising self-esteem and confidence to injury rehabilitation.

Sports persons are known to visualize having given a memorable performance, being declared victorious, receiving a glittering trophy, being- applauded, congratulated and crowned.

Visualization is a technique of seeing in the mind’s eye a future performance using the visual senses but Imagery is an extension of visualization where in the other senses of touch, smell, hearing and feeling are also used. For example a golfer who prepares for a swing in his imagery session can smell the grass, feel the club in his hands, and see the golf course with the greenery ahead, feel the movement of the arms, twist of the torso, hear the sound on impact and again see the ball land where it was intended.

There are two known methods of Imagery practice, they are:-

Internal imagery: – In this type of imagery you imagine your own actions, seeing and feeling from within.

External imagery:- here you are seeing yourself from outside, as though you are an outsider observing your own actions. You are seeing an image of yourself engaged in a series of motor actions.

How does Imagery work?

When a motor skill is learnt a motor plan or blue print is created and are located in the neural pathways of the brain. Each time a skill is performed the neural pathways expand and the cognitive templates become stronger. During the actual physical action the brain constantly transmits to the muscles impulses for movements to happen. During imagery, the same cognitive templates are activated as during real time performance. Real time action and imagery processes use the same areas of the brain, but in imagery, the real physical action does not happen.

The psycho neuro muscular theory suggests that low level electrical impulses are transmitted from the brain during imagery. This causes a low level innervation in the muscles which may not be equivalent to the real time physical activity, but enough to show some physical reaction happens during imagery.

Visualizing a future performance:-

  • Sit erect in a comfortable chair.
  • Do some deep abdominal breathing to get relaxed.
  • Close your eyes and observe your natural breathing for some time.
  • Recall a positive event in the past vividly to full detail.
  • Come back to the present, do some rhythmic breathing.
  • Imagine a forthcoming event that you are going to take part in.
  • See yourself performing in calm, relaxed, confident, and focused manner and in a positive state of mind. Visualize a positive performance.
  • See yourself winning the match, hearing the applause of the audience and shaking hands with the people congratulating you.

Speaking to a reporter from The Times of India, Pankaj Advani, world champion snooker player, recently said he visualizes as a part of the preparation process before an event. He said “ I visualize myself playing well and executing the right shots. At times, you have to visualize and prepare for the worst as well.’’

Ajinkya Rahane, one of India’s top batsmen does not find himself in the best of his form. Prior to his departure for the South Africa tour he started his preparations to come out of his poor patch along with his coach Praveen Amre. He is reported to have said [ TOI] – “ The other day I was sitting by myself, thinking about the what I used to do in such situations, when things didn’t go my way. We created those proper [positive] situations and I got busy playing a game of virtual cricket [visualization] inside my mind. I kept going through several such match situations inside my mind.

Absorption in the activity is mindfulness


July 2013- Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon title beating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in an intensely fought battle that lasted for 3 hours and 10 minutes. It was 77 years since a British player had won the Wimbledon title. After the match, Andy said it was mentally the toughest game he had ever played. In an emotional victory speech, he said he was in a shock and didn’t believe he had done it and couldn’t remember the final game that saw him complete the victory.

I was a witness to that match on television and was not surprised that Andy could not remember a thing about the final moments of the game: that he didn’t remember is an understatement because he was intensely absorbed and in a trance like state that saw him rewrite history for the Britons.

It is no secret that Andy Murray practices Hot Bikram Yoga – a practice that is conducted at various Bikram Studios, in temperatures of over 40 degree Celsius. Andy took to Bikram Yoga to gain mental strength and for its other benefits. Bikram Yoga, it is said, helps in controlling breathing; improving focus and calming of the mind. Whatever be the form of practice, Yoga done with mindfulness [awareness of body, breath and mind] has great advantages. May be, Andy’s emotional control, calmness and deep absorption in the activity could be attributed to Bikram Yoga. Watch this:

Mindfulness is a state where in our attention is intentionally placed on the present moment awareness. When an athlete is in the present and is with the process of the activity s/he is performing and not engaged consciously, s/he ultimately surrenders to the process and starts performing it unconsciously. This total surrender and mindfulness produces feelings of focused attention, relaxed concentration, loss of self-consciousness with a sense of control and confidence. These are mental states that contribute to the mystical sensations – commonly referred to as Flow and the Runners high.

Being involved in whatever activity we are performing and being mindfully aware of what is happening we quickly immerse our awareness in to the activity and transcend the body and mind in to a different realm and this mystical experience puts us in to a flow: suddenly you feel there is feeling of bliss, liberation, a lift in the moods, absence of pain or discomfort, absence of external distractions and a sense of smoothness and ease of movements. This is what long distance runners, marathoners and mountaineers experience when they become mindful of every step they take and every action they perform.


Recently, I was one of the members of a trekking expedition, to one of the tallest peaks in our state: as we climbed along- with the mountain being steep and treacherous, I found myself panting for breath, feeling pain and discomfort- half way through. I doubted whether I would be able to reach the peak and complete the trek. Inexperience in climbing added to the woes.

Suddenly I remembered Edmund Hilary’s quote `It is not the mountain but ourselves’ and realized the challenge was within. I switched over to mindfulness and started placing every step with awareness feeling the sensations of the softness of the soles of my shoes as it made contact with the earth, enjoying the breath- taking scenery around the mountain- the greenery, the chill and freshness of the air, the natural sounds of birds and the breeze etc: Very soon I was forgot all the pain and discomfort and felt that something was taking me forward and all I had to do was to surrender this mystical thing that would take me to the top. Later I found myself at the peak waving crazily to the others below as if I had conquered the world.

Meditation is a wonderful tool to practice mindfulness as it teaches us to be in the present with the focus on our breathing.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the spiritual guru and author of Peace in every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life, tells us – Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.          

Breathe better to perform better


Few months ago an article that appeared in TOI caught my eye, Title:` This German used Indian breathing techniques to heal POWs and refugees– the lady in question is, Katrien Hertog- Director of the peace building programme, at  International Association of human values. This organisation was founded by Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation Bangalore- India.

Katrien Hertog for the past 15 years has helped thousands of prisoners of war and refugees in Europe and central Asia [countries like Jordan and Lebanon] recover from trauma through Indian breathing techniques. She uses breathing techniques like pranayama sudarshan kriya amongst others to heal the body and mind from deep seated trauma.

It will not be an exaggeration if I say Indian breathing techniques are as old as life itself. It was learnt that the Indian sages/ yogis used yogic breathing as a natural form of breathing. The secret of their longevity was in the ability to breathe deeply. To say the least, breathing is integral with the ancient art of yoga: as it is central to every form of Yogic ASANA [Posture] and other techniques like pranayama.

When we talk of breath we think it is the incoming and outgoing of atmospheric air in to the body through the nostrils. Indeed breath is not just air but the life force containing vital elements like oxygen, which are most essential to the body. Breathing is a proof of our presence and life in general.

Breath along with food and water forms the nourishment source of our body. It supplies to the tissues, nerves, glands, brain, skin, bones and other organs with oxygen. The brain which is the control centre for the body depends heavily on oxygen, for its proper functioning. About 90% of the body’s toxins are thrown out through breath.

Emotions and breath are also intrinsically linked. By modifying the breath, we can also impact the emotional aspect of our existence and get rid of depression, stress and trauma. Deep breathing is a prescribed antidote for stress. It can flush out emotions like anger from the person.

When you compare the predator big cats like lions, tigers, cheetah and leopard and also the dogs with tortoises and elephants: you find the former set of animals live an average of 14 years and the latter go on to live beyond 100 years. The secret lies in their breathing styles- while elephants and tortoises breathe deeply dogs, lions and others breathe rapidly and shallowly.

The same is said of the modern day humans. The present day human beings have forgotten how to breathe: their shallow breathing is the reason for their stress. During shallow breathing only 70% of the air reaches the lungs, whereas in deep breathing more than 90% of air is drawn in allowing maximum supply of oxygen to the lungs.

Breathing has a huge impact on an athlete and his performance. Pressure situations can make an athlete tense, nervous, anxious, uptight, fatigued and fearful. His breathing can become shallow and rapid. S/he can tend to hold the breath, breathe rapidly or hyperventilate.

Hyperventilation happens when an athlete breathes excessively beyond his metabolic needs resulting in the lowered Co2 levels in the body. When the athlete loses too much Co2 from the body there is an over binding of Oxygen to haemoglobin, which causes poor transportation of O2 throughout the body.Co2 also plays a key role in allowing O2 release to the brain and the heart at the proper levels.


Whereas when an athlete breathes deeply it results in the improvement of HRV [heart rate variability]. HRV is necessary for a healthy heart functioning. When a person breathes in deeply his heart rate increases and while he exhales out slowly his HR slows down. This in medical terms is called RSA [Respiratory sinus arrhythmia] HRV is a greater indicator of autonomic nervous system balance. It is related to increase in physical and mental performance [Raymond, Gruzelier and others 2005, Strack 2003].

Sports psychologists- V.E. Wilson and M Cummings [2004] York University have used the advantages of long, slow and deep breathing to develop the Learned Self- Regulation [LSR] and Ahhsome techniques which incorporate breathing. The purpose of Ahhsome is to relax several systems quickly. The objective is to release tension in key muscle groups, stimulate effective breathing and to enhance good blood flow. LSR involves awareness of the mind and body states choosing to lower/ increase mental and emotional activation and changing attention and focus when needed.

To sum up the advantages of deep breathing:-

  • Promotes relaxation and calmness.
  • Increases oxygen intake.
  • Reduces the effects of anxiety and muscle tension.
  • Brings the person back to the present moment and in tune with the life force.
  • With deep breathing- focus, attention and decision making are enhanced.

During moments of pressure an athlete has time only to do two things- take some deep breaths and change the mind set to positive, in order to keep his chances alive and be hopeful of a favourable result.

This quote from Curtis Strange [golfer] talks of the importance of breathing under pressure. Under pressure, one of the important things I have to remember to do is to breathe”

Virat Kholi is an icon for India’s Youth


A United Nations report in 2014 declared India as a country with the largest youth population. India is set to become the youngest Nation by 2020.

Narendra Modi is quoted to have said `our country is full of youth power whatever future we desire, we have to keep the youth at the centre, if we do this we can surge ahead at an unmatchable pace.’

There were many tall leaders who have toiled for India’s freedom and development. But the names of the leaders, who moved the masses with their aggression and fighting qualities, which quickly come to our mind, are Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Subash Chandra Bose and Chandrasekhar Azad. These are leaders who always wanted to take the fight to the enemy and adapted a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye attitude.

India, through the course of her history has been trailing behind the developed nations and has been content in being called a developing nation. It has at best been a world follower and not a leader- for obvious reasons.

If India has to bludgeon as a world power in the future- it has to harness its youth force which is the highest in the world. If India wants to be the super power it dreams to be for the future it needs inspirational leaders of the likes of Azad, Bhagat Singh and Subash Chandra Bose- those who lent ferocity, zeal and valour taking the fight to the enemy’s camp.

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru with his remarks on Shaheed Bhagat Singh is reported to have said – he was a clean fighter who faced his enemy in the open field, he was a spark that became a flame in a short time and spread from one end of the country to the other dispelling darkness everywhere.’ Isn’t Virat Kohli one such leader today?

Virat Kohli is an ICON who represents aggression, positivity, youthfulness, desire and fierce determination. Though, it is unfair to compare the heroes who fought for us in real time, life threatening situations- facing challenges and dangers, with Virat Kohli- he can be an inspiration in his own way.

Virat  may bat on a different turf which is devoid of life threats and dangers. But, he is still a role model to millions of Indians who have always lived in the shadows of the westerners, languishing as second class citizens when compared to the rest.

Virat Kohli after becoming captain has made India a super power in world cricket – made Indian cricketers to believe that they are the best and can the rule the world. The youth of India needs such inspiration from leaders like Virat if it has to make an image makeover.

Today, Virat has hit a purple patch-scoring hundreds and double hundreds at will. He has already made 52 International centuries with 6 double hundreds to boast of. That he finds himself in a FLOW- has not come to him for nothing. His work ethics are exemplary and is a hard worker to the core. He has set high standards for himself and other team members to follow. He has brought the need to be physically fit with the right standards of diet and nutrition. His leadership style is positive, aggressive, optimistic and ambitious.

These are the qualities for the youth of India in whichever field they are in- to emulate.

Virat has also devoted himself for the noble causes and for the development for others sports in India. Virat Kohli Foundation works for the cause of the underprivileged children. Recently VKF teamed up with business tycoon Sanjeev Goenka to launch the RPSG annual India sports awards that was given away to meritorious performers in other sports too, besides supporting budding sports persons with scholarships. Virat is also the co-owner of Indian Soccer League’s FC GOA.

Virat Kohli truly is a role model and an ICON of India’s youth.



Rahul Dravid, batsman and part time wicket keeper of Indian cricket has contributed immensely to the sport. He was always known to be the crisis man for India and on number of occasions has bailed out the team from troubled waters. That he was referred to as The Wall was in recognition of his ability to anchor one end and grind the opposition to frustration.

Amongst his many records, the one that shows his steely will, stodginess and ability to concentrate for long hours- is the fact that he has faced 31258 deliveries in test cricket- the highest number of balls faced by any cricketer in the world.

Once asked about his unwavering focus Rahul Dravid said- “ you can’t concentrate for 10 hours continuously – you need to switch ON and switch OFF. When your mind wanders you bring it back, you steel yourself. The real battle is when you win the battle against yourself.

Concentration is one of the four components of success, the remaining three are- confidence, composure and commitment.

Even the simplest of task requires mental effort which is nothing but Concentration. That is why Alexander Graham Bell said- Concentrate all your thoughts to the work on hand. The sun ray’s don not burn unless it is brought to a focus.

When a person is lost in thoughts and his attention is diverted s/he cannot pay attention to the task on hand, which may lead to performance errors and in some cases there is a likelihood of injuries.

Any activity we perform requires concentration. Concentration is a skill that can be learnt and practiced. Without concentration and effort a skill will not get ingrained in to our system.The terms Concentration, Focus and Attention are used inter-changeably in different contexts. Moran [2004] said –Concentration refers to a person’s ability to exert deliberate mental effort on what is important in any given situation [and blocking out what is not].

FACTORS THAT CAN DISTURB CONCENTRATION:                               

1 Internal: Thoughts. Inadequate motivation, emotions.

2 External: Auditory & visual signals.3. Physiological: Fatigue etc.


1] Centering & thought stopping.

2] Focusing & re-focusing

3] Simulating competitive conditions

4] Dress rehearsal

5] through eye control

6] Thought parking

7] Routines

8] Concentration thro’ visualisation

9] Self-talk

10] CUES

11] Concentration practice thro Relaxation

12] Biofeedback.


1] Concentration on objects

2] Trataka: Bindu Trataka & Jyoti Trataka.

3] Concentration thro’ YOGIC exercises like Vrokshsana or the tree posture, Natarajasana – dancers pose, Mayurasana or the scale posture, Garudasana or the eagle posture, Kakasana- crow posture.

[4] Self-observation

[5] Concentrated breathing

[6] Meditation.

Highly successful athletes are less likely to get distracted with irrelevant stimuli. Gold medallist & world record holder in 400 Meters Michael Johnson’s say’s – I have learnt to cut all unnecessary thoughts on the track in order to concentrate. I concentrate on the tangible – on the track, on the race, on the blocks, & on the things I have to do. The crowd fades away and other athletes disappear and now it’s me and the lane.

Watch and listen to these videos to know more about Concentration.


                                         usain bolt 1

A recent promotional event at New Delhi saw the coming together of four great sports persons- Viswanathan Anand [chess], Michael Johnson [athletics], Adam Gilchrist [cricket] and Lothar Matthaus [football] and the theme of the discussion was: Perfection.

After reading the news reports of the promotional event: the terms perfection and perfectionism set me thinking and left me wondering as to how many lives are out of sync with mental peace and homeostasis chasing the syndrome called – perfectionism.

According to Wikipedia: Perfectionism in psychological terms is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting up of high standards: accompanied by critical self-evaluation and concerns regarding others evaluations.

We see so many around us who possess this trait. These are people who take things seriously and want to do a perfect job out of even the menial tasks. They set high standards and expect every time to live up to it. They are vulnerable to other people’s expectations as they are expected to adhere to their own bench marks. They are meticulous and detail oriented in everything they do.

These are normally the ones who compare their own performances to high standards set by others: put pressure upon them to achieve these standards.

Though there are advantages in being perfectionists there are many pitfalls that go with it. HARA ESTROFF MARANO wrote for Psychology Today and remarked that Perfectionism may be the ultimate self-defeating behaviour. It turns people in to slaves of success- but keeps them focused on failure, dooming them to a life time of doubt and depression.

Experts say that perfection is a goal that can never be attained. This is what could have prompted the famous coach Vince Lombardi to remark- `perfection is not attainable but if we chase perfection we can catch Excellence’. Lombardi is hinting that the strife for perfection can ultimately lead to Excellence which is rewarding in any performance.

Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, may have understood that perfection was not within human grasp and wrote- Perfection belongs to the Gods: the most we can hope for is excellence.

During the above mentioned promotional event Michael Johnson remarked that perfection was always elusive to him. `There was never a perfect race I never had one’– he said. Viswanathan Anand the chess grand master said- `perfection is when you make things look easy’. Matthaus, Anand, Gilchrist and Johnson were unanimous with their view that Roger Usain Bolt and Roger Federer were close to perfection in this modern era of sports.

In sports, coaches and coaching manuals impart skills [techniques] based on age-old research about the ways sport has to be executed. And those with the perfectionist trait in them want to execute the way the coaching manual prescribes and are not satisfied until they achieve the desired perfection. This puts them in a quandary because they are always in a self-evaluating mode. And when mistakes occur they indulge in self-abuse and criticism.

From my personal experience as a cricketer [batsman] and having played a bit of golf- I can say both batting and golf involves footwork, arms, hands and other parts of the body. They involve scientifically evolved techniques: when perfection is not in place or when mistakes occur we enter in to analytical mode, become self-conscious and are victims of the dreaded- paralysis by analysis. When the conscious mind interferes the execution is not the way it should be- automatic.

The need to execute the skills perfectly makes the mind anxious and the muscles tense and this leads to performance errors. We also tend to berate ourselves for the mistakes committed.

Dr Bob Rotella, the world’s leading sports psychologist and the author of Golf is not a game of perfect, writes in his book-   `Good golfers have to get over the notion that they only want to win by hitting perfect shots. The best golfers strive to minimise mistakes, but they do not expect to eliminate them’.

Bob Rotella’s best advice is – `if you want to eliminate anything, eliminate smothering perfection. You must throw away your expectations when you walk on to the golf course and play’.

This applies to every game and not just golf. isn’t it?

This is the advice Roy Bennett has for us- `Embrace being perfectly imperfect. Learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself you’ll be lot happier’. 











Few months ago an article that appeared in TOI caught my eye, Title:` This German used Indian breathing techniques to heal POWs and refugees– the lady in question is, Katrien Hertog- Director of the peace building programme, at  International Association of human values. This organisation was founded by Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation Bangalore- India.

Katrien Hertog for the past 15 years has helped thousands of prisoners of war and refugees in Europe and central Asia [countries like Jordan and Lebanon] recover from trauma through Indian breathing techniques. She uses breathing techniques like pranayama sudarshan kriya amongst others to heal the body and mind from deep seated trauma.

It will not be an exaggeration if I say Indian breathing techniques are as old as life itself. It was learnt that the Indian sages/ yogis used yogic breathing as a natural form of breathing. The secret of their longevity was in the ability to breathe deeply. To say the least, breathing is integral with the ancient art of yoga: as it is central to every form of Yogic ASANA [Posture] and other techniques like pranayama.

When we talk of breath we think it is the incoming and outgoing of atmospheric air in to the body through the nostrils. Indeed breath is not just air but the life force containing vital elements like oxygen, which are most essential to the body. Breathing is a proof of our presence and life in general.

Breath along with food and water forms the nourishment source of our body. It supplies to the tissues, nerves, glands, brain, skin, bones and other organs with oxygen. The brain which is the control centre for the body depends heavily on oxygen, for its proper functioning. About 90% of the body’s toxins are thrown out through breath.

Emotions and breath are also intrinsically linked. By modifying the breath, we can also impact the emotional aspect of our existence and get rid of depression, stress and trauma. Deep breathing is a prescribed antidote for stress. It can flush out emotions like anger from the person.

When you compare the predator big cats like lions, tigers, cheetah and leopard and also the dogs with tortoises and elephants: you find the former set of animals live an average of 14 years and the latter go on to live beyond 100 years. The secret lies in their breathing styles- while elephants and tortoises breathe deeply dogs, lions and others breathe rapidly and shallowly.

The same is said of the modern day humans. The present day human beings have forgotten how to breathe: their shallow breathing is the reason for their stress. During shallow breathing only 70% of the air reaches the lungs, whereas in deep breathing more than 90% of air is drawn in allowing maximum supply of oxygen to the lungs.

Breathing has a huge impact on an athlete and his performance. Pressure situations can make an athlete tense, nervous, anxious, uptight, fatigued and fearful. His breathing can become shallow and rapid. S/he can tend to hold the breath, breathe rapidly or hyperventilate.

Hyperventilation happens when an athlete breathes excessively beyond his metabolic needs resulting in the lowered Co2 levels in the body. When the athlete loses too much Co2 from the body there is an over binding of Oxygen to haemoglobin, which causes poor transportation of O2 throughout the body.Co2 also plays a key role in allowing O2 release to the brain and the heart at the proper levels.

Whereas when an athlete breathes deeply it results in the improvement of HRV [heart rate variability]. HRV is necessary for a healthy heart functioning. When a person breathes in deeply his heart rate increases and while he exhales out slowly his HR slows down. This in medical terms is called RSA [Respiratory sinus arrhythmia] HRV is a greater indicator of autonomic nervous system balance. It is related to increase in physical and mental performance [Raymond, Gruzelier and others 2005, Strack 2003].

Sports psychologists- V.E. Wilson and M Cummings [2004] York University have used the advantages of long, slow and deep breathing to develop the Learned Self- Regulation [LSR] and Ahhsome techniques which incorporate breathing. The purpose of Ahhsome is to relax several systems quickly. The objective is to release tension in key muscle groups, stimulate effective breathing and to enhance good blood flow. LSR involves awareness of the mind and body states choosing to lower/ increase mental and emotional activation and changing attention and focus when needed.

To sum up the advantages of deep breathing:-

  • Promotes relaxation and calmness.
  • Increases oxygen intake.
  • Reduces the effects of anxiety and muscle tension.
  • Brings the person back to the present moment and in tune with the life force.
  • With deep breathing- focus, attention and decision making are enhanced.

During moments of pressure an athlete has time only to do two things- take some deep breaths and change the mind set to positive, in order to keep his chances alive and be hopeful of a favourable result.

This quote from Curtis Strange [golfer] talks of the importance of breathing under pressure. “Under pressure, one of the important things I have to remember to do is to breathe’’







Michael Phelps.3

We are living in an era of intense competition: whether it is in education, sports, business, corporate affairs or any other area of common interest in life.

According to J.Coakley [1994], a sports psychologist: Competition is a social process that occurs when rewards are given to people on the basis of performance compared to the performances of others participating in the same event.

It is a universal truth that – in order to excel in competition an individual or a team has to prepare and execute what is learnt – in a calm, relaxed, positive and optimistic frame of mind.

Coach’s prophesise to the idea that athletes must give 100% while in competition and let the better player/team win and not worry about things that are not in one’s control – like the strength of the opponent, his rating, how well he is prepared and executes on a given day.

What is in the locus of control of any competitor is the way he reaches inside and measures against – what philanthropist and businessman Warren Buffet calls `his own internal yardstick.  Whether you lived up to your best or fell short on your personal yardstick.

You can’t blame the venue, the weather, the coach, the referee or the crowd for your poor performance. It’s always you.

You are responsible for your success and downfall: If you win it’s because of you and if you don’t do so it’s also because of you. Your competitor is not on the other side of the court it’s the person you see in the mirror every day and that’s you.

In any competition, whatever its magnitude- the challenge is not the competition or the opponent it’s within the challenger at all time. As Edmund Hillary rightly said- It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

What stops us from being the best is our own fragilities- our insecurities, our anxieties, our lack of confidence or too much of it, our inability to concentrate or maintain the ideal mental balance while in competition. This is what prompted Bobby Knight– the famous basketball coach to say– Your biggest opponent isn’t the other guy: its human nature. 

Every day you wake up, strive to do better than what you did yesterday: pushing for those little accomplishments that will keep motivating you for bigger deeds.

The advantages of being your own competitor

1 You will know your strengths and weaknesses

2.You will develop self-awareness and begin to take necessary action.

3 Pushing your limits will encourage and motivate you upwards.

4 You will raise the bar and improve your overall standards.

5 You will not be intimidated by your opponents or be bothered by outcomes.

I was talking to a swimmer from India who trained years before in the same camp [in USA] as the legendary swimmer Michael Phelps did.

In one of the camp meets he was lined up a few places to where Phelps was standing and he felt overwhelmed by the presence of the great swimmer- conscious of his presence all the time.

When I asked him what would he do if happened to be competing with Michael Phelps again: he said- “ I will swim my race he will swim his. His record is his record however great it might be, my duty is to compete against myself and improve my timings: that’s all I can do.’’ 

So, my dear athletes, the next time you are in the pool or on a track- Swim your own race, focus on your lane and your track record and how you can better your best. Who knows- One day it may be good enough to be a world record.


Most people, before writing an exam or taking part in an important event are tormented by mental demons like – anxiety, nervousness, lack of confidence and hope- due to self-doubt and fear. And it is obvious that even an iota of doubt can lead to unsatisfactory performance.

More often parents, coaches, teachers and other authoritative people encourage the performers by saying- believe in yourself. I can say with conviction that- It is not possible for you to command your self-belief to appear from nowhere and perform for you unless you have it within you: not to call it an inborn quality but something that is nurtured and built over time.

The terms self-confidence, self-belief, self-esteem and self-image are used interchangeably in different contexts, though, they are not exactly one and the same. Self-confidence is the belief that you can perform a particular task successfully. It is dynamic: that which varies from task to task.

The confidence you have in one task may not be the same for other tasks. Whereas self-belief is the overall confidence you have upon you as a whole person and this is dependent on your self-image [self-esteem] that is what you think of yourself, your abilities and your chances of performing something successfully.

Our self-image is more or less governed by what we feel about our self [the person in the mirror] and what others thought and said about us since childhood.

It is common to see athletes lose form, confidence and go in to a slump- it can sometimes happen due to unknown reason when everything is going smoothly OR with known reasons: in any case the athletes can work their way back to good times. But, there are many instances where athletes in spite of being talented and skilled don’t do justice to their potential and end up as the second-best.

More often than not these are cases of lack of self-image> lack of self-esteem > lack of self-belief- that is deep rooted and built over years. In this case as I said, it is not easy to demand self-belief instantly. ` The- I don’t deserve feeling is so dominant here that it is difficult to be the best. I read a quote long time ago that read- You can never outperform your own self-image.  You are as good as the image you hold in your mind.

The lack of self- belief  leads to negative self-fulfilling prophecy – the feeling about one self and what the person expects that should happen to him in the future.

Athletes, who lack self-belief don’t do well because they expect not to do well because they are pessimistic of their chances and are controlled by their negative self-fulfilling prophecies- disguised as fate or destiny. They could lose matches from winning positions because they don’t believe they can win championships.

The reasons that could destroy self-esteem from a young age: to create a negative self-image could be: – lack of unconditional love, upbringing, family atmosphere, financial condition in the family, adversities, life incidents & experiences, lack of encouragement, support, attention, negative parenting- like comparisons, high expectations, excessive abuse, too strict with principles  etc.

These are the circumstances that can put a  I don’t deserve the best stamp on the mind of the athlete- which could be very difficult to remove even in the later years.

Said Sheryl Swoopes a former WNBA basketball player- I’ve always been a firm believer of mind over matter. If you don’t believe you can achieve, your body will start to believe this and you’ll be stuck.

In contrast if you continue to believe in every cell of yours on a consistent basis then you can hope to attain the best.

This belief is well supported by Aimee Mullins a Paralympic athlete, actress and fashion model that had to have both legs amputated when she was one year old due to- Fibular Femimelia. She say’s- Belief in oneself is incredibly infectious.

It generates momentum, the collective form of which far outweighs any kind of self-doubt that may creep in. She is a perfect example of one who had to overcome tragedy at an early age to achieve what she did- showing immense self-belief.  Aimee didn’t let her adversity ruin her Self-image or self-belief, she used it as an opportunity. She changed her legs to change her mindset. See this video-

The good news is – one need not be a puppet in destiny’s hands forever and it is possible to come out of the shell and prove our self-worth like so many who have done- before us. This is how Maya Angelou puts hope in to those who don’t like their own image. Her message – ` If you don’t like something- Change it. If you can’t change it – Change your attitude [the way you look at it and think about it]

Mohamed Ali was perhaps the greatest boxer of all times, He maintained his supreme self-belief by saying – I am the best -over and over and over again.

Tiger Woods, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, M.S.Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Vivian Richards are some of the people who I can believe possess [ed] tremendous self-belief.

Ways by which you can change your self-belief

  1. Work on your self- image and self-esteem. Seek therapy sessions with positive psychology to go with. Important to feel good from inside.
  2. Work hard at your skills; this will improve your self-efficacy and your belief. It increases your confidence and hope.
  3. Change your inner talk [ self-talk] replace the negatives with- I can , I will It’s easy, I am good, I deserve the best, I am a champion etc.
  4. Think more of your abilities, the possibilities and the victories of the past.
  5. Visualise often believing- giving out a better performance and winning.
  6. Work on your mental toughness and resilience.

What is your style?

Since childhood I have seen the world of film, music and sports industry flaunt several names that have gone on become icons in their respective professions.

The names that I can easily recall are- Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Jean Paul Belmondo, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Michael Caine, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Amitabh Bhachan, Shatrugan Sinha, Dev Anand, Sharukh Khan, Rajnikanth, KamalHasan,Dr Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Priyanka Chopra to Deepika Padukone from the movie Industry. Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson from the music industry and Nawab of Pataudi, David Beckam, Bjorn Borg, Arnold Parmer, Yuvraj Singh, Maria Sharapova, Virat Kohli from the sports industry- to name a few.

I have wondered what it was that made them so famous that the whole young generation followed them, endorsed them, copied them, and adored them: that they became proud possessions in their hearts.

I understand that though they are different individuals their unique way of expression and mannerisms pleased the common people to become their die-hard fans.

Their unique way of expression has become their Style– the unique way of doing things. It could simply be with their stylish ways of expression or the way they dressed or carried themselves.

Style is an individual expression in motor action. No two athletes are alike in different factors which determine motor action.

I found this apt explanation of style in [Indraneel Ghosh] –Each athlete because of his/her particular psychic, physical and biological capacities realises the technique in different manner. This is his style.

As sports enthusiasts we can remember seeing several of our favourite players like G.R.Vishwanath, Sunil Gavaskar, Brian Lara, David Gower, Michael Holding, Roger Federer, Rahul Dravid, Mark Waugh, Sourav Ganguly and now Rohit Sharma- their play that looked so graceful and elegant: that always seemed smooth, with effortless ease- devoid of strain.

Their actions were so pleasing to the eyes that the commentators remarked`a treat to the eyes: it was worth going miles to watch.’

The individualistic forms of expression have their presence in – Leadership: referred to as Leadership styles [Modi is quite different from Manmohan Singh, so are Virat and Dhoni]. In Coaching – referred to as Coaching styles- wherein each coach has his own way of teaching and communicating.

Ravi Shastri is different from Anil Kumble as a coach. Likewise a person’s behaviour, his responses to people and situations becomes his own characteristic and style. Vivian Richards and Virat Kohli are aggressive characters – that’s their style.

Michael Clarke speaking about the recent decline in performance of the Australian side during a TV commentary discussion quipped- The Aussies have always been aggressive on the field be it with sledging or fighting hard – that was their style– which this Australian side has failed to be. So Style can go well with Individual’s/ teams’ attitude and character.

Many sporting stars have been style icons for the fashion Industry be it Virat, Dhoni, Sindhu, Sania, Saina, Maria Sharapova or Yuvraj Singh as they are commonly seen endorsing various brands. They have a way in their dressing and presentation off the field too, that is clearly a fashion statement these days.

Rickie Fowler one of the top ten golfers in the world is a multi- faceted person: a fashionable guy is seen sporting bright colours like orange on the golf course during the PGA’s – that’s his Style.  Speaking to USA TODAY he said- I feel the way I dress and go about my way and handle myself on the golf course reflects who I am.

Johan Cruyff has been rated as one of the top-10 footballers of all time. A favourite with the crowd wherever he went, he developed his own indomitable style that won him millions of fans all over the world. He once said- ` Winning is an important thing, but to have your own style, to have people copy you, to admire you – that is the greatest gift.’ Indeed, an immortal style statement.   


An article in Deccan Herald dtd 24/9/17- The celebrity whirlpool by Karen Crouse: courtesy New York Times News service : that highlighted the struggles of two great swimmers Michael Phelps and Grant Hackett with Anxiety and depression: set me to think deeply- If people who visit professionals seeking help are advised along with other remedies: to indulge in exercise and physical activity, as these promote the release of Serotonin- a neurotransmitter which has a therapeutic value to fight depression- why then athletes who throughout their lives engage in sports and physical activities at insane levels are prone for mental illness and depression? I will not end with the word- PERIOD here, because the whole issue is a discussable thing.

When the beautiful Deepika Padukone, one of the leading actresses of Bollywood [Mumbai film Industry] came out in the open about her fight with depression- during the Mental health day- It set tongues wagging- ‘Hey, she’s got everything one could expect- how could she be suffering from depression?’

This is just not the case with Phelps, Hackett or Deepika alone: thousands of celebrities Athletes, film stars, artists, politicians and many others from different walks of life are known to be suffering from depression and other forms of mental illnesses.

Earlier the names of the celebrities used to be under wraps but now there is very little stigma attached to it, as people are coming out in the open to express themselves with regard to this vexed issue.

Marcus Thescothik. Freddie Flintoff, Sarah Taylor, Monty Panesar [all cricketers] Ian Thorpe, Greg Louganis, Phelps, Hackett [all swimmers] Paul Gascoigne [football] Serena Williams [Tennis] and John Daly [Golf] have known to have suffered forms of mental illnesses. There may be many others unnamed or unknown.

Research goes to show that athletes are likely to suffer from depression as non-athletes and female athletes in particular expressed more depression symptoms than men. Again, individual athletes are more prone than athletes involved in team sport.

The reason for this according to Professor Jürgen Beckmann of the Technical university of Munich – individual athletes are prone since they are lonely and they attribute failure more to themselves than team sport athletes. They take success and failure more personally than team players. In a team sport there is diffusion of responsibility compared to individual sports.

Elite athletes are known to lead a dream life as many other aspirants would put it- in their terms. The elite earn a lot of money through contracts, prize money, sponsorships, endorsements etc and it needs no telling as to what money can buy.

They lead a jet-set life flying from one city to another: lodge at five star hotels: have their own jets, yachts, villas and tiny islands. When they have all those things that are supposed to make them happy: then why do they get depressed is the common man’s question that looks at life from outside the glass house. In reality people who live in these glass houses only know what they go through.

Michael Phelps said in an interview that they are normal people and go through the same struggles as the others do. Many of those suffering express the need to be treated as a person first and as a celebrity athlete, later.

Let’s explore some of the possible reasons for athletes to suffer from mental illnesses:- Fear of failure and actual failure, injury and recovery, performance anxiety, demands to perform and win every time, continuous travel and competitions without break and recovery, staying away from loved ones, fatigue and sickness, being dropped from sides for non-performance, living in closed rooms of 5 star hotels, scrutiny by the press and public [ probe in to private life], retirement and identity crisis post retirement, lack of social support from family and friends, lack of socializing and social contact, indulging in substance abuse to beat boredom, changing life-styles, death of dear ones, relationship issues and inability to lead the life of a common man.  

What are the tell-tale symptoms of mental illnesses With drawl from friends and activities, moodiness, feelings of anxiety, anger or sadness, indecision and lack in concentration, loss of appetite and weight changes, low pleasure and interest, feelings of low self-worth and guilt with drop in performance

Many organisations connected to sports have initiated programmes to help athletes identify symptoms of mental illness and further seek professional help. In India, with cricket being a major sport and the teams play continuously round the trot and staying away from families for longer periods of time plus the continuous travelling and living out-of-suitcases take a toll on their emotional health and they get prone to the symptoms of depression. I hope one of the richest sports bodies in the world the BCCI is doing enough to help cricketers identify and thwart depression before its onset.

Early diagnosis, professional help from behavioural psychologists or psychiatrists, CBT therapy with counselling will help athlete’s combat mental illness.



A very recent column in TOI spoke of the Age verification exercise taken up by the Badminton Association of India. These tests were subsequently held at the All India Institute of Medical sciences at New Delhi on September 16.

This move was to remove age fraud cases from the national camps ahead of the Junior World and Asian Badminton meets. A set of shuttlers were asked to appear and clear the requirements of the test as stipulated by sports authority of India.

This news bit took me back in time to the year 2004-2005: when my son Akhil, a table tennis player representing Karnataka, was participating in National sub junior & junior championships in Chennai.

In the sub-junior singles event he entered the pre-quarter finals and eventually lost to a West-Bengal player: who looked taller, stronger and more mature for this age-category. Most people looked at this boy in suspicion wondering if he legally belonged to the sub-junior age category or whether he was cheating with his age.

It so happened that the TTFI authorities in co-operation with the TNTTA subjected number of players to a surprise age test at a local hospital. The results were not declared till late in the night.

Since it was Akhil’s last event of the tournament and also, since an epidemic was feared- post the tsunami that had ravaged many parts of south India including Chennai: we [including Akhil] hurriedly left to Bangalore the same night.

After having reached Bangalore the next morning I received a phone call from my team manager stating that the boy against whom Akhil lost was debarred from further participation due to over- age and Akhil was promoted and slated to play the quarter-finals at 10.00 am in the morning.

To his utter dismay, he had to concede a walk-over since we hardly had the time to reach Chennai before 10 am. There was gloom in our family and we were plunged in grief to see on the TV screen the announcement of- Akhil conceding a walk-over in the quarter finals. Experiences have a larger bearing on you and this personal experience of age fraud can never be erased from my memory.

Cheating in sports is age-old with drug abuse and age-fraud being the favourite methods adopted by the unethical community: to derive advantages of sporting success. In India the date-of- birth certificate and the school leaving certificate [S.S.L.C or 10th] are considered as the valid age proof for school children. It is a customary practice by this fraud group [present everywhere] to obtain manipulated/ fraudulent/ bogus birth certificates from the state owned Department Registration of Birth and deaths, to be submitted to the schools and in many instances the school records have been changed as per the wishes of the members of this group in collusion with the school authorities.

When the child comes out of the school after 10 Th class or 12 Th class his passing out certificate becomes the authentic legal age proof document which could be boldly presented on demand. Who can dare question this document?

The reason why people resort to this unethical practice is to give the child [player] an unfair advantage over the others in the same age group category. An additional year or two can mean a lot to the growing children physically.

A year or two more means that additional year/two of more practice to hone the skills plus the advantage of physical attributes like the gain in height, stamina and strength. This practice is genuinely unfair as it denies opportunity to the correct age player to compete fairly in the competition.

It is sheer injustice to the honest player [like Akhil] who sacrifices and compromises on a lot of things and works hard with big goals and dreams. When will this stop? In this context the stand taken by Badminton India is a welcome move. I hope many associations follow suit to curb the menace of this scourge group.

It is not just the case of India: the African countries and may be many others, have also been accused of this unfair practice. Nigeria the winners of the U-17 football world cup in three of the last five editions find themselves not qualified for the U-17 soccer WC to be staged in India in October 2017. Reason: A staggering 26 members of the U-17 team failed the age-test carried out ahead of the African Cup of Nations qualifier.

With rapid advancements in science & technology: research related tests to determine the age of an individual have been put forth and it is now up to the sports fraternity across the world to use these facilities and take up the matter earnestly to see injustice does not happen to the just and the ethical community.

My suggestion is to treat this issue in par with drug abuse and create laws suitably.


You may not be the most intelligent with multiple degrees to boast, but people call you smart because you have lots of common sense: you know your way around with things: you communicate well; your social skills are great and you have the ability to solve life problems.

People say you are shrewd. You possess the mental alertness to take quick practical decisions. You are the GO-TO  man: the kind- of- person who people trust to get the trickiest job done. They very well know you will somehow get the job finished. Guys, if you are one of the kind then- you definitely are street smart.

Street smartness is not restricted to daily life: it has its say in the Sports arena too. Every sport warrants certain skills and techniques that need to be executed in a certain way. More often that is the way your teacher teaches you to perform and these are the fundamentals or the basics over which you game are built.

When your style is confined to these basics- then you are an orthodox player. But, there are many who exhibit their own style which generally is unorthodox. The point here is, though these guys are unorthodox- they are effective and successful. The purists and the connoisseurs may scorn at their style but, that’s the way the Virender Sehwag’s and M.S.Dhoni’s play. Aren’t they successful?

I know of professional golfers whose backswing and downswing may not be according to the coaching manuals: but as the club come down to the point of contact it is in the right position and speed for the ball to fly and go the distance.

Indian wicketkeeper M.S Dhoni’s style of wicket keeping may not be prescribed to the budding wicketkeepers but his records speak for itself-he is effective behind the stumps isn’t he? These guys are smart: they know what it takes to succeed and they have- adapted well.

Brad Gilbert is a former U.S tennis player. He is an Olympic gold medal winner, a Davis cupper. A world number 4 in the year 1990.He wasn’t highly rated and didn’t exhibit great talent but he made his presence felt by troubling the best in business.

His secret lay in playing smartly studying each opponent, his style, strengths and weaknesses. He never played a stereo typed game against everyone. He was known for his pre-game mental preparation. When asked he said ` I don’t over power people, I don’t have flashy shots: I win because I have the ability to implement my game strategy successfully I maximise my strengths and minimise my weaknesses.

I want them to be hitting shots that they don’t like form positions they don’t want.’  [From the book: Winning ugly]. People didn’t admire his style: someone made a comment- `How in the hell does this guy win? He hits like a caveman how found a tennis racquet.’  Isn’t Brad Gilbert Street smart?

You can find Street Smart athletes everywhere. How to look for them and what are the attributes they carry?

Street smart athletes are those:-

  • Who know their strengths and weaknesses and know how to maximise the strengths.
  • Who know their game style: what works for them and what do not.
  • Who are self-aware and learn from the previous mistakes.
  • Who do not repeat the mistakes that gave them grave consequences.
  • Who are percentage players who play within themselves and don’t overdo things.
  • Who learn quickly, know to survive and adapt to the requirements of the of the modern day competitive world.
  • Who are alert, creative and quick at the out-of-the-box
  • Who are cunning and calculative and are quick to seize opportunities.
  • Who don’t overanalyse things and keep it simple. This keeps them in emotional control.
  • Who are not slaves to technique and know what it takes to be effective than perfect.
  • Who are hard workers but they don’t slog aimlessly: they know what it takes holistically to succeed and are not shy for efforts. In short: They work hard but smart.

Street smartness applies to coaches and captains too, they  are aware of how to communicate in different ways to be understood. They know how to be effective and get the work done smartly from their troops.

The legendary footballer PELE a genius by himself once said-` I don’t repeat the same mistake again.’ That’s a SMART footballer for you.



Heard of Marvan Atapattu-the Sri Lankan cricketer: if you are a cricket enthusiast then you must have. His story is one of perseverance, resilience and a never-give- up- attitude.

Making his debut in test cricket for Sri Lanka he was out to 0 in both innings. As a result he was dropped for the next test. He went back to domestic cricket made lots of runs and got a recall after 21 months.

This time around he made 0 & 1- failure. Same result- dropped from the test squad. He had to prove himself all over again. He went back to the grind and finally after a gap of 17 months gets another chance to prove his prowess.

The duck luck didn’t seem to have deserted him: he was out to 0 in both innings. Oh! No! Not again- dropped from the team instantly.

Many thought he wouldn’t play for Sri Lanka gain- but Marvan was not willing to give up: he was patient and perseverant, worked hard, made runs and after 3 years won a recall to the test team.

This time he came good and scored. He became a permanent feature of the Sri Lankan side from then on and scored more than 5000 runs with 16 centuries and 6 double centuries. He even captained his country.

What I admire about Marvan Atapattu is his resilience- the ability to bounce back from setbacks, mistakes and adversity.

You see that players are dropped from their team owing to poor performance and it is often the case to see them disappointed, devastated, and de-motivated. It is a common feature with sports persons to be haunted by defeats, setbacks, injuries and adversities in their careers.

You have seen the Yuvraj’s, Raina’s, Dinesh karthik’s, Nehra’s, Harbajan’s staging comeback’s in to the Indian cricket team.  It is even common to see players bounce back in to the match when they are staring at defeat.

To start over all again prove yourself back to reckoning is daunting task but sports persons do it all the time as it is the case of: a chosen career, an unfulfilled ambition or the unwillingness to give up all the glitz, glamour, name, fame and money that is associated with their sport.

You have also seen many athletes return from injuries to be highly successful then on. For all those who have made successful comebacks there have been thousands of athletes who have failed to bounce back.

It is in this in-between period that players go through a lot of turmoil- they think negatively, they doubt themselves, they lose their hope and above all they are not ENTHUSIASTIC enough to work hard, set goals, renew their hope and give their best shot. When your drive [motivation] is on the wane it is very difficult to push yourself to push hard and go through the GRIND all over again.

All you have to do is to be ENTHISIASTIC about your prospects of staging a successful comeback. Your enthusiasm fuels THE DRIVE to set goals, work hard, to be determined and achieve the desired objective.

Your enthusiasm will set up a sense of heightened feeling that would provide the interest to work towards your goals. You will feel the need to get up each morning and slog it out before the sun rises. Be ENTHUSIASTIC with regard to your future endeavours: let it provide the fuel for your legs, fire in the belly and a dash of hope for your brain.

If you are not enthusiastic at your age what would you say of Charles Eugster who started running at 95 years of age? Watch this video-




Shikhar Dhawan, the Indian cricket team’s opening batsmen is going through a purple patch in the middle part of 2017. When asked about the happy zone he is in at the moment [TOI 21/08/17] he said he wanted to enjoy the moment and not lose sleep over the law of averages that would catch up in the future.

He remarked- I am embracing the successful period now. When I was not doing well I was focusing on my processes. When I am doing well I am still focused on my processes.

What does Shikhar mean by being in the process? According to PROCESS is referred to as a continuous action, operation or series of changes taking place in a definite manner [to bring about a specific result].

Sports persons have to perform series of movements or actions based on the opponent moves or respond to a moving ball or a shuttle or even a stationary ball or a target. And, for this process to happen successfully the conscious mind has to be brought to a focus to the now and what needs to be done next. This is what is commonly referred to as present moment awareness.

The saga of most sports persons is that they are lost in the past or thinking about the future instead of being in the present moment- the here and now. They are still thinking about the set they just lost or the previous mistake they committed OR they may be thinking far ahead about the victory celebrations or worry about the shame they would have to experience if they lost.

When a person is lost in thoughts [internal distractors] he is bound to lose concentration and lapses in concentration lead to performance errors and improper decision making. The resultant effect could be in the decrements of performance.

More often than not, sportsperson carry bagful of painful memories, thoughts of setbacks or future insecurities which could haunt them during performance thus robbing them of the power of now.

The wise men have said- the past is history, future is mystery and the present is the PRESENT. We can’t change the past and the future is yet to descend but we can ruin a perfect present by worrying about them-both. One must remember that it is in the present that all the challenges have to be fought.

It is not entirely wrong to look in to the past or think about the future. If so, when is the right time to look in to them? The right time would be the practice sessions. We have to approach the practice sessions with the TRIPOD CAMERA in mind.

The idea of the tripod camera was suggested by Mr Spencer Johnson in his bestselling book- THE PRESENT He say’s – the camera is the person- THE FOCUS. The first leg represents the PAST and what we have learnt from them, the second leg represents FUTURE– what plans we have for the future. The third leg represents the PRESENT.

So, folks when you are in a performance 1] be in the present moment 2] do not do conscious thinking 3] be aware of what is happening around you 4] trust your natural instincts and let go 5] things will happen on their own.

Methods that could teach a person to be in the present:-

By Meditation- focusing on the breath.

By Centering – by taking a deep breath during moments of distraction.

By focusing on each of your senses for about 10 seconds.

By focusing on an object like the tree, your racquet, or the net, or looking at a particular colour: green / blue – just to take your mind away from thoughts & distractions.

By Trataka [gazing] – gazing at a flame or a point on the wall.



Novak Djokovic told New york times- `Physically there is not much difference between the 78 and number 1, 2 or 5. Everybody works for hours and hours on the court. It is the mental ability to handle pressure, to play well at the right moments and that’s the difference with the top 10 players.’ 

Even Rafael Nadal echoed with the same feeling when he said – `If you watch a number 10 or the number 500 in training you will not be able to tell who is up on the rankings. Without pressure of competition they will move and hit the ball the same way.’

`The ability to handle pressure and not just physical skills, is what separates the best from the merely talented is what Karen Crouse wrote for the New York Times Service under the heading The difference is all in the head.’

If the ability to handle pressure and emotions is what discriminates the winner from the loser, what does the lack of it do for the losers during the heat of the moment? –It can cause psychological and physiological changes like muscle tension, fatigue, low energy and serious negative emotions like anger.

Does that mean that the winners never feel pressure and the ensuing emotions? No, everybody goes through them but the Elite have gone through The Grind and know what it takes to handle pressure and resulting Emotions and how not to be bothered by them.

Today, when you see Roger Federer, unfazed by any match situation: you are awe struck with his ability to manage emotions and bounce back to the game. In the recently concluded Wimbledon Tournament, which Roger won, I saw, while he was serving and whenever he was 0-30 down: he was not cowed down but served perfect aces to make it 30-30.

He is now the complete champion who is always calm, cool and in emotional control with himself. And this did not come simply- he had to work on himself for this transition from a racquet throwing youngster to a calm guy that he is today. Watch this video:-

Our emotions have a major role to play in any performance. It largely depends on how much our thought, feelings and actions are positive.

Though emotions like anger and anxiety are useful to a little extent too much of it can debilitate performance. An emotion is defined as a subjective conscious experience characterised by psycho-physiological expressions, biological reactions and mental states.

It is influential with mood, temperament, personality disposition and motivation. It is also influenced by hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, cortisol and GABA [ source-WIKIPEDIA].

Normally thoughts gives rise to feelings which when stimulated gives rise to emotion associated with action. An emotion is a reaction to a stimulus which can either be real or imagined.

We normally see it is not just the athletes who undergo emotions- coaches, parents, officials and spectators can also get very emotional during competitions.

Three important factors necessary to understand emotions:

  1. 1. What triggers an emotion?
  2. 2.How the body and mind respond to this stimulus and express their reaction.
  3. 3.How these responses make us to experience the emotion further.

We are normally governed by four primary emotions liker Fear, Anger, Sadness and joy.

Who is an emotionally intelligent athlete?

  1. One who responds to a situation with the right positive emotion.
  2. One who regulates emotions well.
  3. One who uses mental skills like imagery, self-talk, deep breathing & other techniques to regulate emotions.
  4. One who can be mentally tough and does not allow his emotions to harm his performance.
  5. Does not show emotions during pressure situations.

Strategies for emotional regulation

  1. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques, flooding, systematic de-sensitization & self-hypnosis
  2. Positive self-talk and affirmations
  3. Imagery for control of emotions
  4. General anger management techniques
  5. Music therapy & Meditation
  6. Physical exercises.
  7. Body massage.
  8. Counselling and psychotherapy.

To know more about EMOTIONS IN SPORTS- Read my bestselling book- SUCCESS MANTRAIN SPORTS- Sold online through Amazon & Flipkart.

Enjoy the activity, have fun, perform better.


In life, we hear people often, say- I don’t enjoy the work I am doing; it gives me a lot of stress. I am looking for a change. When you don’t like the work you are doing it becomes monotonous, boring and stressful. That is why it is said, in order to be satisfied with what you are doing- you need to enjoy the work and be passionate about it.

In sports, as in life, we hear that many athletes burn out due to monotony, competitive stress, high level of intensity, less social life and above all lack of fun & enjoyment. You can compare fun & enjoyment to the wick and oil in the lamp. As long as they exist the light doesn’t flicker out. The moment an athlete at the elite level feels burdened and stops enjoying the game staleness and burnout results and there is a tendency to quit. So, most of the elite athletes who have gone through the grind would advise the younger lot to enjoy the activity despite all the upheavals. I have heard or read about elite athletes talking about the importance of fun & enjoyment. Speaking to the TIMES Magazine this is what Lionel Messi, the wizard of football, had to say- Football is a game. I am trying to have fun on the pitch, always, just to play. That’s why I do it. The day I stop having fun is the day I retire.”

Whenever people spoke about- having fun and enjoyment– I wondered whether it was only a figure of speech and whether it was possible in this intense and serious world of competition. And, when I looked in to the meaning of Enjoyment I was led to believe it was possible. Enjoyment is a feeling of pleasure caused by doing or experiencing something you like or simply getting satisfaction out of something. To say the least, Fun & enjoyment are used interchangeably. And, it is possible for the coaches and parents to make the activity fun for the kids- such, they enjoy every moment of it.

You can enjoy the activity by making the right choice of what you do, according to your natural intelligence you possess- which is generally called- Talent. Going forward, people must be passionate for the activity that seems to flow from their inner crevices without any external prompt. That is, when you wake up every day you look forward to the activity. And, the rest is all work, work & more work.

In order to attain Excellency in a chosen profession it entails one to put in dedicated, countless hours of effort and if one doesn’t enjoy the work then it will go futile. Said Karrie Webb, the golfer- If you don’t enjoy it- then putting in long hours take their toll.

Said Dale Carnegie, the author of- `How to win friends and influence people- People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. 

Feelings of Fun & enjoyment are a positive emotion and- sports are meant to be fun. The following sequence talks of the benefits of Enjoyment- Enjoyment> positive emotion> motivation> Desire for participation> persistence> exertion of effort>learning >commitment to sports> happiness > success> longevity in the activity. 

To remind ourselves it was for fun & enjoyment that we encourage children in to some form of physical activity- for its various benefits. Group activity and socialising through sports definitely promotes fun and satisfaction in children. Parents are to be reminded that in order to keep the incense burning children need to enjoy the activity and them, in turn must have fun watching their children play.

Harsha Bhogle tweeted [15/7/17] – When I saw Federer up against a rampaging Djokovic couple of years ago, couldn’t have imagined his best tennis was ahead of him.  Roger Federer has won his eighth Wimbledon title at 35 years of age and is playing the best tennis of his life, Experts say the Reason why he is so good these days is that he is playing with lot more freedom and is cherishing and enjoying his game like he had never done before. This is what enjoying your game is- all about.

Burnout is the reason for boredom in players

Bernard Tomic

I felt bored out there: It’s tough to find motivation– said Bernard Tomic 24, speaking to reporters after his first round loss to Mischa Zverev@ Wimbledon 2017-Times sport- 6th July 17. Bernard, who turned PRO at 15, had a career best ranking of 17 and is considered as one the top players in the circuit.

Thanasi Kokkinakis 21, who is a promising tennis player with a highest career ranking of 69: turned PRO during 2013 @17 years of age: said recently – ‘ I sometimes feel bored in practice sessions and smaller tournaments, but not @ Wimbledon. Is this boredom a mental issue among younger players and a cry for help? Probably yes!

This is not one would expect from these talented youngsters who have a long career ahead of them. Tragedy, that it can be, it could be one of the reasons why the younger lot have not been able to perform consistently at the highest level to trouble the best in business. Staleness and burnout can only be the reasons for this disturbing symptom.

It has been a trend to make the children to start sport as early as 6 or 7 and begin to take part in competitions by age of 9. There are instances of young teens turning PRO by 15 years of age. It does not warrant an expert to say what happens when one turns PRO. It involves intensity with vigorous training, practice, travel and competitions all year round. The pressure to keep winning and meet competitive demands is enormous. It is at this age these young PRO’S go through the grind when their peers are enjoying their life out there. Tomic said he has been on the tour since 17and have played at Wimbledon for 7 years already, as in 2017.

This continuous grind throughout the year takes its toll: though it does not have to be a rule- there have been instances where the younger Pros have burnt-out due to this. The probable symptoms of burnout in Tomic and Kokkinakis could be- 1. Apathy and lack of interest in the activity 2. Lack of desire to practice or contest in terms of achievement 3. Physical and mental exhaustion 4. Lack of enjoyment 5. Feeling jaded and stale with BOREDOM. The probable reasons could be that 1.the players could have given it too much in to less time 2. The sport has been too monotonous without any form of enjoyment & socializing 3. Injuries and mental breakdowns forcing lay- off from competition for a long time 4. Competition too stressful.

This is what could have forced Tomic to say- ‘I know Wimbledon is one of the biggest tournaments but I couldn’t find anything [motivation and momentum].

Having achieved too much in too less time [external motivation] might have forced Tomic to say- ‘I have won titles in my career: I have made finals a lot: I feel holding a trophy doing well doesn’t satisfy me anymore. At some point of time he must have made a conscious decision to continue playing for security, as there was no alternate career and he has identified himself with Tennis. This is called entrapment.  He could be playing professional Tennis to build financial security: drawing inference from his recent press conference- ‘ I am going to play for another 10 years and I know after that in my career, I don’t have to work again.’ This situation has happened many times in Tomic’s career and has also been accused of tanking– as it happened against Zverev, when he gave in too easily.

Burnout involves a psychological, emotional and sometimes physical withdrawal from a formerly enjoyable activity in response to stress or dissatisfaction over time [Smith 1996].

This situation is totally in contrast with players like Roger Federer who at 35 continue to enjoy the game wanting to get better all the time. It is all about intrinsic motivation– which could be the only HOPE for youngster who turn pro early and want to stay in the circuit for long.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at



Being fearless is the X-Factor in sports

22kvitova-web-master768Petra Kvitova the Czech tennis star was robbed in her home shortly after Christmas and the attacker stabbed her playing hand- leaving her to nurse the injuries. Speaking about the incident in a recent interview to the press [TOI-Reuters 2JULY] she said-` Before I was very nervous before every match, now I see I shouldn’t be. Sometimes I am thinking on the court that I already won the biggest fight and if I fight in the match, it doesn’t matter if I win or lose I will still be happy to play. I see tennis and life from a different angle than before. I am not sure if it is the result of what happened but maybe I feel fearless now of what happened.’

Ramkumar Ramanathan world no 222, from India, recently stunned the whole world by defeating the world no8 Dominic Thiem in the Antalya open-in straight sets. He told TOI shortly after the match-` Beating a Top 10 player makes me fearless now. I am definitely not scared of my next opponent now.’ After reading these responses I asked myself – what were they fearing in the first place: to feel fearless now? My mind said-` hey, it is the same predicament that plagues the entire human race: Fear of failure– fear of defeat or simply- fear of loss.

Fear is one of the four primary emotions- the other three are anger, sadness and joy. Anxiety represented by worry, nervousness and panic is experienced by most performers in general and athletes in particular- before a competition or during it and all of these feelings fall under-FEAR. Pressure and choking are also as a result of –FEAR: the fear of defeat or fear of failing.

Why are the performers terrified of failure?

In this evaluative environment everything is judged on the basis of results: making it a result oriented competitive world. Success [string of victories] will give you pride, name, fame and monetary benefits, scholarships, sponsorships etc. On the contrary – string of losses [wrongly termed as failures] will give you shame, see you slipping in your grades, seeding’s and risk losing your scholarships or sponsorships. So, athletes want to avoid this precarious situation and would like to keep succeeding. In this competitive world children begin to understand from an early age that you have to keep winning and it is a crime to lose. So, defeat/ loss become a dirty word. If losing is attributed to failure: then the seeds of failure are sown and Fear of failure sets in.

Even the elite athletes are exposed to these feelings of stress [anxiety, self-doubt, nervousness & pressure] before or during a competition. They have been in these situation umpteen times and know how to handle them. The ability to handle Fear and the associated feelings like pressure is what sets apart an elite athlete from the ordinary. Elite athletes want to win and hate losing but they are not afraid of losing.

Fear of failure in sports is not the same as facing life threatening situations [ex: Petra Kvitova, Monica Seles], plane crashes, motor accidents, facing a carnivorous animal in the forest. And to top it all: winning is not for ever and setback is just the bend not the end. The athlete will know at some point of time their chosen career is not forever and there is life beyond it. This mind-set will encourage the athletes in to accepting both success and setbacks [so called failures] in the same breath.

It is true Victory gives pride and achievement motivation. But desperate thoughts like- ‘I must win or I shouldn’t lose or what if I lose, will distress you and you end with the result you never aspired for in the first place. Instead ask yourself- ‘what is the worst thing that can happen if I lose the match. Keep telling yourself before an important event – `this is just like any other game: it is just a ……… match, it is not the end of the world if I lose it.’

If you think losing a match is failure then what would you say of Thomas Alva Edison who said-  ‘I am not a failure I have only discovered 999 ways of how not to make a bulb.’  

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at



Momentum is crucial for peak performance

Srikanth KidambiKidambi Srikanth’s superb run continued as the in-form Indian sailed in to the finals of the Australian Open Series Badminton tournament 2017’– this is how the media described *Srikanth’s performance on 25/06/17. This mysterious thing called, Form, which is controllable- is like the higher grace and you don’t know when it strikes you or leaves you. But, you are happy you are in form and would like to use the opportunity when the sun is shining. Rohit Sharma, Indian cricketer, tweeted yesterday- `Opportunities are like sunrise- if you wait too long you will miss them.’ Un Quote. To remind you K.Srikanth recently won the *Indonesian Super Series Open.

But, one thing I can vouch for you is that when in-form you have the momentum going in your favour. or: Is the vice versa true? What is this thing called momentum that you often hear about. The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science describes Momentum as- ` the positive or negative changes in cognition, physiology and behaviour caused by an event or series of events that affects either the perception of the competitors or quality of performance and the outcome of the competition.

Positive momentum is associated with experiences such as- winning streak-, in which everything goes right for the competitor/s. In contrast Negative Momentum is associated with periods of losing streak – when everything goes awry. It is simply the strength or force gained by motion or series of events [Merriam Webster dictionary]. In psychological terms we call it- Psychological momentum.

You normally hear people say– I found it difficult in the beginning but once I made the start I found the Momentum and everything started flowing.’ Or: `Somehow, I didn’t find the momentum today. Today was one of my OFF days.’ It is often described as gaining/ losing momentum during the course of a match or an on-going season.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore, a team that takes part in the IPL T-20 cricket format every year somehow never gained momentum this 2017 season and slumped to the bottom of the table. Momentum can always be revived: like the Pakistan cricket team did to reverse its fortunes to win the ICC Champions trophy 2017. The Pak side lost miserably to India in the first match but later found the self-efficacy [A belief in the ability to perform the task successfully] and the momentum going in their favour. This is what happens to sides when they find their bearings right and are playing as a unit and are executing their plans well – they find this mysterious [momentum] force gaining from strength to strength and they are unstoppable. But, the opposite is also true- like what happened to the RCB.  When you are at the best of your momentum it is a state akin to the Flow or the Zone- when everything seems to be happening for you. The associated feelings are – sense of control, confidence, optimism, motivation, focus& energy.

It has happened in the past that in the course of a match-for some reason you start making errors lose points and games. Then you over analyse to rectify these mistakes and end up making more- you are at a loss for confidence, focus, optimism and hope. The result- You lose momentum and finally- you lose.

How to get your rhythm and momentum back during the course of a match?

Using the following techniques can help you bounce back to your momentum:                                       

  • Positive attitude and positive body language.
  • Relaxation techniques like slow and deep breathing
  • Present moment awareness 
  • Reduce outcome thinking
  • Break the rhythm of the opponent
  • Slow down your game
  • Believe in your strength
  • Change tactics
  • Keep hope& optimism alive
  • Hang on.


  1. Live science- The reality of momentum in sports- Dan Peterson 6-10-08
  2. Flow- Czsikszentmihalyi.M [1990].
  3. Jeff Greenwald article- ` Riding the wave of momentum.


M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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Happiness is the secret of champions

Anirban LahiriAt the end of a magnificent final round, Anirban Lahiri finished with a career best tied second at The Players Golf tournament at Murfield village, Dublin USA recently. Speaking to reporters later, he made a few important remarks that highlight’s a remarkable change in his approach- that which could impact his future, positively. He said` I am really happy the way I played out there. I haven’t played well in the last couple of months. I’ve been pretty harsh on myself. I’ve beat myself up pretty bad. Coming to this week I decided to be nice to myself go out there and enjoy my golf which I felt wasn’t happening as often as it should. So I just went out and had fun. When you push yourself harder it works against you and I wasn’t in a good frame of mind: I think that’s what changed this week.’  [Agencies TOI].

In this highly stressful and competitive world of sport, athletes set mighty goals for themselves, sometimes- attainable and sometimes lofty and unrealistic. All is well as long as success [victories] keep coming their way but when it is in the contrary- they feel frustrated, sad, depressed and harsh on them [like Anirban did]. Though everyone competes to win, some of the athletes have this strong affinity to say- only a victory [success] makes me happy.’

When you hit a purple patch- the taste of success is sweet but, when you hit a lean patch you are in all sorts of trouble- you are a victim of your own negative feelings and emotions.

Performers of all kind are governed by moods and emotions depending on how they perceive the situation. Moods are those that change constantly but can linger for a longer period of time. Generally the moods and feelings of the athlete prior to the contest indicate the likelihood of success. Proper activation and positive feelings associated by: Alertness, adequate excitation, elation& happiness, calmness & relaxation are generally known to enhance performance.  Whereas deactivation and negative feelings like fatigue, lethargy, depression, sadness, stress, nervousness, muscle tension are known to debilitate performance.[ The Circumplex model of affect – Russell 1980( do:10.1037/ hoo7714].

When Anirban Lahiri decided to go out there to have fun and enjoy his game he would have carried with him positive moods [happiness thro’ fun & enjoyment] and feelings- which definitely could have assisted his performance. Anirban is also a known practitioner of Transcendental meditation- that which promotes mood and relaxation. And golf is a game of the smooth and easy as against tension and perfection. The smoother the better.

Many elite athletes have made the moods and feelings like happiness – their own recipe for success and they know that success comes with happiness and not the other way round. They have learnt to take defeats & victories, setbacks& progress in the same breath and not let their shortfalls come in their way of happiness [fun and enjoyment].

Aries Merritt is 110 m hurdler from USA is a gold medal winner in the London Olympic games 2012 and is also a world record holder for the same category @ 12.80 seconds. In the year 2013, tragedy struck and he was diagnosed with a congenital kidney disease – focal segmental glomerulo sclerosis. He needed a kidney transplant. Four days prior to his kidney transplant at the World IAAF championships in Beijing China, he won a bronze medal. After his surgery and recovery he returned to win the Diamond league IAAF 110 m hurdle event. Despite all his tragedy and struggle he has remained happy and cheerful. The video below shows the happier side of Aries Merritt.

`Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful– Albert Schweitzer.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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Novak Djokovic is accused of tanking

Image from IBT, Australia

The shocking quarter final defeat of Novak Djokovic at the hands of Dominic Thiem of Austria @ The French Open has left the Tennis world in total disbelief. Novak lost 7-6[5] 6-3 6-0. What has baffled everyone is the way in which Novak succumbed meekly to the less fancied Thiem in the last set that lasted just 20 minutes. And now Novak Djokovic has been accused of tanking away the third set to Thiem.  Would you believe it?

The word tank [container] cannot be a Simile with anything associated with sport but tanking as an act is not uncommon in sports. Many teams and individuals have been accused previously for this un-sportive gesture of tanking away a game.

Tanking [courtesy: Sports pundit] is a term used to describe a match lost by a player on purpose. It exposes the deliberate act of colluding, favouring or assisting the opponent in a partisan way.

A team can lose intentionally to another team by not fielding its best players who were available for the contest. It can also mean that a whole team or some of its players can play poorly or collude with the opposition in other ways to see that the opposite team is benefited. In this case it is called match fixing– a scandalous way of surrendering the ethics in favour of money.

It can also be as a result as a part of boredom [staleness] or anger-[for various reasons- injustice, ill- luck, favouritism, racism etc] – when a player deliberately throws in the towel without a whimper.

What could have happened in Novak’s case?

Novak, who has grown in difficult times in a war torn Serbia has seen all the challenges life can throw at you – that has made him humble as anyone can be. He is also known to be a polite, simple and down-to- earth individual. The video below talks of his humility on court – even if it were to be for a ball boy.

Novak who has risen to the highest echelons of this gruelling unforgiving tennis world wouldn’t fetter away from all that he built- out of sweat, blood and tears- for nothing. For sure he is not the candidate for Tanking, look somewhere. But, this match will throw suspicions at you- that’s for sure.

Then what was the reason?

According to Jim Courier a former French open champion- ` Novak showed no fight and may be it was partly down to the windy conditions. Novak despises playing in the wind. He really seemed to accept the outcome well before it was conclusive.’ [AGENCIES, TOI 08/06/17]. Could that be the reason- probably? Let’s give the expert his due.

Whatever you are seeing is just the tip of the ice berg

All said – we cannot simply pooh-pooh the idea that something greater is bothering this great player. People say he is going through a lot mentally and there is nothing wrong with him physically. For whatever reason, he has changed his coach and is already in to rough weather with his newly appointed on-trial-basis coach Andre Agassi. It could be even with his personal life. The truth should lie somewhere in the closet of Novak’s mind- you never know.

But, all this taking a toll on Novak’s game – a once Federer tamer is now losing to lesser known’s. FATE is known to play cruel games with everyone without discrimination. Huh! Novak of all people is now accused of tanking.

But, for his diehard fan- he is still too good to be lost and is eager to see him back with his winning ways.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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Self- talk improves sports performance

Serena Williams

When I finished reading the article ` Talking to yourself isn’t weird, it helps you to perform better, that appeared in Times trends [TOI] by Rhian Lubin on 06/05/17 – my thoughts went back to my own playing days: As a batsman I had this tendency of misjudging the ball and got out playing wrong shots. To correct this, I used to tell myself before every ball- ` watch the ball – play to the merit of the ball. When this became a habit, I became more judicious and thereafter- more successful.

Human beings, with very little exception, have this habit of talking to themselves. Earlier, when we noticed a person on the street speaking to the self: we used to call him `insane. Within sanity: talking to oneself now, is regarded by science as smart’ and even beneficial. Psychologists have come out saying that talking to oneself is a form of intelligence. Smart people are known to do a lot of self-talking: it is reported even Albert Einstein did it.

There is a two way communications happening all the time inside: between our good self and that little fella inside our head. It can happen in two ways: talking to that voice silently or talking out loud. And this inner dialog is called- SELF TALK. You may have noticed when a Tennis match is in progress the player indulges in a lot of self-talk: if it is a singles match the player is not allowed to talk to anyone, even his coach [except himself- hee, hee]. Players abuse themselves loudly – `you fool how could you miss such an easy forehand, you are a loser, you stink, you are a choker, you are useless, I am no good etc or the players can swear under the breath silently. When a player gets angry, anxious, nervous and afraid, the negative thoughts that follows leads to physiological changes in the body-that can be detrimental to performance. When thoughts are positive they enhance performance but when they are contrary they cause negative emotions to debilitate performance.

 What we say constantly to our inner voice, whether it is complimentary or contradictory – it is accepted sincerely by our sub-conscious mind and that is what we become over longer periods of time. So, we have to be very careful with our self-talk.

Shad Helmstetter, PHD writes in his book what to say when you talk to yourself– ` You will become what you think about most, your success or failure in anything large or small will depend on your programming, that is – what you say to yourself and what you hear from others.’

When faced by pressure of competition self- statements made out of desperation like- `I must win this match, I mustn’t lose to this player, I have to win otherwise what will people say- adds more pressure and anxiety to the situation that sends the performance in to a down spiral. Negative self-talk, like- ` I don’t want to choke or `I am not mentally weak or `I am not a loser or `I don’t want to lose to that player- will be accepted literally by the sub-conscious and the results will be in accordance with it. Instead these statements should be converted in to positive statements like- I want to be relaxed and confident or I am mentally strong or I am a winner or I can win against this player.

Self – talk can also be in the form of Cue words like- strong, easy, focus, calm, relax, fight, I can etc- urging the mind-body to follow a certain pattern in that instant.

Positive Self- talk can also be used in the form of affirmations like- ‘I am a winner’ or ‘I am proud of myself and my abilities’ or ‘I play well under pressure’, ‘I love myself’ or ‘I am always confident’.

The everyday motivational self-talk must be. – EVERYDAY IN EVERYWAY,  I AM GETTING BETTER AND BETTER.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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IPL: Where the fearless dare

Nitish Rana, Mumbai Indian (IPL 2017)

A team does well whenever its members perform well. That is why a Team is referred to as a group of people [individuals] who interact with each other to accomplish shared objectives [Carron& Hausenblaus 1998]. Whenever individuals jell together there is cohesion [togetherness] and good team spirit follows: this reflects on the team’s performance. But it is often the case that one or more individual performances are highlighted in the team’s victory- leaving you with a feeling that these performances were solely responsible for the wins. You are helplessly forced to accept this fact.

The IPL– Indian premier league [cricket] is one such tournament that has produced sterling individual performances since its inception a decade ago. Over the years the IPL has witnessed consistent performances from the likes of M.S Dhoni, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Gautham Gambhir, Ab De Villiers, David Warner, Shikar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, R.Uthappa, B McCullam, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dwyne Bravo, R Ashwin, Malinga, Bumrah, K.Pollard, Rohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma and a few others.

But, this edition of IPL has showcased brilliant stand out performances from others – the unsung and the unfamiliar, I can easily recall the names of Sanju Sampson, Shreyas Iyer, Rishab Pant, Hashim Amla, Chris Lynn, Sunil Naraine, The Pandyas- Hardik & Krunal, Manoj Tiwary, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Ben Stokes, Andrew Tye, Nathan Coulter Nile, Umesh Yadav, Jayadev Unadkat, Rashid Khan, Karn Sharma, Dan Christian, Imran Tahir and Mitchell McClenaghan. Most of these players didn’t come up with a big reputation, but with this IPL they threw their weight around and delivered when it mattered. To hear from Stephen Fleming the chief coach of the Pune Rising Pune Super Giant- ‘We are not a skilled side in the IPL, but we have had some players stand up from nowhere. We take pride in that.’ 

In a T-20 game, it requires, apart from skill and execution, some special qualities to stand up and deliver when the odds are stacked against you. When you are a batsman you need to go for big shots even when the required run rate is going up, use common sense, be selective with your shots and defend your wicket in the process. As a bowler you need to vary your- pace, line and length all the time. At times you end up bowling juicy full tosses trying some toe breaking Yorkers and are taken to the cleaners. But, Yorkers are effective in the death overs and you have no other option but to try them. Though, there are champion bowlers who shine against challenges, when it is a hard life for the others out there in a batsman’s world.

Whether it is a bowler or a batsman- these are exceptional players who take the courage to come out of the comfort zone and the risks while others don’t. Winners are those who simply do things what others won’t.

These are set of players who are known for their bravery, courage, daring and fearlessness. They are confident enough to take the risks without being fearful of the negative consequences. A person normally doesn’t step out of his comfort zone because he is afraid to take chances-fearing failure. Bravery is overcoming fear. For, Bravery never goes out of fashion. Bravery is the Buzz word for success in IPL.  IPL is for the brave and not the weak hearted. May this tribe of the fearless thrive to provide unlimited entertainment to all its fans.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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RCB needs Psychological Reconditioning

RCB Disappointment in IPLGame after game I watch with disbelief, RCB lose its matches in the present edition of the IPL – that has pushed the side to the last spot. I wonder – ` Is there an end to this royal team’ misery?  

RCB on paper always looked like winning the IPL title hands down- but that was not to be- it has never won the cup. The closest they have come was the 3 finals they made in 2009, 2011, & 2016.

Why have the RCB not able to live up to their reputation? Let’s analyse:

  • Batting has always been RCB’s strength with stalwarts like Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle & AB De Villiers in its wings. The latest addition being Shane Watson. RCB’s fortunes have always been dependant on the success of this quartet and whenever one or two of them clicked RCB has done well. This makes the team top heavy without the wanted balance in its batting composition.


  • The RCB selection committee has invested a large chunk of their budget on the likes of Gayle, Kohli et al and with the remaining meagre budget available they compromise and end up buying mediocre players [especially bowlers]. So the fine balance is lost.RCB Images 2
  • Bowling has never been RCB’s forte – time and again they have failed to restrict the onslaught of the opposition batsman and at times when they were given respectable totals they have not been able to defend it.


  • Players have been known to perform well after they were bought from RCB – and why they didn’t perform well with their earlier franchisee [especially the bowlers] is one question that the chief mentor and the bowling coach should answer.


  • The aura of some of the players in the RCB ranks is so great that it over shadow’s the performances of other players making it difficult to bask in their own glory. It is the duty of the support staff to make them more comfortable.

There is a dire need for a sports psychologist in the RCB team for these simple reasons:

1.This IPL X season the famous quartet of Kohli, Gayle, AB De and Shane Watson has not delivered. Injuries or otherwise they have been dubbed to be out of form. Remember it can happen to the best in this world and they are all humans. A psychologist in its ranks would have lent them the psychological support to tide over the situation.

2. The team’s think tank on many occasions has admitted that- they have worked very hard in the nets and tried everything. Trying too hard, over thinking and analysing will only lead to – paralysis by analysis. The resultant effect is pressure, stress and decrement in performance. The presence of a sports psychologist would have helped

3. Most teams of the IPL comprise of senior and junior players. Often the junior players are left cooling their heels not sure whether they will have a role to play. The team management has to take them in to their confidence and prepare them mentally to contribute big time when the situation arose. They need to be assured that their contribution is important to the success of the team. Paddy Upton, Rahul Dravid, Shane Warne, and Shane Watson did it successfully with the Rajasthan Royals. The well-known sports psychologist Dr Rudi Webster did it for the KKR in 2012. Who will forget the cameo effort of Manvinder Bisla against the CSk that helped win the tournament?

4. The support staffs of the RCB headed by chief mentor Daniel Vettori does not seem effective enough to fill this role. A sports psychologist in the ranks of the RCB would have done wonders to its fortunes.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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Setting goals motivate sportsperson to stay the course longer


Elite swimmers Michael Phelps [USA], Ian Thorpe [Aus.] and Anthony Ervin [USA] all made their Olympic debut at the Sydney Olympics 2000. Ever since Michael Phelps who has participated in the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics: winning a total of 28 medals with 23 of them are GOLD:  is the most decorated Olympian of all times. Ian Thorpe also took part in the 2004 Athens Olympics since Sydney 2000 and has 5 Olympic gold medals to his credit. Whereas, Anthony Ervin after winning his first Gold medal at the Sydney Olympics 2000, surprised everyone by announcing his retirement, at the age of 22. But, by staging a comeback and winning an Olympic Gold after 16 years ever since he first won gold medal [2000 summer Olympics]: at the age of 35 years – Ervin has scripted the greatest comeback in the history of sports.

To find out what happened in the in-between years of Ervin’s life watch the video below:-

When you look at the dramatic happenings post the first gold medal win [Sydney Olympics] it becomes clear that his goal setting and his motivation factor did not support a long celebrated career that a Michael Phelps or a Roger Federer enjoys. Ervin Anthony has admitted that his dream was to win an Olympic gold medal- once that was achieved he stopped enjoying the competition and felt jaded. He lost the sense of purpose and meaning in life and chose to retire. This was a clear case of a lack of a long term goal and an intrinsic motivation to be the best- that would have helped him to sustain his motivation to continue for a longer period of time.

Ervin rediscovers the magic

It was after he was invited to New York to teach kids swimming he rediscovered his love for water. The joy on the faces of the children sparked a new found motivation in Ervin. He felt that the fire left in him was still burning. He took to the pool and worked hard. Soon, he became a member of the US Olympic squad to the London Olympics 2012[finished fifth]. He has expressed that it was during this period he felt unfinished and wanted to do more- through effort he continued to grow and improve [Intrinsic motivation]. At 35, 4 years later at RIO [2016 Olympic Games] he won the gold again.

Message for the aspiring youngsters 

When you look at Michael Phelps [5 Olympic Games- 28 Gold medals] and Roger Federer, two of the greatest athletes in the modern era- you are astonished by their longevity. What keeps them going is the burning desire to be the best in business and wanting to get better and better all the time. This is what intrinsic motivation is all about. It is the intrinsic motivation that prompted Ervin’s return to water. And how well he proved he could be the best at 35. Federer talks of wanting to improve & become better in this video:- improving/   

So, guys set your goals in line with your most cherished dream and vision. Your goals must be to follow the intrinsic path and the external motivations [rewards, name-fame, money, material comforts, titles, honours etc] will take care of themselves. Don’t restrict your goal to one big achievement as Ervin did. Take steps to sustain your motivation that can stretch your goals towards a long celebrated career.


BIO feedback the way forward to better performance

Biofeedback - M N Viswanath

India had never won a gold medal in the individual event of the summer Olympics since its inception, until Abhinav Bindra did on the 11 August by winning the 10M Air rifle event of the Beijing Olympics 2008. He also has the honour of being India’s first gold medallist of a world shooting championship.

Indeed the Olympic gold did not fall in to his lap one day from above nor was it bought like the way a publisher in Delhi crudely suggested: Abhinav had to work hard for it in every way and he left no stone unturned in its pursuit. He tried everything- hiring foreign trainers and coaches, running on the Alps in bitter cold, climbing a 40 feet pizza pole, walking on a swaying bridge and climbing walls-to conquer fear, dry firing in dark room, the Samadhi tank, training at the US Olympic training centre and training with the bio-neuro feedback equipment to obtain psychophysiology recordings. Abhinav tried his hand on the neuro [bio] feedback equipment with the help of Tim Harkness, a sports psychologist from South Africa-before the Beijing Olympics. Abhinav Bindra agrees that neuro-feedback is a fantastic tool with a powerful effect on performance. The last mentioned is of curious importance to me- as a sports psychology coach and as a proud owner & practitioner of bio feedback technology. Let me explain on what is Bio-feedback, its applications & uses.

Bio-feedback [of which neuro-feedback is a part]   is a computer based technology by which it is possible to know what is happening with in our body and brain as we think, feel and perform. The BFB & NFB recordings are utilized for:

  1. In controlling anxiety [stress management].
  2. Reduce or induce energy& intensity.
  3. In improving attention.
  4. To facilitate injury rehabilitation.
  5. To improve performance consistency. [Athletics, music, dance etc].
  6. To improve overall conscious brain functioning.
  7. To treat repetitive strain injury- i.e. posture defects like low back pain.

The body and mind react in different ways during training and competition as well as during poor performance and successful performance. A teacher, coach or trainer will not be able to identify through the naked eye, these subtle differences across situations. So, a competitive situation is simulated in the lab settings and the performer [athlete, dancer, musician, singer, student, patient, computer professional etc] is trained to read the body’s feedback through the feedback mechanism[ NFB, BFB] – sweaty palms, shallow breathing, muscle tension, changes in heart beats and brain wave patterns are sure indicators of stress. The client is taught to bring these readings to control as required and then trained to take on the field in competition without the aid of the feedback machine and to perform in an Ideal performance state [IPS].  The modalities of biofeedback commonly used are- sEMG – to measure muscle tension. EDA/GSR- to measure arousal- indicated by sweat & perspiration in the hands. HRA- to measure variation of heart rate. Thermal feedback to measure- skin temperature. Respiration- to measure rate of breathing. EEG- to measure brain waves and study brain functioning.

The most successful application of Feedback technology is the `PEAK PERFORMANCE’ related to sports and performing arts. This technology is widely used in the west to train Olympic athletes of both summer and winter Olympic Games. It is extensively used to train the archers, shooters and golfers Generally BFB& NFB can be applied to any sport or any performance as such.

A mind room using the BFB & NFB technology was created for the 2006 Soccer World cup winning Italian team. The Chelsea football club also has a mind room with feedback technology- created for its players.

A paper published recently shows the positive results of NFB to reduce symptoms of Anxiety and depression.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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Brain fade’ a veiled threat to all performers

Brain Fade - Steve Smith

The recently concluded India-Australia test match at Bengaluru in the first week of March 2017 was a scintillating cricket match, but mired in controversy.

Steve Smith, unhappy with the LBW ruling that went against him, looked toward the dressing room seeking to get some help on whether to go for a review or not.

This incident turned the match on its head for other reasons. The Aussie captain was accused of cheating, as it was against the rules to look for counsel. Later, at a press meet, he admitted his guilt and said he was under a moment of brain fade.

After Virat Kohli got out LBW, by not offering a shot – through misjudgment of the line and length of the ball, Mark Waugh said this was happening to Kohli because of brain fade.

The new coinage, brain fade, seems to have gained currency after the match.

‘Trevor your underarm stinks’.

Let me take you down memory lane to the year 1981. On February 1st, Australia were playing New Zealand in a one day Benson and Hedges World series match at the MCG.

Here is a glimpse of the video.

The chase came down to the last over and last ball with New Zealand requiring seven runs to win with Brian McKechnie at the crease.  The Aussie captain Greg Chappell instructed his bowler Trevor Chappell [his younger brother] to bowl underarm, which the bowler promptly did, preventing the Kiwis from scoring six runs that would have turned the match into a tie.

The Aussies won the day but drew a lot of flak for not playing within the spirit of the game. Though at that time bowling underarm was a legal delivery [later abolished by the ICC], it was unfair and contrary to the tradition the game is known for.

The reason Greg Chappell attributed to his infamous decision was that – he was too exhausted, frustrated, stressed and under pressure.

Brain fade??   What is that!!!?

The lexicons describe it as a temporary state of inability to concentrate or think clearly or simply get confused and make a poor decision.

Psychologically speaking, I wouldn’t compare it with the more severe condition known as choking, brain freeze, falling apart under pressure or mental meltdown, where the brain goes blank completely and the person seems lost – unable to know what is happening. However, in both the instances the primary reason for the effect is- Pressure.

The cerebral cortex in the brain is the place where decisions are made, which is why it is referred to as the thinker of the brain. It is the seat of intelligence, imagination, analysis, planning and judgment. In short- it is the seat of mental activity.

When everything seems to be normal, the cerebral cortex will take the correct decision by analyzing and judging the situation based on past experiences, perception and knowledge.

But when we are under intense pressure and are threatened, the usual process is bypassed and an important part in the brain – the amygdala springs into action by initializing the fight or fight response.

It is like an emergency alarm going off, triggering an SOS or distress call for help. It will see that the primary objective of the human being is taken care of – that is to oversee the threat. That is why some of the reactions can happen without even thinking. The primary emotion below this is fear – the fear of loss.

Emotion has a thinking mind of its own and sometimes when threatened can act independently of the cognitive thinking mind, seemingly illogical.

That Smith and Greg Chappell were under pressure is true

Pressure is what could have forced Greg Chappell to make an instinctive decision to instruct his brother to bowl underarm to save the threat of loss [defeat].

He later admitted he was frustrated, exhausted, pressurized- the whole thing can be called as Distress or simply, stress.

In the Bengaluru test, Steve Smith’s presence at the wicket was crucial to lead Australia to victory and avert defeat. When he was adjudged LBW, he might have gone into a brain fade sensing defeat and reacted without thinking.

Emotional intelligence is the key to handle such pressure related situations.

( M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click at