Author: viswanathauthor

EMOTIONAL CONTROL IS THE KEY TO COMPETITIVE SURVIVAL

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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:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ridm5B5W0OA

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.

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True Value Is Hard Work, Talent Is Only A Bonus 

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When you see teams and individuals compete and excel at the highest level comparisons are bound to happen. Sports, through its history has been a witness to high ranking global rivalries and today’s  rivalry between Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is perhaps the biggest of them all.

The entire Global soccer fan club is engaged in this unending debate surrounding the two greats of modern football- MESSI OR RONALDO- Who is the best?

It is must be the hardest question for a sports buff to answer. Both of them have proved that they are the best in modern football. Both have scored more than 500 career goals: both have won the FIFA BALLON D’ OR award multiple times- Messi 5 times to Ronaldo’s 4.

They represent the best and the richest clubs in the world- Messi plays for Argentina &FC Barcelona and Ronaldo plays for Portugal & Real Madrid. They are one of the richest sportsmen/ women in the world. Both have huge fan clubs all over the world. When the same question was asked to some experts in the field – they too agreed to the complexity of the question. Though they are of the unanimous opinion about the greatness- the final verdict went in favour of Messi. This can be seen from the-

Video here 

The ardent followers of soccer feel Messi is more natural, talented, and skilled and he was born to play soccer. Some say he is technically more gifted. What defines natural talent in him is the attractiveness, the ease of movement and the elegance in his play- something we commonly call as GRACE.

Where it is difficult to define talent the experts see it through their eyes. In contrast Ronaldo is rated as a complete footballer as he is proficient with his foot, body or head. Many say, to be where he is now he has worked hard, been persistent, sacrificed, persevered and above all has had the desire to be the best.

This argument cannot take away the Hard Work factor from Messi’s greatness – without which it is difficult to achieve anything big. This observation has been supported by Analyst and Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle who said- If you marry a phenomenal work ethic to the talent you are born with then you can achieve almost anything.

When Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli made an unbroken partnership of 664 runs for Sharadhashram Vidyamandir in the year 1988, a world record was created [recently been broken]. The pair created havoc on the opposition and promised of many great deeds to follow. Sachin younger of the two made his Test match debut in the year 1989 and the one day international’s debut also in the same year. The rest was history: he went on to play 24 long years for India and his exploits are well known.

His Sharadhashram school friend debuted for India in one dayer’s in 1993 & tests in 1993. While Sachin made steady progress in his initial days of his International career his buddy Kambli created a sensation from the word-GO. He was the fastest to score 1000 test runs for India. He was the only one to score back to back Double hundred’s and followed it up with another hundred.

Such was his class: the pundits compared his game to that of Roy Fredricks & Brian Lara. He made his last test appearance for India in 1995 & last one-day appearance in 2000. His career was marred with controversies and he was to make an unceremonious exit from the Indian test team. He represented India in 17 tests made 1084 runs with 4 centuries 104 One day Intl’s scoring 2477 runs making 2 hundred’s.

What happened to Vinod Kambli? Why did he not enjoy the longevity in the Indian Team like Sachin did? Why did he not live up to his early promise? Was his case a self-made disaster? What did Sachin have that Kambli didn’t? These were the questions that ate in to everyone’s mind then and even now perhaps. Many rued at the sheer waste of TALENT in case of Vinod Kambli. Experts said he was more talented than Sachin but didn’t stay long to do justice to it.

We have already examined the case of Messi vs. Ronaldo: though Ronaldo didn’t possess the so-called born Talent, he developed greatness through his dedication, discipline, commitment, hard work and sacrifice. A self-made prowess that was so good enough to be called as world’s best. Can you ask for more?

The same may have been the case with Sachin, though none can say he didn’t possess initial talent: he didn’t depend on it. He made HARD WORK Dedication and commitment as his mantras for his phenomenal success. Why did Kambli who like Messi was born talented, but did not realise the inherent potential?

This was more to do with his lack of commitment, lack of unbending work ethic and hard work. He was known to be a happy- go- lucky who had a penchant for the good things in life. He led a flamboyant life style, married twice and at some point in his life dabbled at politics, movies and small screen TV shows. Sachin admitted that – they both had different nature, and reacted to situations differently.

From this study we can draw a conclusion that talent if present is a BONUS: but you cannot depend on it entirely. Whether you are blessed with TALENT or without it, you can make greatness your own through HARD WORK, DEDICATION, COMMITMENT & DISCIPLINE.

Read more on HARD WORK & TALENT from my book- SUCCESS MANTRA IN SPORTS- key concepts to peak performance. Available online through: AMAZON- amzn.to/2tGze77.

Enjoy the activity, have fun, perform better.

messi-argentina-

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 viswanath.author@gmail.com.

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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