Virat Kholi is an icon for India’s Youth

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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.

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CONCENTRATION IS A KEY INGREDIENT TO EVERY SUCCESS

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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.

PRACTICAL IDEAS TO IMPROVE CONCENTRATION

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.

EASTERN METHODS OF CONCENTRATION

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVU0WRwn-Eo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow_-6r8CjjQ

PERFECTION IS FOR THE GODS

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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’. 

                                   

PRESSURE IS A WHIRLPOOL

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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’’