A strong mind and weak body or a weak mind in a strong body cannot co-exist. The brain and the brawn have a strong interdependence.
In any sporting action though the skill is learned and stored in the brain, it has to be executed by the body, so the body needs to be looked after.
Elite athletes have often said when they were physically well prepared and their bodies felt good, they felt more confident and they were hopeful of a better outcome.
But, there is a limit to the extent one can stretch your body: when you overdo, it breaks down. I remember cricketing icon, Sachin Tendulkar, having a few problems with his body [tennis elbow et al], so did the Golf’s great Tiger Woods as he has suffered injuries to his back and knees. There have been instances of top-class performers breaking down due to injury and later going under the knife.
This is quite common, with the recent addition to this list being Saina Nehwal, Rohit Sharma and Jimmy Anderson. The English cricketer played in 122 test matches, a phenomenal record for any fast bowler in the modern era of non-stop cricket.
One attributable factor by which athletes all over the world in different sports have taken their game to higher levels is through physical fitness. Physical fitness is also the reason why athletes have been able to extend their careers beyond the age of 35.
To be on top of your game and be able to survive the cutting-edge competition of modern day sports, one needs to be physically fit. Athletes these days have been breaking barriers and have crossed boundaries in terms of physical possibilities, thanks to their physical conditioning.
Virat Kohli – Indian cricket captain and star performer is one such shining example. A fitness freak, he maintains an unmatchable work ethic and an ultra disciplined life. He says “ I have worked on my fitness over the years: I feel I can go on for longer periods: I don’t get tired that quickly as I used to before.’’ [Reference: Deccan Herald- 12/Feb/ 17].
Jose Maria Olazabal, a golfer from Spain, who has won 6 PGA tour titles and 23 European titles in his career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. His career was cut short temporarily by a crippling arthritic disease – a condition in which he was not able walk or even comb his hair, let alone wield the club. But, 2017 has seen him come back into the golfing circuit and doing well. [DH 12/2/17].
In pursuit of excellence, one may stretch the limits of their bodies and be vulnerable to physical injuries. This has happened to many athletes in the past – while some have been able to bounce back from injuries, others have not.
The best examples that come to mind are Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee, both great exponents of swing bowling. They said they preferred to stay supple and worked more at their bowling and less at the gym. Jimmy Anderson is another example. Many athletes say the secret is in building more muscles that can help in more stamina, endurance and power. But being over worked and tense can also break very quickly.
This debate goes on and athletes will stretch and abuse their bodies beyond limits in their quest for greatness. This is an inevitable evil in today’s competitive world of sports.
What is the midpath then? What is the right balance? These are intriguing questions in today’s sport.
The answer is to know your body and listen to it. Your body is always trying to tell you something like the gauges on the instrument panel of your car would do.
It is for you to read the signs what your body is trying to tell you. When it comes to human nature we say everybody is different, likewise every body is different from the rest.
Psychologically speaking, uncontrolled stress levels is unhealthy for the body as it causes injuries. So, be mindful of your stress management and stay relaxed. Know your body and love your body!
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