Tag: sports Psychology

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.

References:

  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 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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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 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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Novak Djokovic is accused of tanking

novak-djokovic-2017-french-open
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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdbkxXn7L3s

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 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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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 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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