Tag: Sports

Why sportspersons need a sports psychologist early?

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios, Australian Tennis Player -Image from The Sydney Morning Herald

The life of a sports person is a long hard drawn battle with the inner self. Left to itself the inner self is a competent master capable of delivering lethal blows that would pulverize the enemy in to submission, but when doubted, this master would be reduced to a humble slave to its pseudo master. By referring it to as the pseudo master, I am talking about our conscious thinking mind and the all pervading real master-as the inner self, that which has an infinite capacity beyond human imagination. More often the human being is a victim of the idiosyncrasies of the thinking mind: the pseudo master who jeopardizes the maximization of  learned potential.

This is what most performers go through, especially so with sports persons- with all their innate abilities, effort, sacrifice, dedication and discipline, the ultimate result is not in line with their dreams, desires and expectations. There is something wrong! Ideally your best performance can be had when you are not thinking and you let your inner self [the subconscious] to do the rest. But is this possible in this world of intense competition, professional goals and big dreams?

The athlete is a victim of his own thoughts that would lead to poor self belief, lack of concentration, performance anxiety, pressure, stress and muscular tension. And it has mostly to do with the realm of the unknown and events that are yet to unfold- that lurking fear beneath – the fear of loss.

Even otherwise, the sports person has issues not related to his game [family, career, finances, relationships, injuries etc] that would heckle him constantly. The life of a professional athlete is a roller coaster ride, with highs and lows- threatened by uncertainty and anxiety- facing lots of pressure and expectations from outside and within.

It is sometimes too much for the individual to absorb all the pressure, however strong he appears to be. Remember, the greatest test for a person is when he is challenged by adversity and setbacks. This is when he looks around seeking professional help and it is then the sports psychologist steps in to perform the role of a friend, guide, motivator, counselor, therapist and a mind trainer.

Besides lending emotional support to the individual in various ways, the psychologist teaches the athlete techniques for enhancing performance-like assisting him to develop positive mindset, to be in the present, focusing on the process, and allowing things to happen. The athlete is also taught with breathing techniques, emotional regulation, handling pressure, goal setting, visualizing a positive outcome and mental toughness.

Recently British Tennis player Laura Robson announced that she is working with a sports psychologist Richard Hampson to help revive her injury prone career.

http://www.tennisworldusa.org/news/news/UK_Tennis/39743/laura-robson-discloses-she-is-working-with-a-sports-psychologist/

Formula one racing champion Nico Rosberg recently disclosed that he had worked with a sports psychologist before winning his first ever world championship racing title. Rosberg has said hiring a sports psychologist was one of the key factors for him claiming the world championship.

http://www.foxsportsasia.com/news/rosberg-on-life-after-formula-1/

Nick Kyrgios, the rising Tennis star, has been found guilty of uncontrolled emotions and bad temperament on a few occasions and has now agreed to work with a sports psychologist to overcome these behaviors.

For years sports psychologists have worked with teams and individuals ranging from recreational, amateur, professional and Olympic athletes- helping them to enhance their performance and lending them emotional support.

Sports psychology and psychological skills training is an important cog in the performance wheel that deserves its rightful place.

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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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 viswanath.author@gmail.com)

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click at http://www.amazon.in/Success-Mantra-Sports-First-Viswanath/dp/8193194039

Swagger and confidence makes for a winning character

Vivan richards and Virat Kohli

The very sight of Vivian Richards walking up to bat, chewing a gum and swaying his big square chest sent a chill down the spine of  bowlers all over the world.

Dennis Lillee with his trademark head band and drooping moustache was an intimidating sight even for batsman of the caliber of Sunny Gavaskar, Viv Richards or an Ian Botham.

The swagger of the beefy guys like Botham, Mathew Hayden was a sight to behold.

These days I like the swagger of golfer, Dustin Johnson, as he strides from one hole to the next. He has confidence written all over him as he displays a strong sense of self-belief that helped him win two majors last year. You won’t be surprised if his female followers drool over him saying `what a man! The broad chested Chris Gayle falls in this company.

I would like to add to this illustrious list, the names of Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne, Virat Kohli, Kapil Dev, AB de Villiers, Rafa Nadal, Usain Bolt, Tiger Woods, golfer Arnold Palmer, Michael Jordan & Mohamed Ali. And not to forget the queen of tennis, the Iron willed lady- Serena Williams.

What is common between all of them and why would you put them all in one big golden basket of fame? They are all strong characters and possessed some common qualities like:-

  1.  A confident swagger as they move in the sporting arena.
  2. They show off self-confidence with lots and lots of self-belief oozing out.
  3. They look aggressive – but their aggression is positive and not destructive.
  4. They have the killer instinct that seems to say- `I am the best, I will finish you!’
  5. They are not overawed by their opponents; instead they put their opponents under `awe’.
  6. They seem to inspire millions on their own and create a huge fan following wherever they go.

Cricketer Virat Kohli is the heartthrob of millions in India and an Indian Idol, for sure. He symbolizes the youth force in India and is an inspiration to them.

He is such a true character that he has already lead India to many victories and most of his centuries have come after he has taken over India’s captaincy. He has passed the true test of character. Who wouldn’t want to emulate, Viraat-the-samrat.

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Cool down Aussies, let bat and ball talk!

steve_smith_11705303043
Australia captain Steve Smith

Steve Smith the visiting Australian team’s captain has been quoted to have said in today’s newspapers [Deccan Herald – 15/02/17] – “Individuals to decide on verbal warfare”.

“I think each of our individual plays the way they want to play, If they want to get to the battle verbally,if they get the best out of them, then [ I say] go for it.”  It’s about making sure they have the right mindset as individuals to go out and succeed.”

He say’s, paradoxically- “ In the end it’s about us playing on skills and making sure they are in the best place to succeed in these conditions.”

Australian’s cricketers have been known to be aggressive and known to play the game the hard way with no quarter given. They have always been verbally abusive on the field through their in famous sledging tactics. These are mind games meant to break the confidence& concentration of the opposition, especially that of the batsman. The `monkey gate scandal’ and many other incidents reminds us of  sledging and the episodes surrounding it.

The teams visiting down under’ have always borne the brunt of this verbal onslaught. If Cricket is a game of physical skills then why should it be a game of `slang and sledge.’ If you want be mentally stronger and tougher so be it – show it through your execution and performance with out entering in to a verbal duel with your opponents. That is what cricket was known for- a fair game. Through ages it has been a gentleman’s game.

Steve Smith has contradicted his own statement by saying `in the end it will broil down to skills.”

Then why sledge? Cool down Aussie and let your bat and ball do the talking!