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Mental conditioning coach should constantly be with the team: Dhoni

In India, I feel there is still a big issue of accepting that there is some weakness when it comes to the mental aspects, but we generally term it as mental illness, says former India skipper Dhoni

MS Dhoni | India cricket team | Glenn Maxwell

BS Web Team & agencies  |  New Delhi 

CSK Skipper MS Dhoni during the practice session of the IPL 2020 at MAC Stadium, in Chennai. Photo: PTI
CSK Skipper MS Dhoni during the practice session at MAC Stadium, in Chennai

Former India skipper feels players in the country still hesitate to accept that they have some weakness when it comes to mental illness and that's why a mental conditioning coach should constantly be with the team.
"In India, I feel there is still a big issue of accepting that there is some weakness when it comes to the mental aspects, but we generally term it as mental illness," Dhoni said while sharing his experiences with top coaches from various sports, including cricket, volleyball, tennis and golf in a session conducted by MFORE.

MFORE is a non-proft initiative launched by former Indian batsman S Badrinath alongwith Saravana Kumar aimed at offering mind conditioning programs to achieve peak performance in sports.

 "Nobody really says that, when I go to bat, the first 5 to 10 deliveries my heart rate is elevated, I feel the pressure, I feel a bit scared because that's how everybody feels - how to cope with that?
"This is a small problem but a lot of times we hesitate to say it to a coach and that's why the relationship between a player and coach is very important be it any sport," he added.

Highlighting the importance of mental conditioning coach, the 38-year-old said: "Mental conditioning coach should not be the one who comes for 15 days, because when you come for 15 days, you are only sharing the experience."
"If the mental conditioning coach is constantly with the player, he can understand what are the areas which are affecting his sport."

In October 2019, Australian cricketer had taken a break owing to mental illness. He was one of the few cricketers who has spoken about mental health publicly.

After retaining his mental fitness, he said being constantly on the road for the past "four to five years" had mentally and physically ruined me, forcing to take a mental health break in October.

Maxwell had opted out of Australia's T20I series against Sri Lanka after playing the first two matches to address his mental health.

"I was pretty cooked when I decided to take the time off. Big reason why I did take that time away is I was pretty mentally and physically ruined." 

Speaking on how players can overcome difficult situations through mind skill training, current India skipper said: "I think mental health and mental clarity is the most important factor in life; not just in sports."
"Badrinath and MFORE helping these cricketers will go a long way in them understanding themselves better and going out there and performing despite the conditions and situations being difficult for them," Kohli said.
Badrinath's former Tamil Nadu teammate, Ravichandran Ashwin also spoke about the MFORE initiative and said: "It's an extraordinary initiative on Badri's behalf. Lot of people address skills, speak about the mental aspect of the game. But no one can really put a roadmap and say what really a cricketer needs mentally.
"How can you disconnect the mind when you're playing? These are things that are crucial for any athlete. Your mind constantly cross-questions you and gives negative vibes from inside which is only natural.
"So, to be able to create a platform for such people to ask for help is an amazing initiative. I urge people to be more honest about themselves and understand that they need help. Understanding and asking for help by itself is very courageous," he added.
MFORE has partnered with Star Sports to launch a series called 'MIND MASTERS by MFORE' on Star Sports 1 Tamil starting this Sunday. The five-episode series will feature top sports personalities interacting with Badrinath on the importance of mind training and mental toughness in sports.

First Published: Thu, May 07 2020. 13:21 IST