Sports psychologists in high demand in IPL

Sports psychologists play a big role in helping many players perform at their optimum. No wonder, they are in high demand in the IPL, a high-pressure event, writes The Times Of India.

Rudi Webster, the famous sports psychologist from West Indies who has joined the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) this year, says, “It's only in recent years that mental conditioning and the science of sports psychology have become a public part of sport. The fact is they have been used privately, and in an unstructured way, for more than a thousand years now.” According to the KKR mental skills coach, performance in sport is built on four interconnected pillars: physical fitness, physical skills, tactics and strategies and mental skills.

Mike Horn, South African explorer and extreme adventurer, who is a motivational speaker with the Mumbai Indians, also highlighted the need to unload players’ stress.  “In T20 you have limited time to adapt yourself to a situation. You are sometimes involved emotionally, sometimes you are scared of failure. You don’t know how you are going to play the next ball… Mental preparation, here, is the key to face any situation,” Horn said to TOI.

Meanwhile Hindustan Times writes that the IPL may have given many local cricketers the means to further their cricketing dreams, it's also helped the rich become richer. Rohit Sharma has a lot going for him -he's young, he's talented and he's played for India. The IPL helped him swell up his bank account and buy a posh apartment in Bandra after a $2m deal with the Mumbai Indians, in addition to reminding selectors that he's the future. “Before last season, I was hurt at missing out on the World Cup and trained with more determination,“ he said. Sharma used the IPL as a platform to re-launch his career and was in the team that toured the Caribbean.

In a column in Indian Express, Harsha Bhogle writes that the first week of April sees the start of IPL5 and it is a very important year for the IPL for viewership and attendance figures will give us an idea of whether it is still the hot property it was in years 1 to 3. The reason for the little suspicion is that IPL 4, by its own standards alone, was a slight disappointment, he adds.

“But it was also a peculiar year because India had just won the World Cup, a deeply emotional event and the IPL began even before the shadows had lengthened. Not only was there a lot of cricket on television but people had already spent fair sums of money on going to a cricket ground. But there was another factor too. IPL 5 will also test the strength of the disillusionment of the Indian fan over recent performances by the national team. History suggests that such disillusionment tends to be short-lived, that the search for a good meal is rarely hampered by the experience of a bad one. There is also the usual debate in some quarters of playing for money over playing for the country,” writes Bhogle.

According to a report in TOI, four seasons of Indian Premier League, Kings XI Punjab have only flattered to deceive. “They have shown flashes of individual brilliance too, highlighted by Paul Valthaty last year. But mostly, they have veered from hope to hopelessness: shine brightly for a moment and then slip back to a pale showdown.  Will that change this season? We will have to wait for the next few weeks to unfold to see that. But, it does look like the team is making a serious attempt on all fronts to get rid of past baggage and bring about a change. To begin with, Adam Gilchrist will take on the role of coach, besides being the captain too. He wants to mentor the team and that is only a good sign. The real excitement, though, seems to stem from the acquisition of Azhar Mahmood ($200,000). The other two signees, Ramesh Powar ($160,000) and James Faulkner ($190,000), too are expected to bring some much-needed vigour to the team,” adds TOI.

TOI further writes that for Rajasthan Royals, the most important story of IPL V could well be the transition from Warne’s leadership to Dravid’s captaincy. “In fact, for a few youngsters who have known only Warne’s ways in the past four years, this could well be a culture shock. Rajasthan Royals, once again, do not boast of too many big guns, at least in the T20 format. However, they have the habit of throwing up heroes. If Yusuf Pathan, Ravinder Jadeja and Shane Watson owe most of their fame to the Royals jersey in the inaugural edition of the IPL, Johan Botha’s prowess with the bat was a revelation last year. Warne had gone by his instincts in promoting Botha up the order, and it paid off handsomely,” writes TOI, adding that as Dravid steps into the Australian spin legend’s shoes, he would be aware that he is inheriting an enviable legacy.