MS Dhoni might be celebrated for his calm demeanour in pressure situation on the cricket field but the former India captain does have moments where his heart rate is elevated and he feels scared.
These moments arise especially when Dhoni is in the very early stages, the two-time world cup winning captain said on Thursday.
“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 during a session conducted by MFORE, a Non-Profit Initiative that offers mind conditioning programs to athletes.
He continued, “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.”
The initiative was launched by former India and Chennai Super Kings cricketer Subarmaniam Badrinath.
Current India captain Virat Kohli too stressed on the importance of a healthy mind as the key to better performance. “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,” he was quoted as saying in a media release.
MFORE also aims to conduct workshops for coaches, preparing them to understand the mental side of their players.
India offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin said it’s important for a sportsperson to talk about his mental struggles and seek help iof needed.
“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,” Ashwin said while lauding Badrinath for the initiative.
“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.
Dhoni says a mental conditioning coach should be a regular fixture with a team/player and not just a temporary arrangement.
“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,” he said.