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Though the west had a head start in the field, India is catching up. Many home grown experts are contributing to that endeavour in good measure.
One such professional is M.N. Viswanath, who is a sports psychologist, counsellor and mental trainer. He has trained several sportspersons and has created eBooks on the subject besides conducting webinar and online courses apart from penning a successful book called 'Success mantra in Sports'.
Explaining the concept of sports psychology, Viswanath says psychology is the study of mind and in any sphere, the role of the mind is very crucial and sports is no exception. The proper use of mind power along with right skills ensures success in any competition and a Sports psychologist can help an individual player to achieve maximum potential.
The field is relatively new in India though it has been in vogue in the West for over 120 years.
Who needs a sports psychologist? Almost any one striving for success and optimum performance in their chosen sport. "It can be a sportsperson, coach or a team. Not all players have the same mental strength and even the best often are beset with self-doubt. Same with coaches who fail to deliver the desired results and in dire need to develop new strategies. They need our help. In fact I would recommend it for youngsters who are struggling to make progress in the sport despite possessing basic skills." says Viswanath.
"Once a player comes under the wings of a sports psychologist the latter uses various tools to spur them on the right track. Many tools like mind training through imagery and visualisation, striking emotional balance, improving self-confidence and motivation. In addition, techniques for physical and mental relaxation are also taught to them. Such training helps them to sharpen their focus and set their goals" explains Viswanath.
Training an individual and a team has its own challenges says the Mind Trainer "Sports like archery, billiards, golf etc. are highly individual in nature and need total concentration, focus and calm and cool mind to achieve perfect shot or putt. In team games like football, hockey or cricket, cohesion and motivation are important. A team is a group of individuals and each one needs to give his best when called to do the job like in a penalty shootout. No individual player can afford to be selfish in a team and the overall success of the team is paramount. Our role is to enable them to achieve that winning combination" says Viswanath.
Five years ago, he authored the book 'Success Mantra in Sports' which was widely acclaimed. "I wrote the book after completing my degree in psychology and after writing several articles. I found most of the books that were available then, were academic in nature. So I wrote it as a practical guide to all in the Sports field. It was illustrated with stories and anecdotes besides providing practical tips and I am glad that it was well received and it is still available online " says the author.
On the outlook for the future of sports psychology, Viswanath is quite optimistic. "The research in the subject has gone ahead of practice and implementation. That gap needs to be bridged .Sports psychologists also need to create more awareness about the subject. Given the big growth of sports in our country, there is a demand for our services and many universities now have specialised courses in Sports psychology and indeed the future looks bright" concludes Viswanath.