NEW DELHI (AIFF Media): Be it the super athletes across the world or the prodigies who are yet to set their foot in the hardcore professional sports setup, it is the mental aspect of the game that helps players express their potential that has been so carefully maximised by their coaches.
There comes the need of the ‘Brain Doctor,’ who is supposed to aid them in regulating their adrenalin rush and maintaining optimum focused attention and aggressiveness on the field while shrugging off the fatigue and distractions.
All India Football Federation has appointed Dr. Swaroop Savanur as the Mental Conditioning Coach of the Indian U-17 National Team, who are presently preparing for FIFA U-17 World Cup, India 2017 under newly-appointed Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos.
“I’m at a loss of words while thanking the All India Football Federation for providing me with such an opportunity as well as entrusting me with such a huge responsibility. I was happily surprised to know that I am the first ever mental coach working with Indian Football and AIFF ever, and I am happy to bring this important aspect of competition to this beautiful game of football. All of this has been possible only because of the AIFF management, who were so open and more than happy to provide this facet to the players,a�? Dr. Savanur said.
“The attitude of the boys is positive and I don’t mind saying that I am really overwhelmed seeing their approach and their positivity,a�? he added. a�?They are keen to learn newer things and foremost, they are very positive about their prospect. They’re well aware that they’re going to represent not only their team but a Country of 1.3 billion.a�?
a�?Any sport, let alone football, is played mentally. The more mentally tougher one is, the more the chance to outplay the opponents. But the irony of fate is that most of the sportspersons fall short of the mental requirements, especially in pressure situations. Most players, especially in India, do not know that just as both technical skills and physical fitness can be enhanced, mental skills can similarly be learnt and enhanced as part of their pre-competition preparation,a�? Dr. Savanur explained.
In his own words, Dr. Savanur’s primary role is a�?to provide players with mental skills that can be practically applied on the field to help them push the mental barriers and face tough situations and challenges.a�?
“I am continuously working on different techniques and strategies to make them strong from within. We have already had a few sessions, solely focused on ‘mental toughness’ with the Goalkeepers and the outfield players as well.”
Dr. Savanur, an ex-Vidarbha Ranji Team Mental Conditioning Coach, who regularly sits across the table with even some of the noteworthy Tennis players in the junior as well as senior circuit, and Indian cricketers, stated: a�?Even if your team loses, you might have a great game and it can be vice versa. So I want the boys to be well-equipped to analyse their game to keep on improving as an individual, which would eventually help the team to go one step up in the long run.”
The Pune-based doctor takes a leaf out of the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ as he wants the players to be more ‘process-oriented’ but not ‘result-oriented.a��
He maintained: a�?Although focusing on the outcome is natural for any athlete, the fact is that we can’t control the end-product. But if we focus on that we become over-cautious and are unable to play freely and it actually affects our job. My main area of work is to train the minds using specialised mental skill strategies, customised for the team and for the individual — to help them be focused on their processes and keep on improving their skill sets and finally getting the result which we crave for.”
“Obviously, it’s something which they’ve never experienced before — mental coaching. But I would laud them for their positive approach towards me and the process. We already have had some mental drill sessions using some fun based learning, so that the entire process becomes experiential and meaningful. They must not go into the shell taking it as a ‘teacher-student session.a�� There must not be a barrier between us, I can’t afford to leave anything at the back of their mind unanswered,a�? the eloquent man exuded.
He informed his next ploy is to assess the boys during the preparation matches where they have to hold their nerves to pull off the results, to further customise the Mental Conditioning programme.
“While 80% of the overall process remains the same, I need to tweak the remaining 20% of the methodologies based on the sports. I’m working with 16-year old kids now who are like my children. I need to work on their emotional quotient because their emotions need to be kept in check, to ensure optimum arousal,a�? Dr. Savanur sounded more like a father than a professional coach.
Just on the verge of adding another leaf to their hats, Anikets and Dheerajs are undergoing rigorous practice akin to other 23 teams who will be rubbing their shoulders with these Indian youngsters in the next less than 200 days.
But, personnel akin to Dr. Savanur always stay behind the curtain who keeps on working silently. Come what may, Indian Football will always stay indebted to him who’s working towards aiding the boys inching closer to write a newer chapter of Indian Football, that too in the never-attained-before stage, FIFA World Cup.