“I couldn’t have said I am not feeling great and I need to get away from the game”. You never know how that is taken. These things should be of great importance. If you think a player is important enough for Indian cricket, he should be looked after. At the international stage, every player needs that communication and the ability to speak up”- Virat Kohli
This recent statement from Kohli has got mental health in Cricket into the limelight. So as it is said Billions of people and only 11 get selected to represent the country.
It feels like a lot of pressure already. There is tremendous competition in all sports but cricket gets the most because of the passion and the reach of the game in India.
A lot of players approach a sport psychologist to get mentally tougher because even sometimes the smallest things puts a lot of pressure and anxiety in them. Leave performance pressure, the pressure of being selected is the most common stimulus that generates anxiety. That in turn generates performance pressure. It’s not easy to make it large. Not primarily due to “politics” but other demands. As a young cricketer, there a some common demands which can make a player quit the game:
1. Fear of failure due to expectations from the significant people in the young cricketer’s life. Viz., parents, coaches, peers, Significant others.
2. Failure to achieve a certain level at a certain age. “If he/she can do it at my age, why can’t i?”
3. “Need of Achievement” which leads to comparison between academics and cricket, some choose the former due to society pressure or ‘helplessness to deal with the existing pressures in cricket that prevents players from achieving a good level of performance.
4. Striving to stay injury free. One huge injury leads to a poor season and then overlooked by the selectors.
What can the player do?
1. Seek help of the coaches or trusted people in their lives
2. If need be, seek the help of a sport psychologist. They will help you compartmentalise your life and probably guide your through the tougher times
3. Even if you are burned out and want to take a break, do it professionally. Take the help of a psychologist to take the break and also make a comeback with their guidance.
4. Build a circle of trusted people and only believe in their advice/ suggestions. Don’t let others bog you down.
5. Maintain a diary to write your daily experience. Spend at least 10mins at the end of the day to jot down your feelings and thoughts.
Written by Varadyani Gore