Losing the battle in mind is the worst thing to be experienced by a player or a team on field. This is what I've just witnessed Saina Nehwal suffering from in her All England Badminton Super Series finals playing against the Spaniard Carolina Marin. On the other hand, Marin found the inspiration from within on the account of couple of points she won in row towards the closure of the first game of the match. Although she lost the first game, the way she fought back to gain thirteen championship points had been amazing. In that winning stint of her, more role was, I belief, of Saina rather than of Marin alone. It was Saina who lost the battle in her mind towards the middle of the decider game and eventually went on to lose the match and the championship.
The body language of Saina Nehwal during the match while she was trailing Marin was evident enough that the psychological preparation she had undergone was just not sufficient. More than the technique and physique, its the psychological aspects that play considerably major role in the crucial matches, especially in the finals rounds of any major tournament. of course the former duo matter but not to an extent that the win is so big as that of Marin's today. The huge difference in the points in the final set was surprising and I strongly believe that it was Saina who was succumbed to her own nervousness.
The zeal to fight is neither an over night's exercise nor an year's practice. Its the attitude basically, which must be built into a player's thought process during the early years of practice. If only the technical aspects are observed and the psychological aspects are overlooked, its never easy to overcome the high pressure games although the opponent is equally talented. This is my observation not just from badminton but from every sport I watch. There is a huge set back what especially I have seen the Indian players suffer from and that's the lacking of metal toughness as an individual and as a team. Coaches shall come up with the methodologies. I'm not proficient enough to suggest, obviously. However, I believe that there is a way out!
There are players who have proved that mental toughness and strong mindedness are possible and that's very much human. They are those who play as if they have no nerves, as if they cannot be defeated, as if they can win the matches from no where and they did that on many occasions. They are to some extent, gifted players but to a greater extent, their upbringing, the experiences in early years, and the coaching standards must have had their longing impact. They mostly appear fearless!
Let's take a case. Out of all the renowned cricketers we have in our country, Dhoni is said to be the only one with such a calmness and mental toughness. From all those crores of Indians, and among all those hundreds of cricketers this country has produced, Dhoni is only the one who said to be the cool-captain! Its not just said, its always seen too. Not every captain can come up the order in the world cup final on home soil and play a winning knock under huge pressure! It's Dhoni's style! Yes it is. That's his attitude and that would not have come with training but must have been because of the way his brought up had been. For him, as I understand it, sport is not about winning and losing. Its just about playing. Its just about going into the middle and giving the best possible. For him, Captaincy is not about the high pressure responsibility, but its just about any other responsibility in life, may be like a son's. Being responsible is important, weather its as India's captain or as a son or friend, you have to be responsible. All these must be equal with may be a slight differentiation. Talking as a winning captain and as a losing captain means just a talk and not the result. Life is ahead, in life everything is possible, every defeat and win are possible. This is one! It might be that way, as I understand it. Or may be he feels the pressure too, but the way he portrays himself, none of us would believe even if he himself says that he feels tensed, he feels pressurized. Of course, he is a human being and he has every emotion too. Its just that way he looks at life and builds the attitude that decides his gesture and perspectives.
This must be possible for every person provided the necessary care is taken and the necessary circumstances come in everyone's way. Definitely, circumstances cannot be created the same way in everyone's life, however, few methods could be followed which I believe are available in the kitty of psychiatrists. This is like a thesis which must be thoroughly understood and implemented with utmost discipline. Coaches are primarily the ones who can do all this to any player especially at his early ages. Parents have to play a bigger role too in shaping up their kids' attitude. Everyone around must put enough thoughts and efforts. This all looks ideal. In some cases all this may just happen like that. But that's not out of consciousness. Just imagine, if this can be worked out in a strategic way that making a player who is psychologically incredible, it will be yet another achievement of mankind. It is possible and I do believe so.
Btw, Congratulations Carolina Marin for that wonderful display of courage, deceptiveness and a great zeal.