Alisha Raut -- a sports psychologist who helps players become mentally stronger
New Delhi, May 1, 2021
These are distressing times. Painful times with citizens forced indoors. Those venturing out run the risk of being infected by Covid. There seems no respite. It has been particularly hard on the young minds who would, in normal circumstances, engage themselves in physical activities on sports fields.
That sportspersons have been involved actively in training and competing reflects on the positivity they exude. But then it has been a task for them to stay focused. There are issues of living in a taxing bio-bubble that can play havoc with the mental health of those experiencing it.
For Palghar-based Alisha Raut, a sports psychologist involved with many sportsmen, the lockdown period is an extension of the phase where a sportsman has to deal with a subject – mental health – that is not given prominence by authorities. And she tries to make a difference to the approach by the sportsmen.
Alisha has had a wonderful association with cricket. “My association with cricket is through the area of sports psychology, where I have helped many budding and well-established cricketers. These players are affiliated with major sports leagues like the IPL (Indian Premier League) as well as domestic and international players.”
Alisha notes, “The idea is to create a level of mental strength by amplifying their authentic self and condition their natural competence to achieve high performance behaviour. I help them to build better communication pattern with the team and coaches to create a productive environment. I advocate for their mental health needs by helping them overcome problems like internal conflicts and performance anxiety.”
On mental health being ignored by most sports associations, Alisha feels, “Coaches and sports governing bodies have a crucial role in helping de-stigmatise mental health as a concept and promote a culture of mental well-being. They do acknowledge its importance but lack implementation. Poor understanding of the concept, busy schedules, and stigma attached to the word has a lot to do with that fact.”
It is not always possible for a player to give his/her best. How does one deal with a player who has under-performed? “Through various mental strategies,” insists Alisha, “Strategies such as goal setting, visualization, self-talk and relaxation techniques that help athletes overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential and individual counselling to cope with the pressures of competition.”
Attached with the Vidarbha Cricket Association, Alisha makes a fervent appeal for inclusion of sports psychology as a compulsory part of grooming a sportsman? “Yes,“ she emphasizes, “sports psychologists can help you overcome problems, enhance your performance, and achieve your goals. It’s the need of the hour in today’s world where athletes are constantly under pressure to perform their best and achieve peak performance.”
In the fierce world of sport, there is a thin line that separates success and failure. Alisha stresses, “I don’t use the word failure because of its negative connotations but I will say that giving up and acceptance of the fact that there is always room for improvement is the thin line between good performance and a mediocre one. Else this hindrance is just a stop in the journey to excellence.”
Having worked with some top sportsmen, Alisha states, “I will not reveal identity of that person but I helped a junior U-19 player to deal with his suicidal tendency. I think there cannot be a bigger achievement for any psychologist than helping save someone’s life.”