Conditioning stays an integral part of any sport – be it physical or mental, because often it proves to be the difference between winning and losing between two evenly matched teams.
With the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – India more than a year away, All India Football Federation, in coordination with Premier League and Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) conducted a mental conditioning session in Goa with the U-17 Women’s Team coaches and players. The Senior Women’s Team coaches and staff were also in attendance.
The sessions were conducted by Richard Beeby, currently PGMOL International Development Manager who has been partnering with Federations and Leagues; and Liam Slack, a renowned sports psychologist, winner of International PHD Award 2014 on ‘Mental Toughness in Elite Football Officiating.’
“We covered the key topics within the area of ‘mental toughness’ including reviewing personal pride, passion, purpose leading towards enhancing performance,” Slack stated.
“As with all sports, particularly in a challenging professional environment, having resilience to cope with a range of demands is essential. Strategies to assist include ‘mental toughness’, a subject which is increasingly growing in importance for sports – men and women – to perform at their maximum,” he added.
“The U17 squad considered the importance of self-evaluation and the need to share, when appropriate, information with colleagues and coaching staff for the betterment of team cohesion with the coaching staff, the many facets and importance of pre-tournament preparation by breaking down every element into segments with the intention of identifying marginal gains in each area,” he added.
It was during the build-up to the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 that AIFF had arranged for a psychologist to help and stay with the team to aid them in regulating the adrenalin rush, and maintain optimum focussed attention and aggressiveness on the field, shrugging off the fatigue and distractions.
Coach of the Indian U-17 Women’s National Team, Alex Ambrose informed that “the players have acknowledged the need of mental conditioning and have responded with immense results.”
“They have applied the mental conditioning strategies on the field and will reap benefits from it in the long run,” he felt. “Mental conditioning and health plays a key role in stress situations for an athlete. A level-headed mind under pressure, sometimes deals with half of the crunch situations.”
Maymol Rocky, Head Coach of the Indian Senior Women’s National Team, explained the “workshop helped immensely in knowing how mental preparation can help in either boosting the performance or reducing the performance of the team.”