India are head-hunting. Not literally, of course, for they seem to have their main squad more or less in place but Rahul Dravid is hoping that sports psychologist Dr Rudi Webster’s influence will help his players get out of whatever mental morass they are floundering in.
“I am a believer myself,” the Indian skipper said on Saturday, when asked how he thought Webster could help the Indians. “In modern sport, there is a lot of emphasis on the mental aspect of the game and personally, I believe training the mind is as important as training the body. And if you want the mind to be trained,” he added, “you have to provide the opportunity to allow that training, which is where a qualified sports psychologist can help."
While no one doubts Webster’s credentials --- he has successfully worked with a mixed bag of world-renowned sportsmen, from Viv Richards and Greg Chappell to golfer Greg Norman --- the problem with the Indian players might be one of communication.
For instance, when Chappell first came and told them about Edward de Bono's management techniques (the six thinking hats), more than one player was completely foxed. Dravid, while admitting that sports psychology was not for everyone, said if it could help even a couple of players, get them to respond and find solutions to their problems, it would go some way in helping the team.
“One or two players might not need anyone but others might. Of those, some might respond and Rudi has tremendous experience in getting the message across. There are various levels of intelligence and various levels of understanding and a trained psychologist will know that,” said Dravid.
Webster, in an interview a while ago, said something similar when he said he kept things ‘simple’ and avoided making his sessions an “academic or intellectual exercise.”
“I teach him (a player) how to recognise common and destructive emotions like fear, anxiety, impatience and disappointment, and show him how to prevent them and deal with them when they are present,” he had said.
The Indian captain, though, did seem to agree that communication (language particularly) could be a stumbling block between the Indian players and Webster in some cases but reasoned that everything needed time.
“The language of cricket is the same,” said Dravid. “The same expressions, terms, phrases… That at least would be common. With time and understanding, maybe they will open up to him.”