The Rajasthan Royals have stood out for their mental toughness. In a chat with Jeremy Snape, the Royals’ high performance coach and psychologist, HT finds out what keeps the team going.
The Royals don’t have many big names, but are always in contention.
We always believed that the ability to handle pressure was more important than statistics. While recruiting our players, it was one of the key aspects we kept in mind.
We spoke to the coaches to get an idea of the players’ mental make-up and how they coped with pressure. With the incredibly close games we are having, we’ve seen how vital the ability to handle pressure is turning out to be. Teams are losing from a position of strength because they can’t withstand pressure. In our case, we have handled it better most of the times.
Do your lesser-known players need to be psyched up when they play against international stars?
There’s no need to psyche them up for it’s their childhood dream to play at this level. All we tell them is not to think who they are bowling to or batting against. We tell them to think about their game and deliver the best. We don’t talk much about the opposition, as it could be intimidating for the youngsters.
Aren’t the youngsters overawed by the presence of Shane Warne?
Initially, they are. For instance, Dinesh Salunkhe had tears in his eyes when he walked into the team last year. The boy had posters of Warne in his room all these years, and he just couldn’t believe that he was a part of a team led by his idol. Shane has a lot of time for the youngsters and talks to them about the game.
What makes Warne the outstanding leader that he is?
He is immensely talented. Secondly, he is hugely confident and if he makes a decision, he will make it work. His motto is ‘find a way’ and he gets the players to a position where they believe they can also find a way to win, and generally we do.
You have a do-or-die game coming up (against the Knight Riders). What will be your approach?
People tell us that it’s the biggest game of our lives, but nothing changes for us. We will stick to focussing on process, and not worrying about the result.
But isn’t it tough for the players to forget about the consequence of an important game and focus on their game?
That’s the hallmark of a top class player. A good player is one with a good technique and mindset, but a great player is one with good technique and great mindset. How one thinks and performs under pressure determines the course of his career.