Radhika Kawlra Singh is shaping the mental edge among top Indian athletes
India’s top Mind Trainer Radhika Kawlra Singh has been utilizing applied psychology principles in training Olympic athletes since 2008. She has trained India’s blue-eyed boys for most skilled sports, Air Rifle, Shot Gun: Trap and Skeet, Archery, Wrestling, Golf, Swimming, Badminton, Kabbadi, and now Kho Kho. In a conversation with Radhika, we learn how a sustained scientific approach to mental training initiates powerful self-belief and faith to bring home a medal.
What’s the best update on mental training today?
India is finally growing a new culture that is increasingly addressing the concerns of athletes. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when I was coaching Rajya Vardhan Rathod to defend his Olympic silver medal, the sports federations were wary in addressing the mental side. Increasingly with time, more athletes found mind training useful.
Explain how you can enable an athlete to truly adopt the Olympic motto ‘Citius - Altius – Fortius’?
A literal translation of the motto is ‘Faster - Higher – Stronger’. It endeavours to trigger the athlete to get past his limitation to perform better. With mind coaching, I train athletes to reflect within to become insightful about their weakness and strength. Accessing this information, making it useful and marrying it to the technical skill requires a qualified mind coach's ability.‘Faster’ means the athlete has trained the subconscious to respond without restriction. ‘Higher’ refers to the creationof new neural patterns, and ‘Stronger’ reflects the ability to remain persistent to sustain mental strength.
Can you comment on the work of any athlete you worked with and admire?
I have great admiration for World Number One, Double Trap - Ronjan Sodhi. He has made a magnanimous contribution to shooting by bringing home the maximum medals for shooting. Today, he is re-developing various aspects of sports science in India. He is designing and building fully equipped infrastructure, aligning experts for strength and conditioning, arranging psychologists for mental acuity, incorporating ABF’s high-performance Techno Body training centres, raising funds for disempowered athletes through advising and encouraging a trust, and working in tandem with SAI to ensure that government funds are being well utilised. He was once called India’s blue-eyed boy. He continues to give fully to Indian sport.
Does a successful athlete realise the impact of mind training and give you any credit?
In Ronjan’s words “Martina Navratilova was asked how do you maintain your focus? she said “Every game in life is actually played on a 6 inch ground, the space between your two ears.” In my shooting career I have worked with a lot of Psychologists from India and abroad but when I started working with Radhika my entire perspective of psychology changed. She made the whole thing look so easy and eventually became world number 1 in no time. The best thing about her is that she works with an athletes entire team, coach, Physio, Manager and the family. There are many perspectives to an athlete’s journey. Radhika makes sure that all the dots are joined”
How does an athlete engage with the mental side of training despite knowing success is not guaranteed?
I worked with Abhinav Bindra for the 2012 Olympic games. We left no stone unturned. He was not afraid to change his technique, build new anchors, discard and re-build newer brain patterns. He was disciplined, persistent, goal-oriented. His daily tasks serviced only one goal. Even sleep was attached to an anchor for calm or a trigger to discover active aggression to fight it out to find success. He adopted every single new mind strategy with the utmost integrity. He addressed his spiritual journey by working through the deepest inner realm. He was fully prepended for success. With a 594, he did not make it to the final 8, who qualified with a score of 596 – 599. Athletes fail more than succeed – a good sportsman understands and integrates that so he does not fall when he fails. Abhinav continues to inspire every athlete to dream higher.
What kind of psychological methods make your process of training a scientific toolkit?
With two decades of study on the subconscious mind, including sports hypnosis, training India’s top athletes over 4 Olympic games, I believe the applied psychology approach I use is thorough. It combines experimental, personality and developmental psychology as fundamental methods to research the brain and its response. It focuses on enabling athletes to study their thought patterns, feelings, and behaviours to find their individual unique strength. The work includes a counselling psychologist's job to improve interpersonal skills on social and emotional health and engender change and growth. Mental training strategies are individualistic and initiate a re-programming of subconscious triggers. The process investigates the athlete's cognitive abilities, so they focus, become more attentive to detail, and understand just how to re-align with newer goals. I do not prescribe any medication, yet I do work on psychosomatic issues and address clinical work like dismissing fear, dealing with anxiety, and balancing mental high-low alterations. The approach fully encompasses the athlete’s complete journey so he may fully believe in himself.
Radhika Kawlra Singh, has authored the ‘YOU’ trilogy of books over the last two years. You will find many easy tools and techniques. https://manylink.co/@mindcoachradhika
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