After CWG 2018 hockey blowout, performance director wants sports psychologist
India’s hockey teams went to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games confident of fighting for gold, only to botch the script and end up fourth.
The men’s team floundered in the semifinal, missing penalty corners and rushing things up inside the circle to lose to lower-ranked New Zealand. England beat India 2-1 in the bronze playoff. Execution was also a big issue as the women were walloped 6-0 by England in the bronze playoff.
However, Indian hockey’s high performance director, David John, blamed the players for succumbing to pressure. He now wants the federation to add another full-time member to the support staff – sports psychologist.
“The players failed to handle pressure at crucial junctures of the competition. It resulted in the teams returning empty-handed from the Games,” John said.
John was more disappointed with the men. “The men’s team was already under pressure. We lost to New Zealand in the semis and then in the bronze-medal match against England, missed scoring chances. Since things weren’t going their way, the team eventually wilted under pressure,” he said.
There is no dearth of experience or exposure trips for the teams. As per the HI website, winger SV Sunil has 228 India caps, forward Akashdeep Singh 146, defender and drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh has 188 while goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is a 177-game veteran. A succession of coaches has promised much, but the teams have often fallen short.
John said he would ask Hockey India to appoint a full-time sports psychologist. “We’ve been depending on part time guys to handle mental training. Taking into account the situation, we surely need a full-time person,” he said.
On the women’s squad, John said: “For bronze medal, against England, the forwardline failed to click. We had the chance to make a comeback in the third quarter, but poor finishing was a big setback.”
Next up will be the Asian Games. The national camp for the women’s team will begin on April 22. The men’s probables will assemble on April 27. John expects Sardar Singh and Ramandeep Singh -- both were dropped for CWG -- to be among the core group of players for Asian Games.
However, hectic schedule is a concern for the women’s team. “There is very little gap between the World Cup starting July 21 and the Asian Games beginning August 18,” he said.
The women will play in the Asian Champions Trophy in South Korea (May 13-20) and go on an exposure tour to Spain (June 10-19). The World Cup will be held in London (July 21-August 5).
The men’s team’s schedule is more staggered. It plays in the Champions Trophy (June 23-July 1) before the Asiad. The World Cup starts in Bhubaneswar on November 28.