Asian Games 2018: Does PV Sindhu need a sports psychologist to help her win finals?

Asian Games - Day 10
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu becomes the first Indian woman to win an Asiad Silver

PV Sindhu is undoubtedly the best thing to happen to women's sports in India. She is a role model, and her accomplishments speak for her. Few sportsmen have achieved what Sindhu has. With 10 major international badminton titles to her name, it is a massive injustice for anyone to describe her as anything less than a champion.

However, losses are tough to take in, especially in the finals. The hopes of a nation are at stake every time Sindhu reaches a major final. The heartbreak each time she finishes second best, pains even the most ardent of her supporters. Of late, her losses in the finals have been making more headlines than her title victories.

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu won her last major title, the Korean Open, in September 2017, beating Nozomi Okuhara in 3 games. A few weeks before that, Okuhara had defeated Sindhu in the final of the World Championship in a marathon match. To win the tournament final in 3 games against an opponent who had recently defeated her, shows that Sindhu has the gumption and the steel to hold her nerve and be a champion.

Since then, Sindhu has reached the finals in the international circuit on 7 occasions, the last one being the Asian Games 2018 Gold medal match. In each of these matches, Sindhu has found herself being bested by her co-finalists. To be fair to her, Sindhu played against the toughest opponents in women's badminton in those aforementioned summit clashes. Her opponent in the Asian Games final was Tai Tzu Ying from Taiwan, the current world no. 1.

Losing 7 finals on the trot can be hard on the toughest of minds. There is a possibility of it denting the psyche of the losing player. Under such conditions, taking the counsel of a sports psychologist may be the need of the hour for the India No. 1. Consultation from a sports psychologist may help in easing her mind before big matches, thereby helping Sindhu focus on the game and not the occasion.

Sports psychologists, also sometimes referred to as mental health coaches, help athletes arrive at the right frame of mind. They ensure that the sportsmen are focussed on the right things, and are able to ignore peripheral incidents. From individual sportsmen like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, to teams like Tottenham Hotspurs and the English Rugby team, many have benefitted from counselling sessions from sports psychologists.

In fact sports psychology has been successfully applied by some businessmen and CEOs to improve the fortunes of their companies.

Sindhu needs to break the chain of losses in the finals. A mindset change might help her get back to title-winning ways. Any help required to achieve this must be sought and provided by her coaches and the associations.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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