Kerala Cricket Association appoints Jody Martins as mental conditioning coach

Jody Martins is Kerala's first ever mental conditioning coach in cricket.

Jody Martins is Kerala's first ever mental conditioning coach in cricket.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Indian sports ecosystem was not too well-versed with mental conditioning coaches in sports a decade-and-a-half ago. Paddy Upton's appointment in the Indian cricket team opened their eyes. During his tenure, India became the No. 1 Test side in 2009 and lifted the ODI World Cup in 2011.

Upton’s compatriot Jody Martins, who has joined the Kerala Cricket Association for a similar job, believes there is plenty of scope for a mental conditioning coach in sports. “I already have had two online sessions with the Kerala cricketers and am looking forward to being with them physically,” Martins told Sportstar from Mossel Bay on Friday. 

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the players were already into things like meditation and visualising; I would help them make use of such practices in their cricket.”

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Martins, a Cricket South Africa Level 3 coach, said he decided to focus on the mental aspect of training when he began to wonder why some of his wards became better cricketers than the others. “I felt the reason could be mental,” he said. “Though being a mental conditioning coach may not be financially as rewarding as being a normal coach, I enjoy this job.”

He said every team needed someone in the support staff who could help the players psychologically. “People have become more aware of the importance of mental health in cricket because cricketers like Ben Stokes have opened up about their struggles,” he said. 

“Before him, a few international players like Marcus Trescothick and Jonathan Trott had also admitted to having mental issues. Recently, New Zealand cricketer Amelia Kerr also took a break citing mental issues.”

Martins said a mental conditioning coach could play a proactive role with athletes. “I think coaches like me could offer a lot, especially now when the players have to deal with the lockdown and quarantine. As Upton said recently, the players would be physically refreshed but mentally drained after the quarantine."

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