Vohra’s secret to cracking the mind code

There is a thing about Manan Vohra that most of his team-mates at Punjab Ranji Trophy team admire. No matter how difficult the situation gets, the young batsman never gives up. But then, it’s an irony that the same cricketer had to consult a mental conditioning coach a couple of years back to get rid of pressure psychosis and come out of the phase, where his hopes were dashed.

Kings XI Punjab’s Manan Vohra had to consult a mental conditioning coach a couple of years back to get rid of pressure psychosis he experienced.   -  PTI

 

There is a thing about Manan Vohra that most of his team-mates at Punjab Ranji Trophy team admire. No matter how difficult the situation gets, the young batsman never gives up. Even under pressure, Vohra makes it a point to stand up, deliver the goods and invariably raises the bar.

And as the Kings XI Punjab batsman fell five short of a century in a Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday, the first person who walked up to him and patted on the back was Yuvraj Singh — Vohra’s senior team-mate in Punjab. It was his indomitable spirit that even got the social media abuzz, with everyone appreciating the youngster’s positive mindset.

But then, it’s an irony that the same cricketer had to consult a mental conditioning coach a couple of years back to get rid of pressure psychosis and come out of the phase, where his hopes were dashed.

And that visit to the mental conditioning coach has interestingly brought him on a common plain with Beijing Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra. One might wonder how that is possible, given the fact that Bindra and Vohra are in two different zones — the former a world-class shooter and the latter a young cricketer. But there is someone who binds the two — Dr. Amit Bhattacharjee — a mental conditioning coach, who is considered to have played a mentoring role in Bindra’s Olympic achievement.

Three years back when Chandigarh-based Vohra visited Bhattacharjee for the first time, he was just another young cricketer looking to make it big. That time, the visits would, however, be restricted to just once or twice, or as and when required. Things, however, changed last year when the 23-year-old actually realised the need of having a full-time mental guide. “He was having problems related to stress and anxiety. There were fears of not being able to perform well. He looked lost,” Bhattacharjee tells Sportstar.

Manan Vohra during a mental training session with Dr Amit Bhattacharjee.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Despite having decent outings at the domestic level and in the IPL, the fear of losing had gripped Vohra. “That was a kind of phase when he was under the impression that nothing was going his way. Such things happen in the life of a sportsman. Despite giving the best efforts, they often suffer from anxiety,” Bhattacharjee says, drawing reference to Bindra.

In his autobiography, ‘A Shot at History’, the ace shooter has mentioned about how regular sessions with Bhattacharjee helped him overcome the sorrows of Athens Olympics and made him tougher for the Beijing Games. And, the senior mental conditioning expert has followed a similar pattern to help out Vohra. “At a time when Manan came to me, it was important to treat his sub-conscious mind. For any sportsman, it is important to reduce the butterflies in the stomach and work on his bio-mechanics. That’s all I did,” Bhattacharjee says.

For the last one year, that has been Vohra’s daily regime. After sweating it out at the nets, the youngster would be seen taking mind classes from Bhattacharjee. While he has used Neuro Linguistic programme to help Vohra stop procrastinating, the efforts have been taken to improve the cricketer’s dopamine level too. “When Manan came to me, he was unsure about the road ahead. It looked as if he wanted a mental reliever, and that’s what I did. It was necessary to address his mental needs,” Bhattacharjee explains.

While the regular procedures continued, Vohra was asked to start Tao meditation (a type of meditation that emphasises on living in harmony with nature). “There are certain rules of doing the Tao meditation. It helps one develop the concentration and does away with the negative thinking,” Bhattacharjee says.

Even Vohra admits that mind training sessions have worked wonders for him. While his concentration has improved, the young batsman feels more confident these days, and that shows as he speaks about Monday’s knock. “After those sessions, I always believed that something wonderful is about to happen,” he tells Sportstar from Indore, where Punjab is to take on Mumbai Indians on Thursday.

The Punjab batsman also admits that in a high-pressure tournament such as the IPL, it is important to keep the focus intact. “Being focused was a problem and I had to correct it,” he says.

Bhattacharjee, whose association with Bindra goes back a long way, admits that for a mental conditioning coach it is important to understand the behavioural pattern of a sportsperson and react accordingly. “Only focusing on mental issues and meditation wouldn’t help. You need more than that,” he goes on.

And, that’s why Vohra’s postural body analysis was done at Technobody — a high-end centre run by Bindra. “Those trainings and analysis actually helps us treat a player better,” Bhattacharjee says, adding that given his positive mindset, Vohra can make it big in this edition of the IPL. “With a bit of self-belief and mental fitness, a player can overcome all the odds,” Bhattacharjee says with a smile.

Well, cracking the mind code is never that easy!