Everyone’s focus is on the Olympics, says men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid

“If you ask a player today what they want to do or are looking forward to, they will say it’s the Olympics,” says Indian’s men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid.

“We have told the players to now press the reset button. It’ll come down to how everyone can get back into the form that they were in before the lockdown,” says Indian men’s head coach Graham Reid.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

In an interview with Sportstar, Indian men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid stated that it was crucial to help players overcome the mental challenges of being away from their family during the lockdown period.

How did you keep the players mentally positive in these uncertain times?

It was crucial to make sure that the players were feeling positive mentally during this lockdown period. They were away from their families, so we tried to make sure that we were talking about positive things in our individual and online meetings. We tried to keep the players occupied through some video analysis, and spoke about their performances in the last year and what we expect from them once we return to international hockey. We tried to touch base with the players every day to see how they and their families have been doing. We crack jokes with the players, and try to keep them in a jovial frame of mind.

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It is tough to keep players focused on the main goal — 2021 Olympics — with all the coronavirus-related distractions...

We were still in touch with the sport during the lockdown period. We have been analysing the opposition teams and working on our tactics, and also making sure that all members of the team are also utilising the time to analyse and learn. I do not believe that it is tough to keep the players focused, because at the moment, everyone’s focus is on the Olympics itself. If you ask a player today what they want to do or are looking forward to, they will say it’s the Olympics. We have told the players to now press the reset button. It’ll come down to how everyone can get back into the form that they were in before the lockdown. At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty, but once we have a confirmed schedule for international matches, we can have a concrete plan for the Olympics and work towards it.

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Staying away from family — for both yourself and the players — presents tremendous challenges. How did you cope with it?

One of the things that, perhaps, has made it easier for the players and myself to deal with this period is that the entire world is battling with the same issue. So it’s not that it’s only us who are dealing with this period. Almost every other country has had a lockdown. Having said that, players have undertaken English classes online, taken part in quizzes on video and have also been maintaining their strength and fitness. Another aspect has been taking care of their mental health. It is definitely challenging, but we have all been used to staying away from our families for long periods of time, and this is one situation where you do not have any other option but to comply with all the necessary guidelines and make sure everyone is healthy.