A room full of people talking to each other, gesticulating, some of them rolling their eyes. (More sports news)
To an outsider, it would seem like a monster show. But it’s a common sight at elite sporting events, such as the ongoing World Championships in Athletics in Oregon, where Neeraj Chopra and Rohit Yadav will compete in the javelin final on Sunday at 7:05 a.m. IST .
The seemingly crazy people in the room are actually athletes visualizing their competition. They imagine everything, like their movements, their emotions, their fears and the sights and sounds of the stadium.
Neeraj has been using visualization for a long time. In an interview ahead of the Tokyo Olympics last year, where he won the gold medal, the 24-year-old said: “I keep visualizing my throws in Tokyo. I imagine the setting and the area and how I’m going to play. I’m doing this so it doesn’t feel like a new experience when I’m there and so I don’t get overwhelmed by the situation.”
Visualization is not a new technique. People from all walks of life have used it before speeches, creative performances, or job interviews. In sports, athletes dating back to pioneer Billie Jean King have practiced visualization. In the Indian context, Sachin Tendulkar would play whole overs in his head the day before a match.
Contemporary visualization, however, is of a more detailed and granular type, and therefore known as ‘imagery’.
“You have to feel it. You must hear it. You have to feel it, everything,” American skier Emily Cook told The New York Times. “Oh, yeah, that’s ridiculous; we’re all up there flapping our arms. Sounds crazy, but it works. »
No matter how prepared an athlete is, real life has a knack for throwing a curveball at the worst possible time. In such cases, the athlete must think and work his way through.
Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu suffered excruciating menstrual cramps the day before her round in the 49kg category at the Tokyo Olympics. This precipitated a change in his strategy. Wanting to send a message to her rivals, she committed to a hard entry total of 210kg a day before the event. It was 5kg heavier than her personal best and the highest of the eight women’s scrum.
Head coach Vijay Sharma later told the New Indian Express: “She (Chanu) realized on the eve of the competition that her period had started. to send a strong warning to her opponents that she is in great shape and can’t wait to go.
Much to the delight of the nation, Chanu won the silver medal, carrying 115kg on his last successful lift. Speaking of the painful night before, she later said: “There was doubt in my mind because your body is starting to react differently. [in such situations]. But I kept my focus and stopped thinking about it later.
A frequently discussed aspect of preparation, although not in India, is sex during competition. Conventional wisdom is to abstain, so that strength and aggression are preserved. Another theory is that a reasonable amount of action in the bedroom keeps athletes relaxed. This is why today’s players are often allowed to see their partners at least a few times during a tournament.
Before, that was not the case. One of the most famous stories on the subject concerns American long jumper Bob Beamon.
The day before his final at the Mexico Olympics in 1968, Beamon was overcome with anxiety.
“I was on edge. I went out and had a few shots of tequila – a little something to settle in,” he told the Guardian.
Beamon then got physical with his girlfriend, breaking what was a professional sports pact at the time. After the act, as often happens, the Regret Express rammed it.
But the next day, Beamon had a pep talk with himself and jumped an unprecedented motile of 8.90 m (29 ft 2 ⅜ in). It was a world record that stood for 23 years. It still remains an Olympic record, even though it dates back more than five decades. Maybe all athletes need to have an appointment the night before.