Interview With former U-16 Women’s Football National Team Player and Sports Psychologist, Kunashni Parikh

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5) Tell us something about your profession as a sports psychologist. What do you do and how has it helped the sportspersons?

As a professional, my goal is to help athletes improve their performance through mental training. Like I said there are a lot of stresses, mental blocks, confidence problems that happen. So my job is to take you through a journey of mental transformation from low confidence to high confidence and from being mentally weak to being mentally strong. So that’s something I do as a psychologist. The different ways I do it are using various techniques of psychology. They can be from various different researches, various different theories.

As a psychologist, you get to decide what to do with each player because every player is different, every sport is different. There are a specific set of skills for that. Like cricketers are very different from footballers. Golf players are different from swimmers. Everybody has a different personality, a different mindset. Even within football, a defender’s mindset is different from a striker’s mindset. How do you talk to them, how do you guide them? It’s not just the confidence that is there. They also learn other mental blocks that are there. There can be ego, not being able to work well with other players. There can be people doubting themselves a lot, facing a lot of guilt because of lack of performance in the past.

So every specific issue that comes, you have to tackle that. So it’s not a general thing that you have to take care of. People come to me for a very specific thing that they are going through and I give them a very tailored specified approach based on their personality and mindset to help them. So this is how my approach goes. And how I help the players, you can see it themselves. They come and tell me that ma’am I feel confident, I feel a change in my performance, it feels all refreshed and magical. My game is so much improved now. I don’t have any negative thoughts and now I play very confidently, smoothly.

When I hear these things I feel great because I know where they were three months ago. I heard the nervousness in their voice, I heard the hesitation in their voice of not wanting to speak to a psychologist also. So now when you see them playing, winning games, winning medals and trophies it feels very great. Also at the end of the day, you might not win all your medals but you know where your performance has reached. So that is what makes you feel happy. So that’s my role as a psychologist to make sure you give your best.

6) What are the workshops that you do monthly? Are these general workshops or are the workshops focused on a particular topic?

The works that I am having are catered to a more general crowd. Firstly, to get everybody introduced to the concept of sports psychology. It happens that people say they have heard what is sports psychology or mental training but they don’t really know much about it. Let’s see what this workshop is about. So that is a very general workshop. In the first half I tell and teach people what is psychology, why is it important to have mental training. Why is it important to work on your mindset so you don’t feel under confident and you perform your best. So these are the general workshop that are there.

Then there are workshops for people who are already introduced to this concept of psychology and want to learn more by focusing on a specific technique. Recently, I had one very popular workshop on visualization. People have heard a lot about visualization but they have never tried it. So they wanted to learn and try it and I also wanted that the people learn about it. Thus, my workshops are very practical in nature. You get all the information to be at home and try this technique for yourself. So I give you all the tools, the materials that you need. Also, within the workshop, we have a practical demo session for half of the workshop period. So 50% of the workshop is learning how to do it and the rest 50% is practicing it with everybody.

For example, we did a half an hour practice session for visualization. In the end, we do a QnA session where people ask me whatever doubts they have. So these are specialized topics that are there other than the general workshop. I have both specific and generalized workshops going on and people are free to choose whatever they want to attend. I keep these workshops priced very low, very basic so that more people can join in and be introduced to this topic and learn this.