Good morning Badri Narayanan, great to have you here… First of all, please explain to our viewers who you are and what you do as a job?
Thanks Mark. I am a mental conditioning and a high performance coach and work with players on the ATP Tour. I have nearly 20 years of experience in this field and and my main purpose is to help athletes across multiple sports to face their inner demons, instill inner belief in their sport and reach their peak potential on and off court .
Thanks Badri. So, how long have you been qualified as a sports psychologist, and how come you chose that career path?
17 years to be precise. I felt it was my calling and I realised at a young age that I could help athletes in removing their inner cobwebs of doubt and succeed at the highest level . The way I was seeing the sport was unique and I felt if I could help improve that quality in the player, it will be great for the player and me as a coach to help them express themselves and be comfortable with themselves whether they win or lose .
One of the other reasons I chose this as a profession was that I believe at the highest level, or any level for that matter, sport is 90 percent mental. It appears to be an overlooked area, and pretty much in every pressure situation I saw many athletes crumble, only to find that they did not train themselves mentally, even though they had great talent and unbelievable physique. It was a no brainer for me to be in this field.
We must congratulate you on your success at Wimbledon recently with a couple of your players reaching the quarter finals in doubles (Joe Salisbury and Divij Sharan). Tell us your involvement with these players. Were you at Wimbledon with them all the way?
I have been associated with many players on the ATP tour singles and doubles. My job as a high performance mental conditioning coach is to prepare them mentally and physically to be ready for their events . We work a lot on simulation drills creating real time situations in matches and have the player to train under that kind of pressure, so that he feels fully prepared and ready when they are out there. They know that no matter what situation I am in, I can conquer and succeed .
I have been associated with Divij Sharan and Joe Salisbury for the last year. They have worked so hard on their mental games . They were comfortable being uncomfortable, as they had to face a lot of their inner challenges head on, both on and off court. I knew if they continued this way they will be grand slam ready . I wasn’t surprised about their results. It was not a question of if but more of when they would be ready to succeed at grand slam level. They are still at the tip of the ice berg, but with their work ethic and dedication to mental training, winning a slam is bound to happen.
As a Sports Psychologist, what is our greatest achievement? Tell us a little bit about it and how you used your knowledge to ‘fix’ that sports person?
It is hard to pin point one. For the sake of it , Shikhar Dhawan’s run in the 2015 World Cup. Prior to that he had a string of low scores, but we kept him unconditionally confident and to trust in his game no matter what happens on the field. That helped him immensely to stay positive through the struggle . We used a lot of visualisation and bio-feedback to keep him zoned in and made that the top priority. He did it to perfection. He ended up being the highest scorer for the team even though we lost in the semi finals.
Tennis, another top player (can’t name due to NDA) who worked with me for a year and a half before beating Andy Murray was a great aha moment for me. Alexander Peya, another client of mine winning Basel with Bruno Soares in 2015 was huge too considering they hadn’t won a title all year . They showed tremendous mental discipline to overcome the set backs .
Divij Sharan and Joe Salisbury’s recent success has been phenomenal. I have also started working with Sriram Balaji and Vishnu Vardhan, who made it to Wimbledon main draw first time and are top 100 in the world now . Sumit Nagal is another great talent who I have begun working with and will have huge upside in this journey.
One of your greatest successes is known to be Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan. Being a cricket fan myself and with India taking on England in the Test Series, what if anything have you said to Shikhar Dhawan, after he recently scored a ‘pair’ in a tour match against Essex (twice out for 0 in a match)?
We have enough trust in each other and he has gone through the grind and is immune to success and failure . He knows no matter what happens he will be fine and continue to trust in the process and enjoy the game . That will lead to external success .
Finally, what is your prediction for the India v England Test Series and who are your favourites to win the US Open at the end of the month?
It will be close. Heart says India but England is a great side in home conditions. Going on the limp and predicting India to win the series. Novak is looking primed and ready to win the US open 2018.
Thank you very much for your insightful and thoughtful answers Badri. From all at Sportsprosconnect.com, we wish you every success in the sporting world for the rest of 2018 and onwards. If you would like to see more about Badri, please click here. Please also check out Quantum Leap Performance, the company that Badri co-owns with his business partner Ramji Srinivasan
Mark Wylam (Owner Sportsprosconnect.com)