‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’

Atif Azam

31 March, 2020 12:00 AM printer

‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’

Bangladesh’s National Cricket Team’s former psychologist Ali Azhar Khan emphasised that cricketers need to make the most of the present crisis by following the rule which states ‘If you don’t use, it you lose it’.

Ali, a Bangladesh-born Canadian sports psychologist told daily sun that he is aware that this is a very critical time for every cricketer as they are all stuck at home due to coronavirus pandemic but insisted that patience will be the key during this period of crisis.

It is quite obvious that cricketers like many other professionals will be challenged both physically and mentally by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic considering they are not used to dealing with such kind of crisis.

Recently, BCB had instructed cricketers to practice meditation to strengthen their mental strength as during this vulnerable time it often seems that players go through psychological breakdown considering they are not used to this kind of environment.

“Coronavirus situation is a global crisis. Regardless of nation, race, religion or profession, it forced us to stand on the same platform and push us to act in the same manner. We all stand as one,” said Ali.

“Presently the only job we all have is to stay home and stay clean. But professional athletes may not be used to the luxury of just relaxing and watch TV.  The rule of skill is if you don’t use it, you lose it,” he said.

Ali added that cricketers should follow visual-motor rehearsal and kinesthetic visualisation to make the time productive as according to the man known to be one of the best in the business, when it comes to peak performance, coaches around the world stressing on only physical fitness might just not be sufficient for the cricketers.

“At this moment it is a common dilemma for any professional athlete all over the world. So we have to try our best to get the best out of it,” said Ali.

“Of course, fitness improvement is one of the common and relatively easy things to do for the athletes during this period.  But the biggest issue is technical maintenance. In order to turn this time into a productive period,” he said.

“There are two essential practices I have proposed to the professional athletes I have been working in Canada and Bangladesh called visual-motor rehearsal and kinesthetic visualisation,” he said.

“Both practices are scientifically proven formulas, which can robustly impact skill development if it is done in a correct manner. Both can be easily practiced in a quarantine status,” he said. 

According to many working closely with the cricketers, mental impact of coronavirus pandemic is one area that cricketers need to be really mindful of.

A cricketer who is taken to a constrained environment from a routine actively suggests that these cricketers were physically active for six to eight hours a day in structured nets, it is very common to have a psychological impact of that.

Ali admitted that the fear of unknown can seep into their mind but added that they need to show their patience during these days of crisis. “Coronavirus is a global pandemic and no one knows where it’s going and how and when it will end. Fear of the unknown is a natural instinct of mankind,” said Ali.

“Cricket players are not having to tackle things differently in this situation.  When the enemy is truly unfamiliar, the best way to deal with it is; don’t deal with it which means to have patience.  Do your best and leave the rest (to the creator),’” he said adding that he is aware that it is easier said than done. 

“But despite all these very difficult challenges, there are few social, psychological and environmental benefits that have been offered with this pandemic package and  we do not know when human beings will again get the chance to be with their family without the boundaries of timeframe,” he said.

“So I think to make the best out of it, this is the time we need to stop hustling and spend quality time with the family and at the same time, let’s learn how to calm ourselves down  and cultivate patience within,” he said.

“When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade,” concluded Ali

BCB hired Ali twice, once in 2014 and the second time in 2018 to give mental support advice to the cricketers and since then despite being away in foreign assignments, he is known to be helping out his charges when he is contacted for help.