Sports Psychologist Dr Phil Jauncey recently completed a week-long stint with the Tigers. The Australian, who had previously worked with the BCB during head coach Chandika Hathurusingha’s first tenure, had a look at the national cricketers and understood where they were as far physiological developments were concerned ahead of the Asia Cup and the World Cup. Before leaving Dhaka, Jauncey talked to The Daily Sun regarding his recent experience of working in Bangladesh.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
The Daily Sun: You worked with the Bangladesh cricket team before and now you worked with them again. How far these cricketers have improved as far as mental strength is concerned?
Phil Jauncey: You talk about mental strength but I talk about not mental strength. What I taught students is to execute and what I teach is power positive doing. I have 50 years’ clinical experience and four degrees of doctorate and I can’t control which emotions I have. But I can control how I react to those emotions. What we teach is not so much about mental strength but sticking to plan A like what I’m doing when I become successful and that works for me. But what I am doing when it’s plan Z, it doesn’t work for me. What we teach is when you don’t feel good doesn’t mean you can’t act good.
In cricket, the ball and the bat does not care how you feel but it matters what you do and so we are teaching power positive doing so that no matter what happens and what situation we are in, our skills are the same. So rather than saying you have to be mentally strong, the idea there is if I feel good, I can act good but what I’m teaching is you don’t have to feel good to act good. But when you act good, it feels good. We got each player to help them understand what they are doing when their mental computer is on and everybody is different and we do a profile. I teach six steps for success - step number one what you are doing now, step number two is it working, step number three if it is (working) stick to plan A and if it’s not changed. The change is three more steps - be specific, make a plan and act on it. With this philosophy, we are not worried about being mentally strong. We are talking about making sure you use your skills you have no matter how you feel. So that’s a different approach.
If you are selected in an international squad, you often have skills to perform and I try to teach them how they can perform no matter what the pressure from outside is because the skills remain the same.
The Daily Sun: Do you feel regular psychological work can develop a player to handle different situations better?
The Daily Sun: Players often go to depression following mediocre performance? What is the way to recover?
Phil Jauncey: Depressing means stopping. We often hear only the past was better and when we are saying only we are not fixing anything and we tend to stop and our brain gives lots of pain for what we are doing and that is not moving forward. Now what we do is move forward whether I get dropped or had a poor game or whether the press says bad things about me. If I am saying if I can make this obstacle an opportunity, certainly my brain is on and you are trying to fix it and since we try to fix it we don’t get depressed. We get energy and we move forward and it’s all about moving forward in life and so the technique as you called it is not so much technique the brain says when things go on make sure you move on and this doesn’t mean move on because in English move on means acting like it never happened. But moving forward means you accept and learn from the mistakes and you learn from what happened in the past and now you are moving forward as even better than before the problem happened. Once we start moving forward, the brain gets energy (leaving behind the depression).
The Daily Sun: How responsive were the cricketers and because you came here earlier was it easy to communicate?
Phil Jauncey: I was really pleased though I just stayed here for a week that the players I had known in 2014 and 2016 they responded very well to me and they were very helpful because the older players felt that I have something to say and the younger players too. I felt they were very positive and nice and they thanked me this morning on the field for helping them throughout the week.
The Daily Sun: Do you feel Shakib Al Hasan is the most mentally strong cricketer in Bangladesh?
Phil Jauncey: I think he has been obviously very successful and very good at that (mental strength to cope with pressure). You can’t be successful in cricket if you don’t read the game well and adapt especially if you are playing in all three forms of the game. You have to be pretty good at what you do. I’m not a good enough cricket expert to judge any cricketer as I’m a psychologist but what I’m saying is that if anybody in any sport succeeded for a long period of time because he read the sport well and made good decisions otherwise they wouldn’t have lasted.
The Daily Sun: There are certain players who fail to handle the pressure of the media. What is your suggestion for them?
Phil Jauncey: I say when you are young, you get eager media talking about you and when you have social media, even more so when you get likes. One of the things that most experienced players do is they stop reading the media and they don’t use social media that much because what happens is there are a lot of people who are unhappy reading negative things about them. There is more social media stuff than public media and he says how do I handle that and I say just remember when people put you down. The reason people put you down and one of the reasons can be they are unhappy.
In public media, people love to read the negative things like how they lost it or how they are hurting the team and not being good and I understand that the nature of the beast and so you have to understand that’s the job. You can ask somebody to say something about me if it’s true I can do anything about it.
It’s not painted them particularly, it's aimed at an audience to read. This is a tough one because people raise their voice in social media, young people reading about likes and dislikes in various forms. When I was in school, I got bullied from nine to three but now you get 24 hours a day and you can be hurt on social media.
The media can upset your ego because at one stage, the media thought you were great and now they are saying that you are not good or conversely I have seen coaches been criticized terribly in the mid season for terrible decisions. So you have to accept that if you are in the public face and without the media, sports wouldn’t do well. They wouldn’t get television coverage, they wouldn’t get people to come into the game but yeah you need the media.
What I have to learn is that if I am getting criticized in the media and it affects my performance than probably I am in the wrong place because once you are in the public face you know that criticism can be there like movies stars get annoyed with paparazzi….When you are a superstar, you have to accept that people wants to find thing about you and if somebody find negative thing they are going to print it. You can’t do anything about it but to accept it.