The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gordon’s triple mantra for Team India
- Players must set weekly goals, stresses much-in-demand psychologist

Singapore, Jan.10: Hot-shot sport psychologist Sandy Gordon, who was with Team India throughout the Sydney Test, which ended on Tuesday, has made three suggestions to improve the players’ focus.

First, the players must have a ten-minute “thinking session” before returning to the field after a break. Then, the outsiders’ entry into the dressing room area should be restricted even more — this will apply to the catering staff as well. Finally, the players must set weekly goals.

“While I did interact with Sourav Ganguly and the rest in Paarl (before the 2003 World Cup) and in Brisbane (ahead of the just-ended Test series), I couldn’t really study their environment... I got that opportunity in Sydney and, having done so, made some suggestions,” Gordon, a senior lecturer in the University of Western Australia’s School of Human Movement, told The Telegraph last evening.

Speaking from Perth, he added: “The bit about fewer people getting in and out of the dressing room is because there can be distractions. Then, the ten minutes’ thing is necessary as the Indians tend to have bad sessions in succession. So, it’s important to (collectively) focus on what needs to be done... As for the goals, you should constantly have something to achieve...”

According to Gordon, coach John Wright is going to “collect” the goal-sheets and will revert if a particular player needs “guidance.” One understands the goals include physical and technical ones.

“But for the little things, I quite liked the Indians’ approach in Sydney... They were very professional... Indeed, overall, I was impressed with the dressing room culture,” Gordon pointed out. He continued: “While there are similarities with the Australians, there certainly are differences... For instance, it’s rare for Australia to have bad sessions back-to-back...”

Incidentally, Gordon was a member of the support staff when Australia won the 1999 World Cup under Steve Waugh. It was, by the way, at his suggestion that the “No Regrets Tour” theme was adopted. Last year, of course, the Indians chose “Now or Never” for their World Cup campaign — again, after a prompt from the much-in-demand psychologist.

Asked whether he specifically spoke to Sachin Tendulkar, who regained form with a career-best unbeaten 241 in the first innings, Gordon answered: “I don’t impose myself, but we did interact for a short time... I can’t go into details, as that will be unfair, but I remained convinced it was a matter of faith and patience only... Sachin himself knows what’s best for him... He definitely knows what makes him tick...”

Talking about Sourav, Gordon said: “He had to make tough decisions, about when to declare and so on, but seemed in control... What’s remarkable is that Sourav isn’t walking alone... He is asking his players to contribute and they’ve been doing that... It’s pleasing that everybody has embraced the concept of self-improvement... In any case, as I observed before the tour began, the Indians are now more accomplished tourists.”

While details haven’t been finalised, it’s likely that he will catch up with Team India during the two tri-series matches in Perth — versus Australia on February 1 and against Zimbabwe on February 3.

Meanwhile, as Gordon is working on a Board-funded project on mental toughness, he is expected to be in Bangalore around April/May. He could be in India even earlier, if a session with the umpires moves beyond the drawing board stage.

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