Coaches and trainers around the world have been sweating over avenues to keep athletes in shape during the forced break arising out of the coronavirus pandemic. But for motivational coach Mike Horn, this period will be more of a “mental battle” which the players will have to overcome.
The Johannesburg-born 53-year-old explorer, who worked with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team during their successful 2011 World Cup campaign and champions Germany in the 2014 football World Cup, is utilising the opportunity to spend time with his family at home in Château d’Oex, Switzerland.
“Talent and skills can quickly be trained if the mental aspect is well conditioned. That’s why I see this period more as a mental than a physical battle. This time needs to be used to strengthen the mental part in order to be in the best shape to later train the physical,” Horn told The Telegraph.
Having worked with the Dhonis and Kolkata Knight Riders for a couple of seasons, Horn is well versed with the mental and physical attributes of a professional cricketer. For him Dhoni is a man “who leads by example” while Virat Kohli is an “amazing individual”.
“As a professional cricketer, this present situation gives us time to break our intense training habits and focus on different activities. This imposed break is an opportunity for us to be better prepared when the world opens up again. It also gives those who have suffered injuries, time to recover.
“We are all in the same boat, we are all being affected by this situation in one way or another. The positive side is that we will all come out of this on equal playing fields,” he said.
The Indian cricketers have been playing non-stop and Horn believes this “break should be embraced”.
“In any case, we should not tire over things we cannot change. Accepting the situation and making the most of it is the best way forward. This is a moment where any professional athlete should take time off, no matter the domain. Embrace it, you deserve it,” is Horn’s advice.
“I would simply recommend enjoying yourself, going with the flow, spending time with loved ones. Do not let the negative aspects of this situation weigh down on you.
“Use this time to your advantage and try do a little bit more than your competitors in physical and mental preparation so you will have an advantage when you go back to routine work.”
Horn though thinks “too much fear and doubt” has been created in the minds of people and “messages of courage and hope” are needed.
“I believe we have to respect what the governments are asking from us. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with the way things are being done and all the measures that are being taken.
“In my opinion, too much fear and doubt has been created, perhaps as a means to better control people! I think we could have made more space for messages of courage and hope in order to give people more tools to build their mental strength in these difficult times.”
Confined to his home for the past month or so, he’s loving the atmosphere.
“I am lucky to be confined at home in a space that I love being in, completely surrounded by nature. This period of confinement and social distancing comes at a perfect moment for me, just after my North Pole crossing expedition, which I finished in January.
“Here, confined in my home, I can close the front door, light up the fire place, I have food in my fridge, a bed to sleep in, running water to bathe in… this is luxury and I am enjoying every single second of it! This is a time for me to reflect, be creative, spend time with my family, plan my future adventures and projects and this makes me excited for what is yet to come.'
Horn’s North Pole expedition, the second phase of his “Pole2Pole” adventure after the solo crossing of the Antarctic in 2017, has been as exciting and adventurous as past sojourns. He lives true to his “No limits' motto in life.
“In December 2019, I completed the crossing of the Arctic via the North Pole with my friend and expedition partner Borge Ousland. This adventure took us 88 days, 57 of which were spent in total darkness. We left with my sailing boat from Nome in Alaska, sailed through the Bering Strait and as far north as possible into the Arctic Ocean until the ice stopped us.
“Once we reached a satisfying position, Borge and I jumped off the boat and started our traverse. This adventure was definitely one of the most challenging that I have ever undertaken. Although Borge and I had each other, this challenge pushed us to the limits. Nature put us to the ultimate test.
“The changes in the climate and the warming temperatures resulted in much thinner and fragile ice, faster moving ocean drifts and increased open water stretches… All of these made us progress a lot slower than originally expected but we never stopped trying and kept on fighting until we made it to the other side and back home to our loved ones,” Horn said.