MS Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni Image Credit: AFP

Former India skipper MS Dhoni says cricket players are reluctant to accept mental illness is a very real issue in the sport and a mental conditioning coach should constantly be with the team.

“In India, I feel there is still a big issue of accepting that there is some weakness when it comes to the mental aspects, but we generally term it as mental illness,” Dhoni said while sharing his experiences with top coaches from various sports, including cricket, volleyball, tennis and golf in a session conducted by MFORE.

“Nobody really says that, when I go to bat, the first five to 10 deliveries my heart rate is elevated, I feel the pressure, I feel a bit scared because that’s how everybody feels - how to cope with that?

“This is a small problem but a lot of times we hesitate to say it to a coach and that’s why the relationship between a player and coach is very important be it any sport.”

The 38-year-old added: “The mental conditioning coach should not be the one who comes for 15 days, because when you come for 15 days, you are only sharing the experience.”

“If the mental conditioning coach is constantly with the player, he can understand what are the areas which are affecting his sport.”

Speaking on how players can overcome difficult situations through mind skill training, current India skipper Virat Kohli said: “I think mental health and mental clarity is the most important factor in life; not just in sports.”

MFORE is a non-proft initiative launched by former Indian batsman S Badrinath alongwith Saravana Kumar aimed at offering mind conditioning programs to achieve peak performance in sports.