Conceding late goals by a fragile backline has been Indian’s men hockey team’s perennial bane which new chief coach Paul van Ass wants to eradicate by roping in a full-time psychologist for Sardar Singh and Co.
In the recently-concluded 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, India conceded late goals in its first three matches to go out of the title reckoning but recovered in time to eventually bag the bronze medal in the prestigious six-nation tournament.
And India’s new coach Van Ass said that he was fully aware about the leaky Indian defence before taking over the charge of the team from Australian Terry Walsh.
“What worries me is the defence. The defence was a cause of concern for me even before I came to India. Our defence is too bad. I think we lost a lot of games in the end phase earlier as well as in this tournament,”said Van Ass.
For Van Ass, it’s all in the mind and it can be sorted. “It’s all in the mind. The players tend to relax at times and that’s when they committ mistakes.”
Asked if a session or two with a professional psychologist will do a wonder for his wards, the chief coach
said: “I am open to the idea. It is something which I have in my mind. But I will take a call on it as I go through the videos of our Azlan Shah matches and critically analyse the show by our boys.”
In the past as well, India’s foreign coaches Jose Brasa and Michael Nobbs had called on the need to appoint a psychologist with the team.
In fact, during Nobb’s tenure Dr Chaitanya Sridhar, a Bangalore-based psychologist and a former Sports Authority of India (SAI) employee, had briefly worked with the team.
A member of the coaching staff also agrred with Van Ass but said it is for the SAI and Hockey India to take ca final call on the matter.
“Any sort of help is always welcome. We can only give our recommendations but ultimately it is HI and SAI who has to take the final call,” he said.
A senior player of the national team also aired the same feeling. “Yes, the coach is right. It’s all in the mind. Our habit is that we tend to relax sometimes and that eventually cost us dearly,” he said.”During Brasa we had a few sessions with a psychologist and that was really helpful.”