Former mental conditioning coach of team India, Paddy Upton has said that Gautam Gambhir was “mentally the most insecure” but that didn’t deter him from becoming one of India’s most successful batsmen.
In his book ‘The Barefoot Coach’, Upton discussed the myth of mental toughness of elite sportsperson and how they react to situations.
I did some of my best and least effective mental conditioning work with Gautam Gambhir, the International Test Cricketer of the Year’ in 2009. I worked with him up until that time but I had little to do with him being named world’s best cricketer,” Upton writes in his book.
Upton recalled how the left-handed opener would be in “agony” even after scoring a hundred and stressing more on the mistakes he might have made.
“Let’s say his range was 20 to 40 with 30 being normal. When he scored 150, he would be disappointed in not scoring 200.” Upton wrote that no matter what he and then coach Gary Kirsten did Gambhir was “negative and pessimistic.” Upton then explained the contradiction and myth associated with mental toughness.
“Using popular notion of mental toughness, he was one of the weakest and mentally most insecure’ people I have worked with.
“But at the same time, he was undoubtedly one of the best and most determined and successful Test batsmen in the world. Something he would prove yet again in 2011 World Cup final.” Upton then explained that positive self talk, which is “a pillar or sub-component of mental toughness — It would work for about 50 percent of them, those who are lucky enough to be wired on the optimistic side of the scale.”
Gambhir’s response was, “I wanted myself and Indian team to be the best in the world. That’s why I was not satisfied even after scoring 100 as it has been mentioned in Paddy’s book. I see nothing wrong there. As a driven individual I have tried to raise the bar for myself alone.”
In the same chapter, Upton wrote about former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s “incredible emotional control”. (with inputs from Hindustan Times)