SPORTS COLUMN: Holistic therapies have big part to play in top level sport

Crispin Andrews
Crispin Andrews

Last week, Australian batsman, Chris Rogers, told me that before this year’s Ashes, he visualised himself as Allan Border, scoring a century for the Aussies against England.

Border, Rogers’ hero growing up, had experience, determination and could handle the pressure. All the qualities Rogers wanted to bring with him into the Australian cricket team. After a lean start, Rogers scored his first Test 100 in the fourth Test at Durham.

Now aged 36 Rogers is established as Australia’s Test opener. For a couple of seasons at least.

Many top sports stars use visualisation to improve their performance, as part of their pre-match routine.

“Think as if you’re out there, as your hero, achieving the objective you’ve set yourself,” says Julie Fenn, a holistic therapist from Aylesbury.

“Think not about what is, now, but what you want it to be like. You know your hero’s style, body language, attitude and confidence. Act as if you are them, performing at their very best.”

Doing this sort of thing, during Victorian times, would very likely have seen you cast out of Heaven, or at very least, out of polite society. Three hundred years ago you’d have most likely been burnt for being a witch.

Today, people are a bit more broad-minded about their health and welfare, and there are lots of holistic therapists around these days.

They use Reiki, kinesiology, hypnotherapy, meditation and many other alternative therapies to help people overcome physical, mental and spiritual problems.

Monty Panesar went into a downward spiral after his wife left him, earlier this year.

He was then dropped from the England team and released by Sussex.

David Warner lost his rag and punched Joe Root. Simon Kerrigan folded under pressure at the Oval. Michael Clarke was frustrated after umpires went off for bad light at Old Trafford, when Australia was trying to set England a total.

“Monty might think about what opportunities being dropped might offer him, rather than looking only at the negatives,” Julie says.

“Time away from cricket to focus on himself. Time to recover mentally and emotionally.”

She adds that anger is usually a symptom of fear, or lack of empowerment.

“When someone lashes out angrily, it’s usually because the situation highlights a weakness of theirs,” she says.

“The trick is to find out what it is and release it.”

For Kerrigan’s stage fright and Clarke’s frustration, Julie recommends staying in the now-moment. “Think about this ball now, not what might be or could be, as a result of what’s just gone wrong,” she said.

“Affirm that the next ball will be different; don’t worry about how much time you haven’t got left to achieve what you want, just keep telling yourself you can still do it.”

A month ago, Kevin Pietersen tweeted: ‘If you are happy, happiness will come to you because happiness wants to be where happiness is’.

Julie Fenn thinks KP is training his emotions so he leads them, rather than them leading him.

“Focus on what’s good, put that out there, and you’ll get it back,” she said.

“Let go of the negative cycles, you really can re-program yourself.”

Last month Pietersen had an acupuncture treatment. It’s not just hippies and new agers who buy into all of this.

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l Crispin Andrews is an Aylesbury-based writer and journalist.

He writes for the Cricketer, Four Four Two, Inside Cricket, Readers Digest, Flipside and Engineering and Technology Magazine.

He has played cricket locally for 25 years, including stints at Aylesbury Town, Tring Park, Dinton & Buckingham Town.

l Julie Fenn is an Aylesbury based Reiki healer and trainer. She writes for Kindred Spirit Magazine