Mental conditioning specialist Paddy Upton to work with Indian men’s hockey team

Indian men's hockey team will have assistance of a mental conditioning expert as it prepares for the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy.

New Delhi:  The Indian men’s hockey team will have the assistance of a mental conditioning expert as it prepares for the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai and the high-stakes Hangzhou Asian Games 2023 where the team will be vying for direct Olympic qualification.

Accepting the coaching staff’s request for assistance in building up the mental toughness of the players, Hockey India has roped in South African mental conditioning expert Paddy Upton to closely work with the Indian men’s hockey team ahead of the Asian Champions Trophy and Asian Games

The 54-year-old Upton, who has worked previously with the Indian men’s cricket team in the same capacity, is scheduled to hold three-part mental conditioning sessions starting from July 1 at the ongoing national coaching camp for Indian men’s core group in SAI, Bengaluru.

“With an illustrious career in high-performance coaching, Paddy brings a wealth of experience and expertise. The Cape Town-based high-performance coach, author, speaker, and professor, has an extensive background in sports psychology and leadership coaching. With over two decades of experience working with professional athletes and teams across various sports, the 54-year-old mental conditioning coach has earned a stellar reputation for his ability to unlock the potential of individuals and foster a winning mindset within teams,” Hockey India informed in a press release on Thursday.

“I am honoured to be given this opportunity to work with Hockey India and the Indian Men’s Hockey Team. I have witnessed the tremendous growth of Indian hockey in recent years, and I am excited to contribute to the team’s success by enhancing their mental resilience and psychological skill set. Together, we will work towards achieving the highest level of performance and excellence,” said Upton about his upcoming role with the Indian men’s hockey team.

Upton played a pivotal role in leading the Indian national cricket team to victory in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, marking their first win in 28 years. He also guided the team to achieve the top spot in the Test rankings for the first time in history. His success continued as he contributed to the South African cricket team’s unprecedented achievement of simultaneously holding the World No. 1 ranking in all three formats of the game. He has also worked with numerous T20 franchises.

Besides cricket, Paddy has provided mental training workshops to the South African men’s hockey team, Australian men’s hockey team, Indian Super League (ISL) sides FC Goa and FC Hyderabad, England men’s rugby team and many other sports teams.

Expressing Hockey India’s endeavour to leave no stone unturned in helping the teams prepare for the Asian Games this year, the federation’s President Padma Shri Dr. Dilip Tirkey said, “Hockey India wanted to ensure there is absolutely nothing lacking in the team’s preparations for major tournaments this year, particularly the Asian Games in China where the Olympic qualification will be at stake. To help the team manage the pressure and expectations to perform, we felt that it was essential to invest in a mental conditioning expert.

“We are delighted to have Paddy Upton help prepare the team for mental toughness. We recognise that this is a major area that needs focus ahead of big-ticket events and we are confident that Paddy’s expertise and guidance will greatly benefit our team,” Dr Tirkey said.

Echoing Tirkey’s views, Hockey India Secretary General Bholanath Singh said, “The biggest feedback we received from the coaching staff was to improve the team’s mental toughness and we understand that pressure of living up to the expectations can be challenging to deal with. Paddy is an expert in this domain and we are excited to have him on board as the team prepares for Asian Games.”

The men’s Asian Champions Trophy will be played in Chennai from August 3-12 while the Asian Games is scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23-October 8 this year.

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