“Treat Athletes like humans, not medal-winning robots,” Olympian Abhinav Bindra

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Olympic gold-medallist shooter, Abhinav Bindra has made a significant plea to the sports ecosystem: to treat athletes as human beings, not as medal-winning robots. This call comes at a time when Indian athletes have been achieving remarkable success in major international competitions, including the Olympics, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games.

Abhinav Bindra’s message to Sports Psychologists

The recent successes have undoubtedly elevated the stature of sports personalities. However, this success has also intensified the pressure of expectations placed on them. Bindra, who secured the 10m air rifle gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, emphasized the significance of mental well-being. He noted that this aspect is crucial not only for athletes but also for coaches.

“The first and foremost job is to treat athletes as human beings and not to keep conditioning them as medal-winning robots,” Bindra said in a virtual interaction with sports psychologists at the Karni Singh Shooting Range. He stressed the importance of sports psychologists exhibiting patience while working with athletes.

Bindra further urged sports psychologists to refrain from evaluating athletes, particularly shooters, solely based on their performance in the previous Olympics in Tokyo. Instead, he emphasized the importance of assessing them based on their current situation and circumstances.

“The shooters who competed in the Tokyo Olympics and the shooters who will be competing in Paris will have gone through a sea change in their mindsets. The athletes should be psychologically assessed on how they are at the now, not how they were four years ago. It is essential to evolve as sports psychologists as per the athletes’ evolution,” said Bindra.

Shedding light on how coaches can become more attuned to sports science, Bindra said the experts need to embrace change with an open mind. “This is a transition period and there will be coaches who are guarded and not welcoming of sports science methods. But it all comes down to trust. It is imperative we make them understand psychology, technological advancements, physiology and other aspects of sports science through clinics.

“For example, having a mental well-being workshop for the coaches will make them happier and start to appreciate their roles more. This breaks a lot of barriers and makes them more open to embracing sports science. It will not be so much of a foreign concept to them anymore,” Bindra said.

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