THE MAN IN IN­DIAN SPORTS PSY­CHOL­OGY

A Trib­ute to Bhish­maraj Bam.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Purn­ima Parkhi

An­jali Bhag­wat, is a name in ri­fle shoot­ing that be­came the World Num­ber One in 10me­tre air ri­fle shoot­ing in 2002 and also won her first World Cup fi­nal in Mi­lan in 2003 ! Suma Shirur had struck a rough patch just be­fore the qual­i­fi­ca­tion dead­line for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Then at the Asian Cham­pi­onships in Kuala Lumpur, Suma shot a per­fect score of 400 to win gold. Thus fol­lows the suc­cess of the trio – An­jali Bhag­wat, Suma Shirur and Deepali Desh­pande in ri­fle shoot­ing! The se­ries of suc­cesses con­tin­ues in the case of top bad­minton stars, P. Gopic­hand, Aparna Popat; crick­eters Rahul Dravid, Sachin Ten­dulkar, Jatin Paran­jape … ten­nis play­ers; Harsh Mankad, Gau­rav Natekar; golf play­ers, ath­letes and many oth­ers. The list does not end here, th­ese play­ers won na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ac­claim.

Dif­fer­ent games have dif­fer­ent chal­lenges… For ex­am­ple: sail­ing is a game of con­tin­u­ous ac­tiv­ity with­out any break and golf is an ex­actly op­po­site game with long breaks in be­tween two shots. Ten­nis play­ers will think more about the scores while play­ing than the ball which they have to deal with. There are chal­lenges of the game of chess, which need fo­cus and self­talk. Also chal­lenges faced by sportsper­sons need not al­ways be pro­fes­sional in na­ture. Peak per­for­mance of any sportsper­son is an amal­ga­ma­tion of phys­i­cal and men­tal skills.

The hu­man mind tends to get fo­cused on temp­ta­tions rather than the re­quired choice of fo­cus. Most of the play­ers get awed by the rep­u­ta­tion of their op­po­nents or by the form ex­hib­ited. Con­trol­ling thoughts and moods is an es­sen­tial fac­tor and the player has to train him­self or her­self for that.

THE RISE OF SPORTS PSY­CHOL­OGY

While sport­ing coun­tries like Aus­tralia and the US have a psy­chol­o­gist on board for every team, es­pe­cially dur­ing ma­jor events like The Olympics, we have a few psy­chol­o­gists at­tached to the en­tire In­dian con­tin­gent. None of the sportsper­sons in In­dia have un­der­stood bet­ter about the pow­ers of the hu­man mind than the shoot­ers whose rich haul over the years has proved to be an eye­opener for their coun­ter­parts.

A sports psy­chol­o­gist can in­flu­ence the en­tire thought process of a sportsper­son and help them cope with pres­sure at im­por­tant stages of a match or a tour­na­ment. Gen­er­ally, ath­letes find them­selves weaker than the op­po­nents. But af­ter go­ing through “men­tal train­ing”, they are all so calm and men­tally strong! In­dian sportsper­sons have started de­mand­ing sport psy­chol­o­gists for their na­tional squads.

There was a time when sports psy­chol­ogy was still an alien con­cept in In­dia. And one name that linked with all sports-play­ers and coaches, was “Bhish­maraj Bam, Sports Psy­chol­o­gist”. The sci­ence of con­trol­ling mind is “Manas-shas­tra” and it was com­piled by the great sage Patan­jali in his pop­u­lar work called Yoga Dar­shan in which he has rec­om­mended the eight-fold path for at­tain­ing com­plete con­trol over the mind. This rich cul­tural her­itage has not only been stud­ied in great de­tail but also prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions in our day to day lives have been rec­om­mended by the late Bhish­maraj Bam. His fo­cus on ‘strength­en­ing the mind’ ac­tu­ally paid off and he be­came pop­u­larly known as “Bam Sir”! As the joint

di­rec­tor – in­tel­li­gence bureau and as a sportsper­son.

Bhish­marah Bam was born on 1 Oc­to­ber 1938 to Pu­rushot­tam and Uma Bam in the Nizam State of Hy­der­abad. As a stu­dent, he ex­celled at aca­demics. Af­ter clear­ing MPSC exam, Bam joined the po­lice force in June 1963 and his ca­reer as a po­lice of­fi­cer spanned from April 1973 to Fe­bru­ary 1982. He was the su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice and from there moved to the In­tel­li­gence Bureau. He had a suc­cess­ful po­lice ca­reer and ex­celled at crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion, se­cu­rity – cit­i­zens, per­son­nel, in­for­ma­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion, Use of fine arms – prac­ti­cal shoot­ing and com­bat shoot­ing, hu­man re­sources de­vel­op­ment and cri­sis han­dling. He served at the In­tel­li­gence Bureau from June 1982 both in Mum­bai and New Delhi in ca­pac­i­ties as an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor, deputy di­rec­tor and till his re­tire­ment from ser­vice as the joint di­rec­tor – In­tel­li­gence Bureau (a post equiv­a­lent to that of in­spec­tor gen­eral of po­lice) in Oc­to­ber 1996.

Bam was a dec­o­rated po­lice of­fi­cer and his ex­em­plary con­tri­bu­tions were recog­nised and he was con­ferred awards like In­dian po­lice medal for mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice in 1991, Pres­i­dent’s po­lice medal in 1996 and Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji award by the Gov­ern­ment of Ma­ha­rash­tra for con­tri­bu­tion in the field of sports pro­mo­tion in 1996. Bam moved in the top power cir­cuit, from Prime Min­is­ter Indira Gandhi’s se­cu­rity struc­ture to RAW, from reg­u­lar uni­formed po­lice ser­vice to un­der­cover op­er­a­tions. He worked, di­rectly, with as many as five Prime Min­is­ters, all of whom trusted him for his in­tegrity and in­tel­li­gence. His ad­vice was al­ways, free and fair, with­out fear or mal­ice. Av­inash Dhar­mad­hikari worked as an as­so­ciate of Bam dur­ing his IAS days.

Bam’s in­ter­est in sports re­mained an in­te­gral part of his po­lice ca­reer where he won many medals at the po­lice games, at the Ma­ha­rash­tra State Cham­pi­onships as well as Na­tional Cham­pi­onships. He cap­tained the state po­lice teams at the na­tional level com­pe­ti­tions and de­vised spe­cial train­ing cour­ses

A SPORTS PSY­CHOL­O­GIST CAN IN­FLU­ENCE THE EN­TIRE THOUGHT PROCESS OF SPORTSPER­SON AND HELP THEM COPE WITH PRES­SURE AT IM­POR­TANT STAGES OF A MATCH OR A TOUR­NA­MENT. GEN­ER­ALLY, ATH­LETES FIND THEM­SELVES WEAKER THAN THE OP­PO­NENTS.

for po­lice of­fi­cers as well as the staff and trained the team. He was a qual­i­fied ri­fle and pis­tol shoot­ing coach and as­sisted the Gov­ern­ment of Ma­ha­rash­tra in the ex­per­i­ment of Kreeda Prab­ho­dini where he trained tar­get shoot­ers to be­come na­tional and in­ter­na­tional cham­pi­ons. He was good at bil­liards and snooker as well.

AS SPORTS PSY­CHOL­O­GIST

In the early 1980s, when he was re­cov­er­ing from a se­vere slipped disc at­tack and was con­fined to bed-rest for al­most six months, his shoot­ing coach, Capt Solomon Eziekel in­tro­duced him to the con­cept of men­tal train­ing and gave him books writ­ten by au­thors from across the world. He read all of them and com­bined that knowl­edge with his deep study of In­dian phi­los­o­phy and cre­ated his unique method of men­tal train­ing en­com­pass­ing ‘tech­niques of vi­su­al­i­sa­tion’, ‘the cir­cle of ex­cel­lence’ and ‘yoga nyas’.

Given his back­ground of be­ing a great sports­man him­self, he was able to merge the con­cepts of men­tal train­ing with the crit­i­cal el­e­ments of each sport. Thus was

born “a sports psy­chol­o­gist”. He then started train­ing the shoot­ing team to pro­vide the men­tal strength re­quired to cope with match pres­sure and thus bring out one’s best per­for­mance. He was lov­ingly called “God­fa­ther” of In­dian Shoot­ers.

Bam then ex­tended his train­ing to thou­sands of sports­men across dis­ci­plines such as bil­liards, snooker, bad­minton, ta­ble ten­nis, swim­ming, cricket, ten­nis, golf etc since then and was re­garded as one of the fore­most sports psy­chol­o­gists and mo­ti­va­tors in In­dia.

In the world of cricket, he helped a well-known crick­ter Rahul Dravid and turned him into a world-class player. In the 2000 Com­mon­wealth Games, An­jali Bhag­wat re­ceived the gold medal be­cause of his guid­ance. Kavita Raut, the in­ter­na­tional ath­lete of Nashik, got the sup­port of Bam’s guid­ance. He also coun­selled and coached sports play­ers Sachin Ten­dulkar, Jas­pal Rana, Suma Shirur, P.gopic­hand, Ashok Pan­dit, Ga­gan Narang, Mon­ali Gorhe, P Gopic­hand and Aparna Popat to name a few, won na­tional as well as in­ter­na­tional ac­claim. To­day they are in turn re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing other great sportsper­sons. Th­ese sportsper­sons have won medals, es­tab­lished records and won ac­co­lades for In­dia at the re­cently con­cluded 2018 Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games.

Bam trained the Ma­ha­rash­tra moun­taineer­ing team on the suc­cess­ful Ever­est ex­pe­di­tion of 1998. He also trained the Mum­bai and Kar­nataka Ranji Tro­phy teams, con­ducted train­ings and work­shops for na­tional and elite panel um­pires for bud­ding ten­nis play­ers at the

BAM WAS IN THE FORE­FRONT OF THE PRO­MO­TION OF SHOOT­ING AS A SPORT AND DE­VEL­OP­ING SHOOT­ERS FOR IN­TER­NA­TIONAL EVENTS. HE WAS THE SO­CIAL SPORTS PSY­CHOL­O­GIST FOR THE IN­DIAN SHOOT­ING TEAM AT THE 2010 NEW DELHI COM­MON­WEALTH GAMES AND THE OLYMPIC PROB­A­BLES IN SHOOT­ING.

Ma­ha­rash­tra State Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion. He has been the of­fi­cial sports psy­chol­o­gist for the Prakash Padukone Academy.

Bam was in the fore­front for the pro­mo­tion of shoot­ing as a sport and de­vel­op­ing shoot­ers for In­ter­na­tional events. He was the so­cial sports psy­chol­o­gist for the In­dian shoot­ing team at the 2010 New Delhi com­mon­wealth games and the Olympic prob­a­bles in shoot­ing. He was in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing many shoot­ing ranges and in­tro­duc­ing new shoot­ers to the game of shoot­ing.

His jour­ney as a “sports psy­chol­o­gist” also made him a “coun­sel­lor for peo­ple from all walks of life” and that in­cluded peo­ple from housewives to de­jected lovers to cor­po­rate heads to peo­ple from the film In­dus­try like Mr Dilip Prab­havalkar (who played Gand­hiji in Lage Raho Munna Bhai), Supriya Pil­gaonkar to singers like Pad­maja Jo­galekar Pad­mashri to se­nior jour­nal­ists. He had been coun­sel­lor to many pa­tients who lost hopes to live. Pa­tients were ac­tu­ally cured from their dis­eases and started liv­ing life hap­pily with new hopes. Bam be­ing an ex­pert sur­geon of the mind, would ac­tu­ally en­hance the body and spirit by con­duct­ing a psy­cho­log­i­cal surgery.

Bam wanted to spread the mes­sage of yoga as enun­ci­ated by Patan­jali in his yoga Su­tras so that so­ci­ety would ben­e­fit as a whole. He was de­liv­er­ing lec­ture on yoga on 12 May 2017 at the Se­nior Cit­i­zens Fo­rum when he passed away due to car­diac ar­rest and breathed his last whilst do­ing some­thing that he truly loved. We must try to learn from his be­havioural traits like hu­mil­ity, sim­plic­ity, orig­i­nal­ity and cre­ativ­ity and in­grain them within us. That would be per­fect trib­ute to In­dia’s “sports psy­chol­o­gist” Bhish­maraj Bam, who led a mul­ti­fac­eted ex­em­plary life, that re­mains a source of in­spi­ra­tion to count­less !

( Cour­tesy: Shri Ajit Bam, Son)

A dream is a scrip­ture, and many scrip­tures are noth­ing but dreams.

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