Physical fitness is hardly a concern but the lack of any competitive action has been hard to handle, said veteran table tennis player Anthony Amalraj as he reflected on how he has coped with the coronavirus-forced lockdown, helped by a hypnotherapist he engaged in 2011.

The country’s No. 4 player is keen to make sure that he remains positive during these testing times so that frustration doesn’t get to him and helping his cause is city-based hypnotherapist TK Vadivel Pillai.

“It is important to stay physically fit...It is even more important to remain mentally fit and in a positive frame of mind as sportspersons can get frustrated due to lack of activity,” Amalraj told PTI.

“I am aware of the need to stay positive and have been working with Vadivel Pillai, who conducts classes via video call. It has been a great help and keeps me motivated,” he added.

Amalraj, who is ranked 100th internationally and is behind A Sharath Kamal (No. 31), G Sathiyan (No.
32) and Harmeet Desai (No. 72), was chasing the dream of playing in the Olympics after a team gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

However, the coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the sporting world, has put also his plans on hold.

“It is difficult to be not playing now. But it has happened due to the coronavirus, which has brought the world to a standstill. It is important that we stay home and help fight the disease. Though I am not at the table playing, I am practising mentally,” the 34-year old Amalraj added.

“Once I get back to the table, I am confident I will regain the rhythm in a matter of a few days,” he added.

Amalraj then spoke about his long-standing association with Pillai.

“I used to lose matches from winning positions. I used to get overexcited and this led to me losing when I should have been winning,” recalled Amalraj.

It was then that he met Pillai through a friend

“My game was good but I wasn’t mentally strong so I was faltering against top players. Vadivel Pillai advised me on how to approach matches against different players,” he said.

“Working with him brought about a change in my career and I began to beat the big names more often,” Amalraj said, recalling the 2011 national title, which he claimed after beating the seasoned Sharath Kamal no less.

Right now, Amalraj said Pillai is helping him stay motivated and focussed.

Pillai, on his part, explained the science behind hypnotherapy.

...by relaxing the body and the mind, one can access the subconscious mind.

It is in this subconscious mind that new thoughts and beliefs of successfully achieving goals are sown,” he explained.

“...by a process of repetition it starts to manifest outside as new thought patterns, actions and behaviours come about in their life,” he added.

Amalraj enjoyed a good start to 2020 and was keen to rise up the rankings after breaking into the top-100 before the pandemic halted his progress.

“I did well in the Qatar Open where I was the only Indian to come through the qualifying phase,” he pointed out.

Pillais aid with Amalraj, his focus is primarily on keeping a check on negative thoughts.

“It is tough for professional sportspersons to keep themselves physically and mentally fit during such a break. My training helps Amalraj remove all the negative thoughts, fear and anxiety in the sub-conscious mind,” he said.