CHENNAI: His ice cool demeanour is the stuff of legends but former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has no qualms conceding that he is not immune to pressure and fear.
Dhoni, lending support to MFORE -- an initiative offering mind conditioning programs to achieve peak performance in sports --, offered his perspective on the issue of mental health.
"In India, I feel there is still a big issue of accepting that there is some weakness when it comes to the mental aspects, but we generally term it as mental illness," Dhoni was quoted as saying in a press release issued by MFORE.
MFORE stated that Dhoni made these comments while speaking to coaches from various sports during an interaction, which was organised before the country went into a lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Nobody really says that, when I go to bat, the first 5 to 10 deliveries my heart rate is elevated, I feel the pressure, I feel a bit scared because that's how everybody feels - how to cope with that?" the World Cup-winning icon asked.
"This is a small problem but a lot of times we hesitate to say it to a coach and that's why the relationship between a player and coach is very important be it any sport," said Dhoni, who hasn't played any international cricket since India's World Cup semifinal exit last July.
Highlighting the importance of a mental conditioning coach, Dhoni said: "Mental conditioning coach should not be the one who comes for 15 days, because when you come for 15 days you are only sharing the experience.
"If the mental conditioning coach is constantly with the player, he can understand what are the areas which are affecting his sport," Dhoni, who led Chennai Super Kings captain to three IPL titles, said.
India skipper Virat Kohli was quoted as saying that mental clarity was important in life.
"I think mental health and mental clarity is the most important factor in life; not just in sports," he said.
MFORE has been founded by former Indian batsman S Badrinath and Saravana Kumar.
Star Sports 1 Tamil is set to launch a show 'Mind Masters by MFORE' on May 10, where besides Dhoni, Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin along with others will share their thoughts on mind conditioning and mind skills in sports.