The Malaysian badminton team's failure to make the final of the Thomas Cup was due to a poor mental training method said a leading sports science expert in the country Sheikh Kamaruddin Sheikh Ahmad.
The Universiti Putera Malaysia's (UPM) sports science lecturer with about 30 years experience, said based on his observation, mental training incorporated in the national squad's training was more focused on physical activities to beef up their mental strength.
"The method of exposing players under the hot sun for a lengthy period, purportedly to strengthen their mental, is more suited for army training only.
"For badminton players, we cannot inculcate strenuous physical training to beef up their mental strength. The approach towards athletes is different," said Sheikh Kamaruddin, the former Malaysian Amateur Athletics Union's coaching chairman.
The vastly experienced sports science expert said to beef up the mental strength of shuttlers, a different approach was needed, namely Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ), he said.
The Malaysian Thomas Cup squad lost to Japan in the preliminary stages but beat Denmark to make the semifinals but lost tamely 0-3 to China who eventually beat Indonesia to lift the cup for the fourth consecutive time.
He added that IQ and EQ trainings were to measure the intelligence of an individual as well as train the athlete to focus their mind on their opponents when on the court.
Sheikh Kamaruddin said without consistently 'sharpening' the mind to be active, the physical reflexes of a player would be slow and his or her reaction when under pressure or when attacked by the opponent, would not be effective because the main factor of IQ and EQ is the players emotion.
"Various forms of IQ and EQ can be practiced by players. The objective is to continue sharpening their intelligence and train the mind to be focused. For example, reading the opponents strategy and where he was going to place the shuttle, will give them an edge to react quickly to make the 'kill' to earn points," he said.
Sheikh Kamaruddin said when world number one Datuk Lee Chong Wei and 2008 Beijing Olympics winner, Lin Dan met, it was clear that the Malaysian failed to control his mindset, resulting in the Chinese player easily taking charge of the situation.
"Maybe Chong Wei was cautious and uncertain whether he would be able to beat Lin Dan whom he had not played for about six months, and maintain his status as the world number one in front of the home crowd.
"His own confusion saw Chong Wei losing his focus while his pre-match strategy and game plan were shattered. When a player is confused and overcome by emotion, his game plan will also suffer a similar fate," he said.
The best way for shuttlers to beef up their mental strength was to have a clear focus and free the mind for any outside influence but stick to the coach's strategy for the match.
He added that psychology experts engaged to beef up the mental strength f players must also be a person with authority to have an influence over the players.
For the record, national shuttlers had undergone a three-day team building and motivational camp in Port Dickson, as part of their preparation for the Thomas and Uber Cup final. - Bernama.