Form is temporary, class is permanent. This is a very old saying. Sports are one area where it is used the most. It is as if the sports fraternity has a monopoly over this word.
The reason for this is quite clear to us, and thus, I will not waste my time explaining it.
I think we also agree that the statement's truth hasn't rusted over the years. It still shines bright.
The reason for this is quite clear too. We all know that losing form is a part of sports and there is almost no way of escaping it. Of course, we get really upset when our favourite player goes through this period, and we really get angry with him but still somewhere inside us we all know that it has to happen some day.
Now, moving on from the well established fact that almost all the players in this world (I say almost to be on the safer side and not encounter any person who would look to point out an exception) lose form at some point in their career, let's look at why a person loses form.
There can be plenty of reasons for this: arrogance, a technical error creeping in, your body tiring as it is getting overworked, just plane and simple anxiety about the fact whether or not you would be able to continue your purple patch etc.
All these points have another link between them. Confidence or rather the loss of it.
Arrogance may be the resultant shield against the thoughts a player sometimes gets. Thoughts about whether he is good enough to continue to face the other top level guys. This may come irrespective of his form. It may just be a random thought that somehow entered his/her mind and seeded itself.
Faults in technique may also arise as a result of trying to correct yourself too much. Because of these very thoughts. Over working your body is may very well be for this reason too.
These last two paragraphs show the anxiety I talked about earlier in the article. So that covers all the points
Of course, bad form can also be a result of aging and your reflexes slowing down which has very little to do with confidence. But all bad patches do not start due to aging.
Something that you must have noticed by now is that loss of form and loss of confidence both lead to one another.
So this raises the question which my head keeps on asking me. Which is lost first—form or confidence?
Some will tell me that it varies from case to case. Some of the others will tell me that it is a mixture of both that puts the player through that lean patch from where recovering is very difficult.
But how can we just accept these answers without thinking about them. Even if they are true, we have to think.
I know I might be doing a futile exercise here. As it doesn't really matter. We cannot stop this process. But then the fact remains, how are we to continue thinking about sports in more than just physical terms if we do not ask these questions?
The one argument in to prove that form is lost first is simply the fact that these lean patches are a phenomenon only professionals deal with. When we play cricket, tennis, golf, football, rugby, baseball, or any other game with our friends just for fun, there is no concept of form. We just play, some days well, some days badly. But neither state is consistent.
But the counter argument to this is that there is no concept of confidence either. The whole thing is for fun and you depend very much on your luck. There is not anxiety.
Another area where this dilemma is very interestingly projected, is when a player performs very well at the lower levels and reaches the top level. And here he performs very badly.
Is it the fact that he was so overwhelmed by the enormity of the level he was playing at or was it just that his level of form was only good for the lower levels? There are varying levels of form depending on your capability and your talent.
Taking another turn, we can come to the point when the players recover from this period of low output. Here as well, what returns first—form or confidence?
I know with each and every step, the main road is dividing just like the aorta divides into capillaries inside our body. But let's not forget these capillaries join back and form the Vena Cava.
All the debate here is so complex that it makes me feel that the two words in question have almost the same meaning. But I suspect it is more because we think of it like that rather than it being like that. But I do not rule out the possibility that it is true.
I think this has to be debated and reactions have to come. And maybe then we reach a conclusion that may just work for some time.
So one again, I open a can of worms. On which I am thinking and hope that you all think too.
Let's try and figure our way out of this puzzle and understand this psychological part part of sports.