Indian hockey teams turn tech-savvy during lockdown

ST Correspondent
Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Despite training on the ground being disallowed for almost two months now, the teams kept their spirits up. They took to indoor workout regimes to maintain their fitness.

Pune: As the nationwide lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic was imposed in March, the Indian men's and women's hockey teams were forced to stay put in the Sports Authority of India Centre in Bengaluru where they were training.

Despite training on the ground being disallowed for almost two months now, the teams kept their spirits up. They took to indoor workout regimes to maintain their fitness. Along with that, they also made the best use of technology to gain maximum output out of their training sessions.

The coaching staff are also based out of the same facility. However, with the need of social distancing norms still to be followed, the teams turned to applications that would help distribute workout schedules daily to all team members and every player used these applications to submit their workload to the respective coaches and trainers.

The use of applications such as Google Docs and Google Forms by the players to submit their training data and information to the coaches increased during the lockdown.

Speaking about the same, Savita, vice-captain of the Indian Women's Team, said, "Earlier, these apps were mostly used by Coaching Staff to plan the week's activities and share it with us. But during the lockdown, with social distancing norms in place at SAI, using Google docs for wellness data submission and Google forms for training load submissions became mandatory to update what we had done during the day and this would further be discussed through a video call with a chief coach or our scientific advisor."

In the social distancing era, applications like Zoom call or Google Meet have also been widely used by sports team across the world to replace physical team meetings.

"Though our support staff is based on the same campus, we use Zoom calls for individual meetings where we discuss our nutrition intake and also discuss match analysis. We are now used to apps like Google Meet platform which we use for team meetings as all of us can't get into a huddle in the meeting room anymore," said Harmanpreet Singh, vice-captain of the men's side.

Harmanpreet also said that the teams had learned something new during the lockdown, adding, "I feel we made use of this time by learning something new. Most of us in the team are gadget freaks no doubt and enjoy using social media platforms to stay in touch with our family, friends and also fans. But using these applications on an everyday basis was something we never did."

During the lockdown, the Indian players were given the task of analysing key matches played over the last two years, to learn from the same and implement their learnings for future games. For this purpose, the teams widely used the TPA (Team Performance Analysis) software, which they have been using since 2017 at the behest of Cheif Coach Sjoerd Marijne.

"I think we made maximum use of this software during the lockdown, and each one of us was asked to study the opponents we personally thought are the toughest. This was one of the most important activity we undertook during the lockdown," added Savita.

While the teams await further guidelines and SOP from the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and SAI to resume hockey training, the players are well-prepared to return to the pitch, according to Harmanpreet.

"I think regularly analysing our performance, both individually and as a team, has given us more clarity on the areas we need to improve and we have discussed at length about the same with the coaching staff. With regular bodyweight training and indoor workouts, I believe we have been able to maintain a good fitness level, and we are ready to return to full training," expressed Harmanpreet. 

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