The focus should be on understanding a player’s need and working towards individual fitness goals. Where the player stands on a scale of 1 to 10 with regard to fitness needs to be determined, and then he should work upwards in coordination with the coach and the support staff. One man’s dream fitness regime is another man’s nightmare. Exercises can cross over, but load, tempo and recovery are of prime importance. And since the needs are different, the regime needs to be specific.
Any specific areas to train?
The specific area to train is the neuro- muscular coordination. It would be proactive and reactive reflex training, with hand-eye coordination and peripheral vision awareness, and how to increase the bat speed (if possible) in sync with speed, agility and quickness, along with recovery protocols and breathing techniques. That’s the need of the hour. High intensity training can be counter-productive sometimes due to the intensity of the game.
What skill sets are required for T20?
T20 is a fast-paced game, and SAQ plays an important part in this format. More than just concentrating on brute power and strength, one needs to understand the demands of each day, each match and the playing conditions and work smartly rather than work hard. Recovery becomes a very important part in this format due to the travel and match schedules. Sleep and eating pattern gets affected, so the players need to be mindful of taking care of their biorhythm.
How age plays a role in the T20 format
Age is just a number as far professional players are concerned. Don’t know why we harp on the age factor rather than the fitness factor? The best example is Roger Federer — or M. S. Dhoni, Narain Karthikeyan and Leander Paes in the Indian context — still competing at the world level with youngsters and winning.
With age comes wisdom and strategy, and the players understand their mind and body well and work in that frame of reference for the quantum leap in their performance.
Does a player need to train differently for T20?
Of course, yes. The format is different, and there are many variables like the intensity (of the game), the energy system used, duration, travel, sleep patterns, timing of the matches etc. The training for this format needs to be like that of a decathlete. Having said that, the trainers need to be very careful in the choice of exercise for different skill set, factoring in the load, intensity, tempo and recovery between each set.
How is it that players from many other countries are fit? Are they natural athletes?
There must be loads of inputs from athletes from a young age. They should play other sport though as part of cross training to benefit cricket. Some of the players’ agility and speed are really like that of the rugby, NBA or NFL players. I am sure they all work out in their own time and space to keep themselves fit and hungry for success. If we can harness their potential effectively, we would be unbeatable.
How do the IPL players maintain fitness levels?
The IPL requires a lot of travel besides playing in hot and humid weather conditions. So recovery protocols become a major issue for the players and the support staff. Physiotherapists and massage therapists have their hands full during this two months of the IPL.
The trainer’s role is to design a programme for recovery and a workout specific to individuals. Proper recovery with contrast bath, massage, stretching etc. are crucial. Active or passive recovery protocols need to be implemented. Recovery needs to be individualised and can be built along with the team-building activity too.
Hydration and proper food habits also hold the key to recovery. They also help prevent any niggles during the season.
Check urine colour or specific gravity of urine and hydrate accordingly. Proper protein and carbs intake helps in quicker recovery too.
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