National hockey team coaches don't want to rush sporting activities

Indian men's and women's national teams' coaches Graham Reid and Sjoerd Marijne also stressed on being patient with the players’ fitness as they resumed training after a long time.

File photo of Graham Reid with S.V. Sunil during a training session at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Indian men's and women's national teams' coaches Graham Reid and Sjoerd Marijne stressed on being patient with the players’ fitness as they resumed training after a long time away from the pitch. The national team players have returned to the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru in August for the national camp after a month-long break and are going through basic skill development.

"Most of the coaches have huge expectations from the players and push them too hard in training which could lead to injuries. If you look at competitions like the Bundesliga, Premier League and NFL where they had several hamstring and ligament injuries," Marjine said during the Hockey India webinar on Saturday.

Men’s team coach Graham Reid concurred with Marijne as six men’s team players, including captain Manpreet Singh, have recently recovered from COVID-19 and are on the road to regain their full fitness.

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“I can say that the players (who recovered from the virus) are doing well and are a little behind the others in getting back to fitness. It’s necessary not to rush into sporting activities,” Reid said.

India will not play international hockey for the remainder of 2020, after the men’s Pro League matches were pushed back to April next year and women’s schedule is still unclear. Marijne said that it could take 4-5 weeks before the players return to rigorous practice sessions and a few more weeks to play practice matches.

“It might be 4-5 weeks before we begin sporting activities and few more weeks after that to start practice matches. It depends on how the group is responding. The situation is not in our control. It is what it is,” the Dutchman said.

Despite the long wait, Marijne said that it is important for the teams to keep preparing for the upcoming Olympics.

“Michael Phelps was working throughout the year to be able to win so many Olympic medals. We cannot just train for 3-4 months and hope to be successful. For example, the Netherlands had already started matches, so we need the national camp,” he said.

Life in bio-bubble

Indian goalkeepers P.R. Sreejesh and Savita spoke about adjusting to the bio-bubble environment at the national camp and focusing on individual fitness.

“We were playing well in the Pro League, going out on weekends and all of a sudden it felt like we were in a cage. The break we got in between, we did a lot of homework to prepare for the new routine,” Sreejesh said.

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"When the lockdown began, we had no idea when we would play hockey again. We were determined to maintain our fitness during this time. We strictly followed our workout routines which is why we have benefited when we came from the break," Savita said.

According to Sreejesh, the bio-secure environment at the SAI campus, has brought the team closer than ever.

Sreejesh said: "Previously we used to have meals at our leisure, but now it happens during a limited time. Sitting with the cell phone would make you bored after a while. We have been engaging ourselves with battles on PlayStation and there is a small reading room as well. It’s good to see that the players are talking more to each other. The conversations range from COVID-19 situations across the world, funny pranks and back to serious discussions about the Olympics."

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