The art and science of Abhinav Bindra's vision

The Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre in the Kalinga Stadium Complex at Bhubaneswar is an awe-inspiring training facility for athletes to prepare for the elite level.

Officials pose outside the Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre in the Kalinga Stadium Complex, Bhubaneswar.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The first reaction when you walk into the Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre at the Kalinga Stadium complex is disbelief. It’s overwhelming when you walk out of it almost two hours later.

A brainchild of the only Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, the five centres – here and at Pune, Delhi, Mohali and Bengaluru -- come as an eye-opener to the kind of preparations that go into making a world-class athlete. The centre in Bhubaneswar is the biggest and most advanced in terms of comprehensive pre-hab and re-hab programmes.

Opened in February this year and backed by the Odisha government and Rungta Mines, the centre currently caters to young residents of the state hostels and national athletes – free of cost -- with a proposal to be open for non-athletes in future.

Dr. Kartik Doshi, the man in-charge of the centre, is more than willing to spend hours explaining about the facilities and mechanics of the devices.

“I had to undergo training about the machines before I joined here despite having worked in USA for two years before this, so you can understand how advanced they are. But this is what we need at the elite level to match the best,” he laughs.

The Walker View gauges the athlete's motor movements such as gait and provides feedback.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

 

The machines have names alien to many -- Walker View, D Wall, Iso Move, Static and Dynamic Pro Kin and Balance Trunk MF. And a brief experience on them reveals that staying absolutely still is one of the most difficult things to do.

“Most people and even experts tend to go straight into strengthening as part of recovery process. But stability is the most important and undervalued element of fitness. Unless you are stable, your efforts at strengthening will not just be wasted but also affect your performances on field. That’s why we put a premium on stability before moving to advanced training,” Doshi explains.

The centre works on an assessment-training-assessment system with the machines giving instant visual feedback to the athlete, which makes the process of rectifying errors much faster. The Walker View, for example, is an all-encompassing system that puts walking and running through a range of tests including the motion of the trunk and gait analysis.

And the D-Wall, only the second centre in India to have one – the other being at the ABTP Centre in Bengaluru -- acts like a digital mirror with floor sensors, providing real-time visible feedback to help perfect motor movements, check the quality of lifts in strength-training.

Trying out the machines only confirms the embarrassing fact – I am gloriously unfit and consistently in the ‘poor’ range of results. “It’s ok, most non-athletes rate similar in their first session,” Doshi says sympathetically. On the other hand, not ending up half-dead at the end of it must count as an achievement!

The Electrical Muscular Stimulation (EMS) is truly a marvel. It has vests fitted with mechanisms that condense fourteen hours of gym into 20 minutes of intense training twice a week. But the real favourite with elite athletes has been CryoSpace, which assists muscle recovery after training or competition. “It takes about 48 hours for complete recovery normally. With this, a player can play in the morning, recover and then play again in the evening,” Doshi says.

The CryoSpace helps with muscle recovery after training and competition.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

 

Powered by nitrogen reduced to minus 150 degrees, the maximum time one is allowed in it is 3 minutes. “Else hypothermia may set in,” he adds.

“Having been to the best performance and sports medicine and injury centres across the world I wanted to bring the same to India. My real desire is to work at the grassroots and expose them to the best of science and technology as that is the only way we will change the ecosystem of sport in India,” Bindra told Sportstar.

The Bhubaneswar centre has, till date, worked with more than 350 athletes at all levels and performed more than 600 tests. While some elite athletes have also availed of the services, the immediate focus, though, is on testing and training the kids at the three state sports hostels in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Sambalpur. “Overall, we have offered services close to 700 athletes across our centres for free in the last year,” said Bindra.

There are proposals to do more. More centres, more equipments, more experts to try and explain the importance of the smallest of things that go on to together make the biggest of impact on the biggest of sports stage. Having been there and done that, Bindra is perhaps the best placed to be the guide.

Machines used at ABTP

Walker View

An all-encompassing system that can test and train athletes and non-athletes alike.

Iso Move

An advanced isokinetic machine that tests and trains the quadriceps and hamstrings strength.

Postural Bench

Essential to understanding and targeting the use of the muscle chains of the back.

Balance Trunk MF

Encourages a focus on the proprioception and movement of the Pelvic region.

Pro Kin

Tests and trains for dynamic and static stability, important for the balance of an athlete during movement in any sport

Iso Shift

Allows the athlete to load of muscles across different planes of movement.

D-Wall

The most advanced functional screening and training system in the world.

Iso Free

A smaller version of the D-Wall that can conduct a more intensive analysis of movement in one place.

EMS

Stimulates muscles through electrodes in vests, can be used both wired and wireless to condense training for two hours, seven days a week into 20 minutes of intense sessions twice a week.

CryoSpace

Aids and hastens recovery of muscles after training or competition.

CARETherapy

Works in injury management and quickens healing process by working on the muscles all the way to the bones.