It’s like off-season training time, says JSW Head of Sports Excellence and Scouting

Manisha Malhotra, an international tennis player-turned-sports administrator, said athletes could use this time to sharpen their skills.

Running track

Manisha Malhotra, the head of sports excellence and scouting at JSW Sports, said those who were on the threshold of graduating to the elite level were the ‘most affected.’ [Representative image]   -  Getty Images

Even as the extended lockdown has been tough on athletes from various disciplines, Manisha Malhotra, an international tennis player-turned-sports administrator, thinks the time can be used productively by doing off-season training.

Manisha said athletes could use this time to sharpen their skills. “I think Indian athletes are over-trained and we help them recoup. Now is the critical time when they get this off-season period of work which they never really had the chance to do,” Manisha told Sportstar.

“When other countries are going for the winter break in October and November, competitions happen in India. That's a difficult cycle and this will be beneficial. It will be a nice and long off-season training programme where they are kind of kept ready for competitions starting in January.”

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Manisha, the head of sports excellence and scouting at JSW Sports, explained the benefits of off-season training.

“In the off-season you are not training with any competition in sight. You are working on your strength, fitness, any injuries you have and you are working on different techniques and your weaknesses. You are not thinking of any competition, so the focus is completely different. At the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS), there are a lot of athletes who are trying to get the off-season in so that they are doing competition scenarios, sparring matches and mock competitions.”

On junior athletes, Manisha said, “Those are a little more difficult to handle. They have one year with no competition altogether. The ones who are not going to the Olympics have nothing to train or look forward to. At IIS, we have put a whole group in an off-season programme and have broken it down and tried to make it a different type of training – fun-oriented and trying to keep the athlete motivated. It is to keep the athletes’ mind sharp and motivated to train. We are looking at December as I think there will be domestic competitions happening.”

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Manisha said those who were on the threshold of graduating to the elite level were the ‘most affected.’

She said such athletes could use the present time to prepare and compete at the highest level in future. “We can assess that (effectiveness) at the middle of next year. As of now, we are preparing them with a mindset to take on the best elite athletes in the country. In athletics, we are starting to go into a training cycle where those athletes are being measured by what the elite athletes of last year did. They can now strive towards that,” said Manisha.

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