Suma Shirur: Tactics help in getting the best out of a shooter

Elated at the success of upcoming stars, Suma Shirur, India’s high performance coach for the junior rifle team, says shooters need to work on the tactical aspect of their game for better performances.

(From left) Sumeet Kabra, director RR group, Siddharth Shirur and Suma Shirur at the launch programme of 10th RR Lakshya Cup in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo: Shayan Acharya

Suma Shirur, India’s high performance coach for the junior rifle team, is happy to have overseen a period of success in 2018.

Mehuli Ghosh and Elavenil Valarivan won gold in World Cups (junior and senior), and the Junior World Championships. Having also excelled in the Youth Olympic Games, where they won gold again, the expectations from the duo have gone up.

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Looking back at the year, Shirur, on Saturday, told Sportstar, “I have seen a huge change since I took over [as the high performance coach], last February. Until last year, we ended up finishing eighth and it was a surprise, given that we had such talented shooters. But this year, from the very first Junior World Cup, we have been striking gold and have been making world records.”

The tactical aspect

Shirur, however, noted Mehuli needed some strategical changes in her game. Elaborating on this aspect, she said, “Technique is one thing, and then there is tactics. You also need to work on your tactics in order to get the best out of yourself. A shooter has to know herself really well when she is shooting 60 shots. [It is about] when to take a break, when to pace it up and what’s to be with done with concentration levels when things are down or when things are okay.”

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In fulfilling her role, Shirur has had to work with the personal coaches of the shooters. She has spoken to Mehuli’s coach, Olympian Joydeep Karmakar, explaining him the need for coming up with strategies for his ward. “She got her best scores in the Youth Olympic Games and I was there with the team. I was mainly working on the strategies because she would mostly go into a competition, with no great strategy. I started creating strategies and now we are working on that together and her scores have been much better in the national trials,” Shirur said.

Mehuli Ghosh (in picture) needs to work on the tactical aspect of her game to get better, says Suma Shirur. Photo: S. Mahinsha


For Elavenil, however, it is a different story. “Technically, she is fantastic, but I had to work on her ‘ideal performance’ state. It is about [the] mood in which you are shooting. I had to bring her to that level where she could shoot comfortably. That’s my job, to identify each shooter as unique talent,” Shirur said.

Promising talents

With a series of important events lined up for 2019, Shirur will mainly pay attention to five shooters — Mehuli, Elavenil, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Shreya Agrawal and Aishwarya Pratap Singh.

Among the upcoming talents, Shirur praised Divyansh, who enjoyed success at the Asian Championship and the Junior World Championship, and Shreya. She said, “Divyansh and Shreya have really come up from nowhere. They are the ones to watch out for. Divyansh won both the selection trials recently and Shreya shot her personal best scores. So, I am hoping they do well in the coming tournaments.”

Lakshya Cup on December 31

Some of India’s top shooters — Ravi Kumar, Deepak Kumar, Shahu Mane, Akhil Sheoran and Aishwarya Pratap Singh, among others — will participate in the 10th RR Lakshya Cup at the Karnala Sports Academy in Panvel, Maharashtra, on December 31.

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In a bid to promote gender equality, the air-rifle tournament, run by Shirur, will not have separate categories for men and women. “Though there will be junior and senior categories, both male and female shooters will participate together. There will be 60 shots for all of them,” Shirur said.

The winner in the senior category will receive a prize money of ₹1 lakh, and the winner in the junior category ₹50,000. Sunny Thomas, the former Indian chief shooting coach, will be the chief guest.

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