Talk about Virat Kohli, and it is all about his incredible discipline, skill, and work ethic. A video which went viral recently shows how the Indian cricket captain is sweating it out in the gym during a weightlifting session. While there is no doubt that Kohli is a natural athlete, his stunning hard work could make him one of the fittest cricketers to have played for the country. Kohli says in the message: “Hey guys, you can see, I’m pretty tired. Finished one set of sprinting after six sets of dobels of 30 seconds.’’
According to Kohli by putting a band around his waist, he is able do high knees with resistance. “I’m pushing forward. I’m totally loving it.’’ Kohli advises to do something productive when it comes to fitness. “So, find your own motivation be ready always to put in efforts.’’
Former Hyderabad captain and his teammate Ambati Rayudu feels that Kohli has set a precedent on his work ethics. “He leads by example. There are no short cuts and most importantly he enjoys his work outs. His work ethic and passion knows no bounds. In addition, he believes in himself and his abilities. That is something amazing,’’ says Rayudu, in praise of his former captain.
But, then a modern day sports person believes in hard work. This X factor is indeed is the new phenomenon in Indian sport. Kohli’s `insane’ workout include high-intensity interval training. The weightlifting sessions form one part of the regimen. By actively taking part in weightlifting, it increases muscle strength, stamina and explosive movements.
Although there are specific programmes for each individual player, Kohli is very particular in his workout. But what separates Kohli from others is that the Indian skipper never forgets his workout despite a hectic schedule. There is a lot of focus and intensity in the time he spends at the gym. The workout also includes walking, jogging, sprints and high level of fielding drills. With high competition, there is tremendous intensity shown by the players. No player can afford to miss the workout apart from net sessions. It is seen even in the State-level Ranji and other junior teams. The Indian women cricketers are not far behind. They do weights and other cardio exercises to increase their stamina, speed, strength and endurance.
This was not the case prior to the ‘80s and ‘90s. Perhaps the first coach who introduced intensive fitness drills was the legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi. It was something new to the Indian cricket then and as former Test left-arm spinner SL Venkatapathy Raju points out it took the cricketers by surprise. By the time former New Zealand opener John Wright took over as Indian coach, the concept of fitness came in and became an integral part of the team. But Kohli has taken it to another level.
Indian fielding coach Ramakrishna Sridhar once commented that Kohli’s energy levels are supreme. “He is also very aggressive. His mindset towards fielding is unbelievable as he creates an opportunity where none exists. He creates that excitement on the field,’’ feels Sridhar.
It is a new India where fitness and high intensity training have taken a new high.
Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand always believed that Indians always had the skills in the game, but when it came to speed, endurance, power and stamina they were poor in comparison to the Chinese, Indonesians or the Japanese.
When he became a coach, his first priority was to introduce vigorous training sessions and Saina Nehwal responded magnificently. She went on to create ripples as she stormed the Chinese bastion as she won eight Super Series titles. PV Sindhu too touched dizzy heights. The intensive training camps made the Indian badminton players fitter and stronger. These became important elements.
For instance, when Sindhu won the World Championship in Basel last year, her father PV Ramana ensured that his daughter worked the extra mile. Apart from her rigorous training sessions at Gopichand Academy, Sindhu spent long hours at the Suchitra Academy where she trained under the strength and conditioning coach Srikanth Verma. In order to improve Sindhu’s court movements, he designed the programme so that she could improve speed, power, agility and endurance. The work load was increased as it was needed for high performance. It was grueling work for Sindhu, but in the end it worked like magic in the World Championship.
Sindhu’s weight training stunned Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group. He tweeted: “Brutal. I’m exhausted just watching this. But now there’s no mystery about why she’s the World Champ. A whole generation of budding Indian sportspersons will follow her lead and not shrink from the commitment required to get to the top.”
Even Sania Mirza, who made her comeback with glorious triumph at Hobart tournament in Australia after her pregnancy, virtually slogged to be in top form. It was a heavy workout at Lal Bahadur Stadium and Filmnagar Club at Jubilee Hills courts that helped her to play the tough pro tennis. According to London Olympian J Vishnuvardhan, “it was a relentless training”.
The Indian hockey, both men and women, is pushing to reach the next level as the game has become supremely fast. There are high yo-yo tests and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to make the players more successful in high-speed hockey. The men and women teams have Robin Arkell and Wayne Lombard on board as scientific advisors. The GPS has helped both coaches and scientific advisors to make sure that the players do not overdo the fitness regime and also suffer an injury.
Through GPS, the various players are being trained and have different fitness schedules for every position. It is based around when the competition is with the workload being given to the players accordingly.