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Not much will change in hockey due to COVID-19 pandemic: India coach Reid

Sayan Mukherjee

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Graham Reid
Graham Reid (left) and Chris Ciriello form Indian men's hockey team's technical think thank. Photo: @TheHockeyIndia

New Delhi: Like any other global sport, all hockey activity has halted due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic. To keep its players engaged during lockdown, Hockey India has conducted online courses and training schedules.

While social distancing and other precautionary measures would have to be maintained once sport resumes after the pandemic, hockey wouldn’t have to make major changes, says Indian men’s team hockey Graham Reid. Part I of a lengthy interview:

Q. How are you coping with the lockdown?

GR: We have tried to use this period to be as productive as possible. We have had one-on-one meetings with the players and have reset all our goals. We are doing a few team bonding exercises.

We have asked the players to share stories about their life and background on videos and then we are going to make a composite video once we receive the thoughts from our players.

We will share the composite video with the team and this exercise will help all of us to get to know each other a bit better.

Our strength and conditioning staff has been doing an exceptional job. They have motivated the players to work on their fitness during this period.

Q. Can online coaching courses effectively convey the message of an outdoor game like hockey?

GR: The Hockey India level ‘Basic’ coaching course online has helped the players understand all the rules of the game much better. The rules of the game are really important.

When the chips are down, one has to make a decision to go for a video referral or not. The players are also learning the history of the game.

The course is theoretical of course, but the players are skilled enough to react in the outdoor part of the game. So, the coaching course will help the players understand the game better.

Graham Reid

Indian men’s hockey coach Graham Reid (left) says players need to start from scratch post the lockdown. Photo: @TheHockeyIndia

Q. How have the Indian hockey players reacted to the online coaching course?

GR: They had a lot of fun while appearing for an exam for the coaching course, so that’s good. Each of the players got a different set of questionnaires, so they couldn’t look into anyone else’s answers as well. They have enjoyed learning about different things about the game.

Q. Is coaching abiding by social distancing norms possible for outdoor sports?

GR: If one is coaching junior teams then it’s difficult to maintain social distancing since the coach would need to correct the technique of the players or show someone how to hold a stick.

But, for us (coaching at the international level), we can coach the team by maintaining distance.

Q. Do you think hockey or outdoor sports will remain the same after the COVID-19 pandemic?

GR: My gut feel is that when hockey resumes again, it will be played in the same manner as played before. I am not sure if there will be huge changes in the way the game is played.

Q. Will your coaching policy change in the wake of coronavirus?

GR: It will depend on how much training does the team needs and how many matches will the team play. The amount of time we have on the pitch will determine how the game will change from a coaching perspective.

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Sayan Mukherjee is the Content Head at Sports Lounge. He has over 10 years of experience in sports journalism (print and digital) having worked for some of the leading media organisations in the country including The Statesman, The Asian Age, IANS and Sports Illustrated.

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