New Delhi: Indian men’s hockey coach Graham Reid admits it would be tough to plan preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.
But despite this COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown, Reid believes it has given him ample time to gauge the mentality of the national team’s hockey players, which would help him start India’s preparation from scratch once training resumes.
Part II of the interview.
Q. How do you think this lockdown could affect the preparation of the Indian hockey team for the Olympics?
GR: The players have been in the national camp for around 10 weeks, so the players I know as keen to go back home for a break once the lockdown is lifted.
It’s still a long way to the Olympic Games and a lot of things will happen around the world. So, we have to remain flexible in whatever we do.
I am sure we have to change our plans dramatically once the lockdown is lifted and it will be ongoing.
Q. Is the postponement of the Olympics a boon or a bane for the team?
GR: The extra 12 months gives me a good opportunity personally to get to know all the players a bit better. That’s another reason why we are doing the video exercise so that we can get a feel of the players’ backgrounds.
As a coach, it’s nice to know our players. We have got some young players as well, who have got some time from now and next year to show their skills.
So, from a playing perspective, I think the postponement is a positive for us.
Q. How are you tracking the physical fitness of players during this lockdown?
GR: Every time the players do their running, they have to wear a GPS system and a heart rate monitor.
We can monitor the work rate that they are doing. We track through the GPS system and the heart rate monitor and ensure that they are training at the appropriate level.
Q. What inputs have you given the players during the lockdown?
GR: I have told the entire team that we have pushed the reset button during this period. Everyone starts from scratch again. I have spoken to the players about the aspects that they have to work on.
We have watched footage from our previous matches and the players know how they fared in each of their matches this year thoroughly. We have had a good chat about staying positive.
I have made sure that each of the players has understood what I expect from them.
Q. Post the lockdown and COVID-19 pandemic how do you plan to prepare the team for the Olympics?
GR: It’s very tough to plan our preparations at the moment. It’s so difficult to predict the future. The players really want to go home and spend time with their family post the lockdown.
I hope we play the rest of the Hockey Pro League matches and have an extra tour somewhere before the Olympics. We will have to see how many games we can play to help us prepare for the Olympic Games.
Q. Do you anticipate decreased fitness levels of players once outdoor training resumes?
GR: I think it’s very difficult for players to maintain their fitness standards without outdoor training.
Once the players are back on the pitch, we will increase the intensity of the practice sessions day by day and then get them back to the fitness level they had before the pandemic.
Q. Do you think you and your coaching staff will have to work extra hard after outdoor training resumes?
GR: We definitely have to work extra hard to help the players get back to the rhythm they had prior to the lockdown. We will have to get them up and running as soon as we can.