Indian hockey defender Gurinder Singh believes that the team’s shift from being a defensive unit that often relied on scoring on the counter to being an aggressive and attacking side is largely down to chief coach Graham Reid.
Having taken charge as the chief of the Indian hockey men’s team in April last year, the Aussie tactician has ensured that the team gets off the blocks soon and makes the most of the circle penetrations in the opening minutes of the matches.
“I am sure one can see the difference he has brought to the side since April last year,” Gurinder Singh said speaking to Hockey India in a recent interview.
“We have become much more aggressive in our approach and therefore we are creating many more goal-scoring opportunities.”
Quick goals, a new feature
This feature was largely evident in the opening encounters of the FIH Pro League early in the year as the Indian hockey team surprised many by finding the back of the net with their opening few moves.
Up against the Netherlands in their opening game, while Gurjant Singh gave India the lead with just 15 seconds on the clock, Rupinder Pal Singh would double the advantage from a penalty corner before the quarter hooter.
While the change in strategy and the effectiveness of it has been visible in the few matches that India has played this season, Gurinder Singh believed that the shift in mentality has been due to the coach’s ability to work with the players on an individual level.
“It was amazing to see him shift focus from working on team tactics to the development of every player during the national camp in November last year,” said the 25-year-old.
“Since there was a lot of time to prepare for the next tournament after the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, the coach spent time with all players and ensured that we improved on certain aspects during the camp.”
Gurinder Singh keen on individual development
Hockey might have come to a grinding halt following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, but for the players in the Indian hockey team, the learning never stops.
And Gurinder is ensuring that he makes the most of the time to better his game with the limited facilities available inside the athlete’s hostel at the Sports Authority of India centre.
“Keeping myself fit is my number one priority during the lockdown period and I am carrying out some stickwork drills as well,” said Gurinder Singh, who was part of the Indian team that won the 2016 FIH Junior World Cup.
“Playing for India at the Olympics has been a dream since childhood and hopefully, I will make it to the squad and contribute to India winning a medal at the Tokyo Games.”