With the national lockdown in India depriving teams of practice sessions, the Indian hockey men’s team has instead decided to browse through videos of their previous matches to analyse their performances.
“We are carrying out post-mortem for our previous matches. There is a software called myTPA, wherein we can analyse them,” veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh told the Indo-Asian News Service agency.
“We watch the videos in our rooms and give our feedback. We answer questions online given to us by the coaches.”
This way, not only do the players stay in touch with the sport but studying video clips of past matches also gives them an opportunity to increase their knowledge of playing styles.
“We also have to identify different patterns of play on the areas that we need to improve," captain Manpreet Singh added when speaking to the Hindustan Times.
Coach Graham Reid sees that as a way to particularly prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.
“During this time, we will be able to give them deeper knowledge on the scenarios that may come up in the Olympic cauldron,” the former Australian hockey player told the Times of India.
Both the men’s and women’s Indian hockey teams are residing at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru where they were undergoing training camps when the lockdown was announced, meaning they could not return to their respective homes.
And though they are trying to make the best of the situation by building their own bonds, it is made difficult by the social distancing protocols.
“We keep a distance in the canteen and only two persons sit at one table. We are doing everything in a very hygienic way so that none of us get infected,” said Sreejesh.
“The players are carrying out general fitness drill and bodyweight workouts in our rooms. We are even trying to do all exercises in a group of two.”
All focus on the Olympics
The Indian hockey men’s team is the most successful in Olympics history, winning eight gold medals along with a silver and a bronze but have fallen off in recent years, with their last Olympic medal coming at the Moscow Games in 1980.
This time around, they were looking in good shape as they began what was originally supposed to be an Olympic year with top-notch performances against the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia in their maiden FIH Pro League campaign.
Their tally of two wins, two losses and two draws saw them garner 10 points and sit fourth in the table before the campaign was pushed forward due to the pandemic.
With their eyes firmly set on a medal, the Indian hockey men’s team had been focusing their attention on their Olympics preparation for the past one year and Sreejesh revealed the players are doing all they can to be ready when it arrives.
“Everyone is preparing mentally for the Olympics. We need to focus, work really hard from day one and we need to focus for 365-400 days to achieve something,” he said.
The Tokyo Olympics probably represent the last chance for several senior players to earn an Olympic medal and with a good blend of young blood in the team, they would be hoping to finally achieve that dream.