The head coach of Haryana Steelers also explained how training sessions and exercises have evolved in the last two decades.
Kabaddi as a sport has undergone a major transformation ever since the inception of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). As a result, the way players define fitness has fundamentally changed too.
During any given season of the tournament, the players have access to experienced trainers to ensure top-quality fitness. It is only after that the players take it upon themselves to maintain their fitness.
Over the past few seasons, their fitness regimes have been a testimony to their stellar performances on the mat. Emphasizing this change of benchmarks, the coach of Haryana Steelers and former Indian team player Rakesh Kumar said to PKL, “Earlier player exercises were a one-size-fits-all, but now with such a demanding league and the extensive pre-season preparations for the same, we have designed workouts for each player keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses as well as specific game strategies.”
A player must look into all aspects of fitness – strength, speed and flexibility – but something that a lot of people are not familiar with is the aspect of mental alertness.
“This sport is about quick and smart reflexes and developing the same requires a mixture of traditional and modern techniques. You can train your body for kabaddi, but that is just half the battle won. You need to develop mental toughness too. This can be achieved only with regular practice and dedication.” said Rakesh Kumar, who has been involved in the sport since 2003.
Like with any sport, injuries are a major concern in PKL. An injury to key players at crucial points in the tournament has often hampered a team’s chances to clinch the league’s trophy. Coach Rakesh Kumar knows that very well and that’s why has an intensive injury-prevention program in place.
He remarked, “Injuries don’t just harm a player and a team’s short-term plans but also have implications in the long run. I have been a player myself, and I know very well about the mental impact injuries can have to a player’s confidence.”
Along with resistance and endurance training, explosive movement training has been gaining a lot of popularity among Pro Kabaddi coaches.
“It is a combination to build speed and strength resulting in power. In Kabaddi, the goal is to produce a huge amount of power for short bursts”, he concluded.