Online session great, but nothing like on-field | More sports News

KOLKATA: Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the sporting world into disarray. Days have turned into weeks and then into months, but sports events across the globe remain suspended and by all calculations, it will take a while before they return. However, sports associations in India have found ways of keeping players engaged during this crisis through online classes, tournaments and webinars.

While the technical part of their sport has taken a backseat because of space constraints, the focus has been on fitness and mental upkeep of the players.

Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom in an online education programme conducted by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) explained the nuances of injury-management to fellow boxers. “I taught them out of my experience and from the athlete’s perspective. This way it must have helped the participants during this time as they can’t go out and train at any academies,” Mary told TOI.

Asked if the online sessions are effective compared to actual sessions, the 37-year-old said, “This has its own positive and negative aspects. We are doing it because there is no choice. The good thing is, many of our boxers and athletes are availing these programmes, which might not be possible in person right now. I would say these online sessions are good and very helpful.”

Olympian Joydeep Karmakar is buoyed by rave reviews of the recently-concluded online shooting competition. “Each and every participant in the online tournament felt pressure of the competition even while shooting from their bedrooms or basements. It gave them the much needed psychological boost up,” Karmakar said.

Echoing his thoughts, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manu Bhaker said, “I was craving for a competition and the online event has helped assess my performance. This initiative will keep our spirits high during this lockdown.”

Karmakar has also started an online session to keep his academy students motivated. “The shooters were getting depressed after the first few days of lockdown. They were scared of losing form,” he informed.

With little chance of working on the technicalities, Karmakar organised online discussions based on the background of the sport, Olympic movement and about champions of the game. “Knowing theories of the sport is as essential as getting the posture right while shooting. So I started asking them questions and let them surf the internet for an answer. We later discussed the topic. I am amazed at how much this exercise has helped then get involved,” Karmakar said.

While sports like chess can be played inside the room and shooting can still be managed in the lawn, basement or living room, players involved in outdoor sports like cricket, football, hockey, golf and several others have to manage with just fitness and mental strengthening sessions.

Bengal Ranji Trophy opener Abhishek Raman feels the 45-minute video session with former India player VVS Laxman has helped him get his focus back. “Laxman sir didn’t speak about the technical issues, but focused on how to deal with failures and ways to regain confidence. He suggested ways to prepare mentally for the upcoming season and remain fit. It’s a new way of learning but extremely helpful,” Raman said.

ISL-6 champions ATK too has handed every member of the squad a fitness programme. “Our trainer has given us a schedule and I am working on it to stay in shape,” club’s right-back Prabir Das said. Similarly, India’s leading table tennis player Sutirtha Mukherjee is dedicating 3 hours a day to keep up her fitness. “Apart from fitness, there is not much that I can do at home. Coach Soumyadeep Roy is helping us with physical and mental fitness schedules,” Sutirtha said.

For Chandigarh based golfer Shubhankar Sharma these sessions are a way of getting back to the fundamentals and clear doubts in the mind.

However, GM Dibyendu Barua, who is conducting online classes for his students, believes the players may be benefiting from online sessions at the moment but an actual game of chess is way more competitive. “With the availability of laptops and internet in every household, kids are getting big help from these classes but I would prefer playing against an opponent face-to-face,” Dibyendu added.

Echoing his thoughts Karmakar said, “Online coaching is only for these difficult times but it cannot replace physical coaching.”

According to sports psychologist Mugdha Bavare, the players have taken this lockdown in their stride and the online sessions have played a major role in it. “Most athletes are taking part in webinars and joining fitness sessions. These have helped players cope with this crisis. As a mental trainer I keep telling players to control the controllable and that is to keep fit and stay mentally healthy,” Bavare said.

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