Bengaluru, March 24 (IANS) The Indian hockey teams, both senior and junior, have made rapid progress in the past two years and much of this success needs to be attributed to the new approach adopted in terms of modernised and scientific training, feels men's team assistant coach Arjun Halappa.
Recently, the Indian team has achived the sixth ranking in the world by putting up impressive performances at the Champions Trophy, Hockey World League (HWL) and the Olympics. They have stamped their authority in Asia, while the junior team won the World Cup 2016 held in Lucknow.
Success has also come to the junior Indian eves who won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Cup, while the seniors qualified for the Olympic Games after a gap of 36 years.
"There is a lot of difference when it comes to training when compared to my playing days. There is a lot of emphasis on scientific approach. Back then, this is in the early 2000, we did not use any scientific methods to train. But now, I see this team go about a very systematic approach which is backed by scientific methodology when it comes to training," the former India skipper said in a release on Friday.
There is a lot of emphasis given on diet. We ate mostly carbs back then but now it's all about protein intake, the testing methods have all changed for the good and things are far more professional now," explained Halappa.
"Between 2008-2012, we were introduced to some innovative training methods but it's far more advanced now and it's only helped in the growth of the sport."
He further insisted that having support staff that includes a physiotherapist, masseuse, video analyst, a mental trainer and scientific advisor apart from an analytical Coach is the key to work towards better results.
"It's this approach that matters. Having people who are experts in their own department was lacking and now that these things are put in place even the players are happy. Smaller details are looked into and I feel these aspects have been the key in the team's rapid progress," asserted Halappa.
Halappa says that chief coach Roelant Oltmans has charted out a four-year plan up to Tokyo Olympics 2020 which highlights the goals the senior men's team needs to achieve through this course.
"Only yesterday he (Oltmans) discussed with the team and put forth a few points to the team that highlighted our goals to ensure we reach the top. I am happy I am working with this team in a new role and I am thankful to Hockey India and Roelant for giving me this opportunity to pay back to the sport," he expressed.
For Halappa, who was popular for his attacking skills as a midfielder, this stint with the team is a new learning.
"Like I said, hockey has become very fast-paced today. It's all about power and speed and to be involved with an elite group and work towards the team's progress is a new learning for me. It was very different when I was playing.
"The main thing for me right now is to get to know everyone well, players come from different cultural backgrounds, language and their approach is different and I see this as a chance for me to grow as a person," he stated.
While Halappa has played alongside senior players in the team such as Sardar Singh, P.R. Sreejesh, SV Sunil and shares great equation with them, the junior players too see him as one among the senior players as opposed to seeing him as a coach.
"I think it's a good thing that junior players see me as one among the players. This new group of juniors who have come in are a very talented bunch and there is a lot of focus on their development and while we are investing in them for 2020 Olympics and the 2018 World Cup; I believe with right exposure they will peak at the right time," he said.