IBPA organises 4th Basketball E-Conclave in memory of India's greatest-ever basketball coach Sarabjeet Singh

Avinash Sharma

New Delhi, June 29: Integrated Basketball Players Association (IBPA), a unique association of Indian Basketball players, along with Indian Basketball Fans organised the 4th Basketball E-Conclave in the memory of one of India's greatest-ever basketball coach late India's first Arjuna Awardee Late Shri Sarabjeet Singh.

The panellists for this session were Olympian Allison Randall, Strength and Conditioning Coach of Vanderbilt University Basketball team, USA, Mike Russell, Athletic Coach, Jamaica & Dr Kannan Pugazhendi, Sports Medicine Specialist.

Arjuna Awardee Om Prakash Jr kicked off the session by remembering Late Sarbjeet Singh. "Sarbjeet was a solid and strong player. He had good height and displayed superb skills on the court."

Om Prakash's opening remarks were followed by Mr JC Nair who said, "Sarbajeet was a very jovial person. He had a good repo with all the players. AS a player he had a good physique and the ball looked small in his hand. I did not have the opportunity to play with him but I did see him when he was coaching and even though he had put on weight his shooting was still perfect."

Shri Rajgopal Gopi who played against with Late Sarbjeet Singh said, "I have played against him and during those we had a strategy to not let Sarbjeet have the ball. If he got the ball near the shooting area there was always a possibility that he will score. Sarbjeet was the greatest cover pivot from India during our era."

The Chairman of IBPA Arjuna Awardee Abbas Moontasir talking about Sarbjeet said, "Sarbjeet was a player full of confidence, I have seen him play in the nationals and I remember in a match referee gave him free shots. Had it been some other player he would have focused on scoring but Sarbjeet did Bhangra moves before every shot and scored. This shows how confident he was. Till date, I haven't seen anyone who will be so casual in such a crucial moment of the game."

"Sarabjit Singh was the first centre India produced," added Moontasir as he also recollected his friendship with him.

Then the Fitness conclave started with the introduction of panellists Dr Allison Randall, Mr Russell and Dr Kannan. We had a special guest Mr Michael Vassell, the fitness coach from Jamaica.

As the conclave shifted its focus to training and strengthening of players as Olympian Allison Randall, strength and conditioning coach for women's Basketball team at Vanderbilt University took the centre stage. Randall answering about her transition from an athlete to a coach said, "It has been a good learning experience for me. I believe track and field events mark the basic of any sport and its fundamental training is necessary for all sports."

Further talking about her coaching technique Randal said, "I focus more on what output I want from my players and I design training sessions accordingly. I need to figure out what a player wants to achieve what is their need and then I design their training session. It is important for coaches to know what do they need from a team and I am doing my best to learn it."

Giving more inputs about her coaching techniques Randall said, "I focus a lot on Movement patterns in the beginning. Following this, I shift my focus to developing strength base in players. During the second phase, we focus a lot on player's body composition, their diet and hydration. Later we focus on their speed and agility."

Mike Russel, IAAF academy elite coach, succeeded Randall and said, "I have been training players in India and in the beginning, I did not know what to expect. Players here start training very young and teaching them new technique becomes very tough."

"On the nutrition part also it's tough as many players are mostly vegetarian and Indians are more on the thinner side. I have observed that Indians have good sporting genes especially if we talk about swift movements but what they lack is endurance. Indian players need to work a lot on endurance," added Russel.

On how to develop better players through training Michael Vassel, IAAF Assistant coach said, "We need to have more scientific approach ion training. As a trainer, we should focus on more protein in a player's diet. Other than that basketball involves a lot of upper body work so we need to encourage more upper body workout along with exercises for shoulder, joint and elbows."

Sports medicine expert Dr Kannan Pugazhendi elaborated on the aspects of plyometric exercises and insisted that proper landing is more important. He explained how various muscles in the upper body also helps in improving explosive jumps.

He said, "Players have to be benefitted in stages. Indian focus a lot on movement training but core strength training is missing. In the modern world the training sector has changed completely. Therefore I wish trainers can design a training structure that is intimidating. Other than it almost 6 months should be spent on strength training it cannot be achieved in a day or two."

Further discussing on the role of nutritionists, doctors with a sporting team Dr Kannan said, "Basketball is a team sport and therefore even the officials like the doctors, nutritionists, coach etc should sit together as a team and discuss together every player and then a formidable plan should be chalked out for every player as all players are different and so are their needs."

When quizzed about what is the difference between strength and power Dr Kannan said, "Strength is necessary for power. It is the core of power. Strength is the beginning while power is the outcome and this is the main reason why strength training should be taken seriously."

Answering a question as to how players like Michel Jordan and Kobe Bryant stay in the air for some time when they jump Randall said, "Strength is the driving factor in this. Players, who look forward to doing so, need to work on how to adjust their weight. They need to have velocity weight training. The most important thing in the jump is its landing so players need to focus on how to land so that they don't hurt their ankle. Therefore a player has to train from toe to head to be able to do things like Jordon and Bryant."

Dr Kannan also shared some inputs keeping Indian condition in mind and said, "India lacks wooden courts and most of the players have to train on cemented courts, therefore, there are some external factors that should be looked upon. Players need to have better shoes as when they land a lot of pressure is exerted in the knee and ankle and good shoes can lower the risk of injury and damage. The surface also needs to get better in India if we want our players to jump like Jordon and Bryant."

Dr Kannan also talked about the mechanics of the jump, "Jumping is a process which involves the whole body. It is a process which includes the backbone of the upper body and the lower body. A player cannot jump high if his hands are tied. Therefore it is necessary to train the whole body for a good jump."

Further, the panellists discussed on what training techniques can be the best for basketball players and Vassel suggested, "Shoulder exercise, shoulder rotation, snatch and clean, Common Isolation Exercises, wrist rotation are some of the compulsory exercises that every player should focus on."

I also find pushups as one of the best exercises as it covers all body parts and it is one of the best strength builders," added Vassel.

When the moderator Balakrishnan asked about bodyweight training during the lockdown period, Mr.Russell explained how the period can be effectively utilised to develop the upper body muscles.

Russel added, "Animal movement exercise is also very beneficial for players. It activates all joints and improves flexibility which is very critical in Basketball."

Mr Russell's observation that Indian athletes are having explosive genes which otherwise is called fast-twitch muscles. For which Dr Kannan explained that these muscles are prevalent in South India and that's why more sprinters are from the south and long-distance runners are from the north. The discussion continued on developing endurance genes.

The panellists answered all the questions and it was so engrossing that the session was extended by half an hour. Overall the discussions with the panellists resulted in sharing of more and more knowledge on strength training.

One of the senior members of IBPA wondered how the game has become professional with so many dimensions of fitness, nutrition besides game skills. The e-conclave concluded with vote of thanks by Mr Ajay Bedi.

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