Health training and conditioning; surely not the first things that come to your mind when you hear the word ‘Football’. And yet, for all professional and semiprofessional aspirants of the sport, they are terms which mustn’t be taken lightly.
Why, you ask?
Well, there’s a reason that India is one of the worst practitioners of football in the world. And no, lack of grassroot level development, coaching academies, elite infrastructure and stadiums are not the only reasons for that – though they are a part of the reason.
The focus on health training and conditioning for footballers in India is quite low. In fact, after all these years, it is still in its nascent stage.
Monsieur Arséne Wenger, fondly known as Le Professeur by his ardent fans, revolutionized English Football before the turn of the millennium by bringing in health training and conditioning. There was a proper focus on the all round development of a player’s body; from their diet to their body patterns, everything was noted down and changed to make sure that the body was always at the optimum level of functioning at the time of the game. These techniques also made sure that the players’ bodies were properly rested and in fine fettle and working order.
All of this was done to get their physical levels up to 100 percent, and they played a crucial role in leeching out that extra percent of energy and performance from the lads even in situations when the chips were down.
Coupled with the latest in medicinal technology and the help of the best doctors – who would look at a certain player’s paining leg and immediately isolate the cause of it to be in a some nerve above the tooth and heal it – the footballing landscape was changed forevermore.
However even two decades after its inception, this aspect of the sport has to yet make its presence felt in our country.
Indian footballers are unable to last in harsh foreign conditions, and even in to subcontinent, their performance levels drop by a massive amount in the second half. An old study conducted upon one of India’s top footballers of that time showed that he would only be able to last in the intensity of the English Premier League for 20-30 odd minutes. A difference of 60-70 minutes from their foreign counterparts – a huge chasm indeed.
This is where health training and conditioning comes in. With the appropriate exercises to develop the body’s ability to perform in intense conditions, coupled with a regime which would help relax properly post training would bring about a marked difference in our players’ performances. From a systematic sleep pattern, individually selected and recommended diets (with appropriate, legal body supplements), intensity training, and the development of the footballing brain and vision to perform under duress, is a must if our players are to be able to stand tall against their international counterparts.
It’s about time Indian Football stood up and took a step forward into the 21st century.