A lot of the credit for PV Sindhu’s success goes to her coaches Pullela Gopichand and Kim Ji Hyun. But there is more to success in badminton than just talent and skill on the court. At the international level, with the best of the world competing for every single point, it is a test of fitness and the ability to last on the court as well.
It is here that Srikanth Varma, the Head Strength and Conditioning coach at the Suchitra Badminton academy in Secunderabad, stepped in. Sindhu has been training with Varma since May 2017. The video (below) will give you an idea about the kind of work that went into making Sindhu one of the fittest badminton players in the world.
T S Sudhir spoke to Srikanth Varma on how he prepared the champion player for greater glory.
Sudhir : Congratulations. You and your academy deserve a large part of the credit for the gold medal that Sindhu won for India.
Srikanth : Thankyou. The specialised programme that I designed for Sindhu worked. She has been training with me before the 2017 World championship (where she won a silver).
Sudhir : What was the kind of effort you put in the run-up to this World championship in Basel?
Srikanth : I had designed a 45-day training programme. In a nutshell, it was a quick reaction programme. It helped that Sindhu has a body type that can take a high workout regimen. So accordingly, I prepared a programme that is done for high performance athletes. To explain in simple terms, this meant high intensity and high volume.
Sudhir : What would be her daily routine like?
Srikanth : Including recovery time, about two and a half hours. Even though the academy is 30 km from her residence, she and her father PV Ramana did not skip a session even for a day. Such is their commitment. Even when her body would be sore, she would train with help from the physios.
Sudhir : And you had a feedback session on the badminton court to gauge if your training methods are working, right?
Srikanth : Yes, that is right. We have the badminton courts here where she would occasionally play a game. There Ramana Sir and our academy director Praveen Raju Sir would watch while she played. So if I got feedback like she is unable to reach the lower drop shuttles on the front side of the court, I would tweak the programme a bit and design it accordingly. The preparation was that precise.
Sudhir : This 45-day session began before the Indonesian Open in July where she lost in the finals to Akane Yamaguchi. Were there any lessons from that experience?
Srikanth : Yes. It showed our methods were working and she was gaining in confidence. But after the Indonesian Open, we specifically worked on her foot and hand reactions, made minor corrections.
Sudhir : The next one year is critical for you and Sindhu, with the Japan Olympics next July-August. What are your plans?
Srikanth : The main challenge and plan is to control injuries. Have a tournament plan and manage the workload efficiently.
(T S Sudhir is a badminton buff and the author of Saina Nehwal’s biography in 2012)