Ahead of their maiden FIH Hockey Pro League season, the Indian Men’s Hockey have been put to the grind since their National Coaching Camp began on 29 December 2019 here in Bhubaneswar.
While the previous camp was gruelling with a heavy work load in the gym and more focus on strength training, this camp has been all about putting the body through back-to-back high intensity match day scenarios. “Since we will be playing two back-to-back high intensity matches in the FIH Hockey Pro league with little less than 24 hours of recovery time between matches, the training sessions are planned in such a way that we have red sessions (high intensity training) on back-to-back days and then rest or train light the next session,” explained young forward Mandeep Singh.
He further explained how the previous National Coaching Camp was unusually tough with heavy work load in the gym and extra focus on strength training. “Robin Arkel (Scientific Advisor) planned extremely tough gym sessions in the previous camp. Even though we are a fit team, the focus was to build on our strength much more. The effort has paid off because our scores in Yo-Yo this time has been better than ever before. This was important as speed and fitness is going to play a major role in the next 7-8 months of intense hockey that we will play. We can notice the difference in our training and can press hard till the last minute of play without feeling exhausted,” he added.
Having played close encounters with the Netherlands in the past, Mandeep is hopeful the team will hold-up to the challenge when they take on Billy Baker & Co. on 18 and 19 January 2020 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium. “We have always played close matches against the Netherlands and although we have not played them over the past year, we believe we have improved as a team with good structure and scoring capabilities. Also we are playing at home, so we would definitely not want to let our spectators down. We want to make a winning start to the season,” stated Mandeep, who scored maximum goals for India last year.
He further emphasised that the forwardline shares a renewed relationship that will surely help in converting goals. “If I am scoring goals then it is because of the assists I am getting from my team mates. My understanding with seniors SV Sunil, Ramandeep and Akashdeep is much better as we have spent more time together and we discuss and debate a lot off the field to try and analyse how we played and where we could have created gap and how we need to work inside the circle. I think this has really helped me a lot to improve as a striker,” he added.
India will take on the Netherlands in their first leg of FIH Hockey Pro League matches in Bhubaneswar on 18th and 19th January 2020.