In Conversation With Vickram Kanth | Indian Hockey Player

Vickram Kanth, a former Indian field hockey player and a coach in the making, is a part of our advisory board at The Sports School. After making a debut in 2004 with Junior Asia Cup, he has represented India on numerous occasions. Over the years, he has played many matches, and with that experience, he has a bag full of advice for our young athletes. Read to know what he said to our team when they reached out to him: 

  • During these testing times, what was your strategy to stay fit without breaking the social distancing norms?

After following the sports schedule throughout our lives, training in different situations, and different places, both with and without equipment, and of course with the guidance of good trainers, we have a schedule in place and it becomes an integral part of your life. However, training alone can be challenging because you don’t have other athletes on your side to encourage you. In these times, it is your motivation that matters the most, so you need to keep pushing yourself. 

  • What was your motivation as a kid that drove you towards hockey?

I was born in Coorg, so over there kids naturally take up hockey as their first sport, instead of cricket as the rest of the country. Also, my father was a hockey player himself, and as I saw him play growing up, I fell in love with the game. I wanted to become like him; he was my ideal, so I took up the sport. 

  • Playing on national and international grounds is a matter of immense pride but at the same time, you are subjected to a great deal of pressure in the field. So how do you deal with it?

For a sports person, dealing with the pressure is part and parcel of the game. Those who have excelled in dealing with it, getting above it, and playing better have succeeded in sports. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli are under a lot of pressure themselves, but despite that, they have always performed well. The pressure from family, friends, and fans is obvious, but one should focus on their strengths, believe in themselves, and do their best in the field. Never let the pressure build on you, and focus on yourself, once you’re above it, you will come out with flying colors. 

  • Looking back at your illustrious career, which match would you call the most memorable one?

My debut, the first match I played in Karachi, that’s in Pakistan. The pressure was understandable. It was the Junior Asia Cup, and we won the final match against Pakistan. In that match, I had first-hand experience of how my career will be from thereon. It was my first match, but I had a lot of seniors around me, and we pulled it off. It was like an ice-breaker for my career. I’ve won many more matches, but because of the hype around India vs Pakistan, winning a tournament against them in their homeland made it very special. 

  • What are your views on the future of Hockey in India?

Five years back, we ranked 11th in the world, and today we are number 5. So, we’ve moved forward from 2011, and these years have been a developing phase for India. Although in 2012, the team didn’t do well and we were 12th, but since then it has been an upward climb. The team has been making steady progress, and it is just a matter of time before we start getting more international medals. There is awareness about the sport on the grass-root level because of social media and tournaments are now being held in the country, which didn’t happen back then. Even the World Cup was held in Bhubaneshwar. Now people are watching the sport, and if we do well, there will be more viewership. In the World Cup, we made it to the quarter-finals, we won the Asian Games, and in the Olympics, we were really close too, so now we’re slowly making our place on the podium. In a few years, we can definitely expect more medals for the team. In terms of fitness and technical, the team has incredible support and is doing really well. The gap between our team and international teams has reduced, the matches are close, and the fear of competing with them has vanished. After defeating the Belgians and Australians a couple of times, our team has regained confidence and is preparing well for the upcoming matches. 

  • What support do you think is needed from the government and corporates to grow the sport in India?

I think hockey is lacking awareness. As of now, people have to wait for international tournaments, and there is nothing to keep them hooked in between; we need more domestic events like IPL in Hockey. Just like cricket, even hockey has test series, but those are not telecasted; it’s only during the Olympics and Asian Games that people get exposure. People must know that a lot is happening in hockey as well. 

Hockey is a fast sport which makes it difficult to identify the players, so it somewhere lacks the tradition of icons, unlike cricket, where the country remembers the players. People are unable to follow the players because of the nature of the sport. The media should do a lot more coverage of the players individually so that fans get to know them. Many people watch cricket for Dhoni and Virat because they are fanboy characters; similarly, we need to make more such fanboy characters in hockey so that people get glued to the person, and also to the sport. 

  • Being a sportsperson and coaching athletes are two very different paths. So how has your journey been in this transition? What are the major changes that you had to face?

I still continue to play, although not on the international level. I knew that there will be a time when all of us have to hang our boots, so what next? At my training center, I enjoyed correcting and helping the young athletes around me. No one told us what to and what not to do in the initial phase of our career; it was only during the national camps that we got exposure. However, athletes are very impatient, we expect instant results; it’s like you’re doing it right, and so can they. It was only after the Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway that I realized how the two are different,  coaching demands a lot of patience and planning. They say a lot of good players don’t become good coaches because they want instant success, but coaching doesn’t work that way. Now, I’m a level 2 FIH  coach and I’m looking forward to this. 

  • What is the importance of balancing both sports and academics for young athletes?

When we started off at a young age, there were a lot of opportunities in the industry, but now the competition is very high. Out of a batch of 30, only a few end up big, while others are just lost! Many kids in our batch couldn’t make it. So a sportsperson needs to understand that even if they don’t make it, they’ll still have academics to catch on to. Once you balance the two, you’re much more stable. Sports are uncertain; you might get injured, or there are chances you don’t make it to the team. On the other hand, Academics is certain; there is no concept of luck here, it is about what you learn, and it stays with you. 

  • What do you think about The Sports School? What made you associate with us as part of the Sports Advisory Board?

Rohan Bopanna is a close friend of mine, and he introduced me to The Sports School. When I met Dr. Shankar, I felt that it is something wonderful, that it is one of a kind. What intrigued me the most was that we had many sports here, except hockey, and I asked myself, ‘Why not hockey?’ Then I got involved with the institution. Also, sportsmen have to travel a lot but with facilities like these readily available, even we can train on these grounds.

A lot of people drop out of sports because they lack the facilities and lose the balance between sports and education. I’ve met many parents who get confused between sports and academics, and don’t really know what is good for their kids. So, with an institution like The Sports School in their own city, parents can freely enroll their kids, and this will help many budding sportsmen. As a sports person myself, I take the responsibility to take The Sports School to great heights and spread the word so that people use this opportunity and ultimately bring laurels to the country. 

Ending the conversation, Vickram Kanth quoted, “Sports to me is ultimately the overall development of a person. Sports is a good way of life. Everybody should take it up, to have a fitter lifestyle, and to just do what they love,” and we couldn’t agree more. 

Know More

Different Types of Training Methods For Athletes

Sports training, in a nutshell, means preparing for a performance. It helps the athlete build strength and endurance gradually, improves their skill levels, and strengthens confidence. As simple as this may sound, but formulating the ‘perfect’ training method that fulfills all your physical goals is a dream come true. The workout program you follow has a significant impact on your desired outputs; hence training must be relevant to your purpose and sport you intend to pursue.

There is no hard and fast rule that one must follow in order to achieve a particular result; this is due to varied body types, different metabolism levels, and diverse age groups. With multiple options available, it becomes all the more challenging to choose one, so how do we go about this process?

The best way is to try everything and see what gives you the most reliable results; experiment and learn in the process. Here are some conventional models of training:

Continuous Training

Continuous training or steady-state training includes longer intervals of physical exercise without breaks or rest periods. Ideally, in this method, the heart rate is kept constant between 60% to 80% throughout the session, and it aims at enhancing your respiratory and cardiovascular system. Once you build your cardiovascular endurance, it becomes easier for your body to cope up with routine activities without running out of breath.

Continuous exercise is recommended if you are looking forward to losing weight, participating in marathons, swimming, triathlons, and bike rides. It is also an excellent way to begin exercising before moving on to the high-intensity workout. Typical sessions include swimming, running, biking, walking, or a combination of all, for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek, a Swedish term that means ‘Speed Play,’ is a training method that blends the elements of continuous and interval training. It involves the change in speed or terrain to emphasis on both aerobic and anaerobic systems and increases the recovery rate. It challenges the athlete’s body to adapt to different speed levels, hence acclimatizing their body to run faster over long distances.

There are multiple benefits of Fartlek training, such as improved endurance and speed, more flexibility and versatility in the athlete’s game, and more race tactics for runners. This method is suitable for cross country runners, team games involving variations in speed and marathon runners.

Circuit Training

This method of body conditioning involves endurance training, resistance training, exercises, and high-intensity aerobic workout in a circuit to intensify strength and muscular endurance. When planning a course, it is essential to work with a diverse group of muscles, and the number of repetitions followed. Although you can concentrate your session on one particular section of the body, this method is ideal for complete body conditioning.

Circuit training gives more efficient results and increases your metabolism, as it combines the best of both worlds. It also breaks the streak of boring workout routines because it enables you to experiment with new exercises.

Interval Training

Interval training alternates between short bursts of high-intensity workout and periods of rest and recovery to promote the recovery rate, speed, and lactate threshold of the player’s body. In this method, the high-intensity periods are anaerobic exercises, and the recovery period can vary from complete rest to low-intensity activities.

Benefits of following this routine include faster and more efficient workout sessions – allowing your body to work more in limited time, reduces the risk of overtraining – since the intensity varies, it avoids the risk of overtraining and freedom to experiment with exercises.

Flexibility / Mobility Training

Flexibility training refers to a planned set of exercises that can gradually help expand the range of motions of a joint or set of joints. One way of enhancing flexibility is by following stretching techniques that focus on particular areas of the body. It is often pursued as a warm-up session before high-intensity workouts and weight training and is highly beneficial for all forms of sports, especially gymnastics and dance.

Weight Training

Weight training is a primary form of strength training that develops the size of skeletal muscles and power with the help of weighted bars, dumbbells, or weight stacks. A study shows that weight training doesn’t only control bone loss, but can also promote the formation of new bones in the body. Hence, it is essential for the overall development of the body.

Now, the amount of weight you stick to depends upon the repetitions you are planning to do; you will pick up heavier weights for six repetitions than for twelve.

Plyometric Training

Plyometric or jump training includes exercises in which the body exerts apex force in short intervals of time and focuses on muscle extension and contraction swiftly. Some primary activities in this technique are plyo pushups, box jumps, bounding, and depth jumps. It aims at improving muscular power that transmutes into higher jumps and longer sprints.

These are highly beneficial for martial artists, sprinters, volleyball players, and high jumpers.

Speed, Agility and Quickness Training (SAQ)

SAQ training aims at re-programming the athlete’s neuromuscular system; this further helps in enhancing multi-directional movements. Usually, professional athletes follow this method, but with its increased popularity, many amateurs are now taking up this method and incorporating it into their workout sessions.
Vital elements of the SAQ technique are sprints, high knees, mini hurdles, agility ring hops, and death jumps.

When it comes to sports training, following the popular opinion might not work very well in your favour, and can end up giving no to limited results. Therefore, explore all the options available and follow the one that offers you optimum outcomes and catalyzes your desired result.

At The Sports School, we provide our students with appropriate Progression Based Training depending on their games and objectives. Our highly efficient coaching teams consisting of renowned coaches, mentors, along with Nutritional and Fitness Experts challenge and support players at every level to improve their skills. We believe that every sports enthusiast and young sportsperson must understand their physical and mental capabilities to push their limits with every training session.

In Spotlight: Vickram Kanth | Indian Hockey Player

A young hockey enthusiast, holding the flag of India with the resolution to make his country proud in front of thousands of spectators in Karachi, was truly living his dream.

Vickram Kanth, born on 11 April 1987 in Coorg, Karnataka, is a former Indian field hockey player. Ever since Kanth was a kid, he felt inclined towards hockey, and his passion for the game grew with time. “I was born in Coorg, so over there kids naturally take up hockey as their first sport, instead of cricket as the rest of the country. My father was a hockey player himself, and as I saw him play growing up, I fell in love with the game,” he recollects while talking about his passion for the sport.

Kanth made a debut with the 2004 Junior Asia Cup, where the team displayed an overwhelming performance and backed a gold medal for the country. “My first match that I played in Karachi was the most memorable one for me. I’ve won many more matches, but because of the hype around India vs Pakistan, winning a tournament against them in their homeland made it very special,” he comments, looking back at his career. In the following year, he made his way to the 2005 Junior World Cup team.

Kanth made it big with his senior debut in the 2006 South Asian Games, winding up with a silver medal; post this, he caught national attention for his splendid game. In the following years, he represented India as a defender, starting from Asia Cup 2007, where the team held the Nation’s head high by bringing home a gold medal. Kanth has also been a part of the Sultan Azlan Cup in 2007 and 2008, backing bronze, and silver medals respectively.
In 2014, he headed the Indian team during the Bangladesh test series, and under his captaincy, India defeated Bangladesh in the three-match test series by a margin of 3-0.

Kanth’s International career came to a standstill after the tussle between Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Hockey India (HI). “I always had the frustration of not being part of the National camp. After the Chile disaster, the players were divided between IHF and HI, and there was a restriction on players participating in the World Series Hockey (WSH),” Kanth comments in an interview.

However, Kanth never gave up on the game entirely and continued his career in the Hero Hockey India League, wherein he has been a part of The Delhi Waveriders and represented the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd in domestic championships. Along with actively participating in domestic games, he often doubles up as a coach for young athletes.

“As an Ex-SAI trainee, whenever I find an opportunity to guide young players I do it. I enjoy playing mentor, correcting young players and teach them the right technique we learned in due course of our international career,” he further remarks, “the intention is to ensure these youngsters don’t repeat the same mistakes we did which was corrected only when we moved into the national program.”

It wasn’t until the introduction of Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway that Kanth was determined about his career as a coach. “Coaching was always on my mind, even after my international career ended, I enjoyed spending time with young players. But when Hockey India launched the program, I felt it was something I wanted to do. As the name (Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway) suggests, it provided me with a pathway to getting involved in the coaching setup, go through the right process, and understand the nuances of Coaching. It was new to me, and I enjoyed it,” he reveals to the media.

Vickram Kanth is also a member of The Sports School’s advisory board. The Sports School works towards educating young minds to prepare athletes of the future, who are ready to tackle the pressure of national and international matches. With his exceptional mentoring skills and extensive first-hand experience of the industry, Kanth imparts his knowledge to sports enthusiasts, ensuring that they don’t commit the same mistake as him and his counterparts.
“A lot of people drop out of sports because they lack the facilities and lose the balance between sports and education. I’ve met many parents who get confused between sports and academics, and don’t really know what is good for their kids. So, with an institution like The Sports School in their city, parents can freely enroll their kids, and this will help many budding sportspeople. As a sports person myself, I think it is my responsibility to take The Sports School to great heights and spread the word so that people use this opportunity and ultimately bring laurels to the country,” Kanth says while talking about The Sports School.