Puducherry coach Kalpendra Jha talks about the importance of fitness

(Cricket news) Kalpendra Jha is a cricket strength and conditioning coach who is currently working with the Puducherry cricket team. He was previously the strength and conditioning coach of the Rajasthan U-16 team. In the past two seasons, Kalpendra has been working with the Puducherry cricket team who surprised the cricketing world with wins over big guns Mumbai, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. Kalpendra's Puducherry side is currently competing in the 2022/23 edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy where they aim to better their heroics of last season.

In an exclusive interview, Kalpendra Jha talks about his experience of working with the Puducherry cricket team for the past two seasons. He also gives some valuable advice to young budding cricketers about fitness, about the process of doing his job and what role he plays when dealing with serious injuries and mental well being of the players.

Q1) How has your experience been working with Pondicherry's senior cricket team?

It has been a very different experience. I’m a certified strength and conditioning coach from Rajasthan and when I first went to Pondicherry, it took some time to get used to the humid climate. The team had recently defeated Mumbai and Tamil Nadu so it was a really good experience. None of the players got injured last year and to assess the fitness of the squad, I conducted a few strength and aerobic tests. It helped me understand the condition and capacities of the players. Cricket Association of pondicherry
has amazing facilities including 8 grounds with Floodlights, good gym facilities and the board is very supportive.

Q2) What are the do's and don'ts for a budding cricketer?

When an aspiring player starts cricket, they understand from the Under 14 or Under 16 level about the various obstacles that they will have to face, how to remain mentally tough and maintain their physical fitness. Irrespective of whether you’re a man or a woman, taking the right nutrition to perform at your optimal capacity are lessons that aspiring cricketers are taught. In terms of don’ts, anything that harms the fitness of the player must be avoided and being in a positive environment is very beneficial. 

Q3) How do you design a fitness regime and does it differ from player to player?

It’s important to understand if the player has suffered an injury in the past in a specific area as it can be aggravated in the future. Speaking to the player about rehabilitation and the amount of prehabilitation that they have already done is very important as that’s how I understand how to get the best out of the player during pre-season. These steps help ensure that players don’t suffer from injuries during the tournament and they can perform at their 100% capacity. Every player is different, a fast bowler requires a reactive strength training regime which include drop balls, plyometric exercises, broad jumps, squats etc which are very beneficial.

Q4) How important is mental health for a cricketer or any sportsman and what do you do to better a player's mental well-being?

Basically, the players have certain mood swings depending on their performance, I have to see that they are not under any kind of stress as off the field stress tends to affect the players performance. I speak to the players and set up a proper training regime as I don't want my players to get injured in the training session itself. 

Q5) How do you handle a player who has suffered a serious injury?

The process is quite difficult but our team physio tends to figure out some kind of previous injuries when they run the tests. If the player suffers an injury it is our duty to make sure he comes back on the field as soon as possible. We as fitness coaches tend to speak to the player and the physio before setting up a proper rehab training. If there are small injuries on the field we tend to take care of it but if the injury is serious we have to take advice from the physiotherapist.

Q6) What fitness advice would you give to young kids who want to play professional cricket?

As a strength and conditioning coach I want to say that every budding athlete needs to build up athleticism. I always suggest that young athletes train with a person who has knowledge about things like weight training, cardio etc. I feel recovery is the important thing as coaches we always suggest not to overwork your body.

Also read: My aim is to play for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy: Aneesh K.V.


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