LUCKNOW: Athletics Federation of India (AFI) roped in German Volker Herrmann in June as high performance director, with Olympics in mind. After two months, Volker feels that India is capable of winning laurels. In a chat with this daily, he talks about technique, nutrition and other aspects that can make India world-beaters. Excerpts...
What do you think of India’s training methodology?
In the last few years, a lot of changes have happened with regards to training. The new method is based more on intensity rather than volume. It is more about quality than quantity and that has not yet fully made it to India. What we need to do is to guide our coaches through these methodologies.
What are the areas that need to be focussed on?
We have to focus on three different strategies. One is with regards to Tokyo 2020. We need to get in experts for biomechanics, nutrition and recovery. But it’s not easy to introduce significant change within a year.
We need to be patient and give athletes time to grasp everything. What we are really looking at is 2024. That is the second part. The athletes who will participate in 2024 are probably 17 or 18 now. We need to focus on the youngsters and especially their mindset.
You have to customise training. For example, in EPL, one team has seven or eight strength and conditioning coaches for different situations. That is what we should bring in. Individual attention.
The third one is the most important. Training is only one part. A lot of importance has to be given to what athletes are doing while they are not training. Their diet, sleep pattern and recovery. We have to better nutrition. The food that athletes are having is not 100 per cent in line with world standards. The intake of supplements needs to be in control. They have to take as much as necessary but as less as possible. We also have to educate our athletes so that they are more aware of these things.
How far behind is India in adopting new training methodologies?
The performance standards in world athletics are increasing in all events. In athletics, unlike other sports, you have exactly one or two days to peak. You have to be 100 per cent on these days. In javelin, one throw of 88m makes more sense than six throws of 82m. That is the philosophy that you need to bring in. The coaches should understand that and train accordingly. And my role is that of a consultant. I provide them with ideas to improve what we have got now.
What kind of a bond should a coach and athlete share?
There are no secrets in the world of sports. There are millions of articles on training and conditioning on the internet. Coaches can’t hide anything anymore. What they have to do is to give them the right content at the right moment.
Coaches have to help athletes with mental development apart from the physical side and techniques. They need to develop a better understanding and rapport. Its not just about knowledge. It’s about how coaches apply it. You need to develop a high level of self-reflection. They don’t have to be friends with the athletes but they need to understand needs.
What is your take on the facilities available in India?
I think we need at least one proper indoor training facility. In all the centres, we are depending a lot on weather conditions. There is a plan to establish a new track in T’puram. We are planning to shift the 400m runners from Patiala from December to February because it gets too cold there.