1st January 2022

Fitness = 3 M’s

Musculoskeletal I Mind I Metabolic Machinery

After diving deep into subjects around human health; I am of the view that regardless of what we do, how we train, what we eat…’health’ is much more complicated than I thought it to be on the onset. I am often misunderstood to be over qualified or inappropriately qualified; but trust me when I say, knowledge is fearless and it has no boundaries. I can not unlearn what I have learnt over the years just to please a senior or the interviewer and therefore, what comes across as wrong from science perspective to me, it is wrong no matter who is saying it.

2021 is been a year when I dived deeper in Mind, Metabolism, and Musculoskeletal to find the connect at a deeper level. It was incidental that I had to work, simultaneously at times, with a client for lower back pain, with another for neural issues, and a few for speed & power. And if this was not enough…I had to almost re-learn/restudy brain when I had to go through the toughest phase of my life looking for brain neuroplasticity.

Ques: Who is a fitness/health expert?

Ans: Somebody who makes you fitter (from whatever angle you are approaching) after working with you. Somebody who makes you improve in the work you do physically. Somebody who makes you believe in you (mind). And finally somebody who understand different aspects of health to be your guide.

Example: If you are a slow mover/fielder then you should become faster if you are training. Period. You can’t enter the sport as slow and then retire as slow. You have done nothing (if not improved) even though you may have clocked 5000 hours of training. The game requires you to be fast. Become one. Do not find your solace in a training that doesn’t compliment what is required by your body.

This was my understanding when I ventured in the field of fitness and started studying. However, what I never realised, never could honestly…was that you need to be an idiot sometimes to keep people happy. The more i dived deeper, the further I kept going away from being that ‘idiot’. It took me lot of time to digest the fact that performances may not count at times. Coming from corporate world 10 years back – senior management in a multinational company; I only believed in performance. But in sports what also counts is who you are working for…who is your friend who can recommend you…how you can find a job NOT via your ‘work’ but by knowing the system in the real world etc. etc.. Not necessarily everybody has to go through it but yes, it matters! This to me was the hardest part to accept. People think studying complex neural circuits or brain or anatomy is hardest. It is not. It’s not the neural circuit at play here…it is your friend circle also 🙂

Anyway…its been 10 years and I have accepted it and moved on. Not to mention I have several friends (all coaches and anyone I have worked with) who would vouch for me too. It takes time is been my learning. However, I entered this field because of my passion and therefore, regardless, I enjoy learning more & more….enjoy my work…set high targets, and love the fearlessness that it brings in me. Knowledge is key to me. This background is important to understand my thinking process – how to make somebody their best version (improve them) in the given time and situation. This demanded me to study deeper and inadvertently made me dive into different subjects of human fitness. And how can I measure if what I am doing works? Results…results…and results. That is the only parameter in my learning.

Today I will briefly mention 4 studies from 4 consecutive seasons to explain the difference between regularly training and training to your body requirements. There is a huge difference between the two.

Interestingly, I have been in touch with a few of my students last few days and where I was saddened by their performances; I understood their limitations. Here are real time case studies:

  1. U23 Fast bowler: 2018

I saw this bowler first day in the nets and couldn’t stop myself. I approached my coach and said – this guy has phenomenal potential and I think he can be really good. He gave his nod to that and I started working with him by telling him on the very 1st day itself that he can become the highest wicket taker of the season.

Result – he not only became the highest wicket taker that season (52 wickets) but also become the fastest. Of course, all my coaches contributed to improve a bowler from skill perspective. I add things beyond that from physical perspective.

Today – after a couple of years, the boy couldn’t make it even in the probables of state. Unbelievable if you ask me!! Even though he is fit – all my athletes stay fit even after leaving me, but he has lost that sharpness somewhere.

2) U19 fast bowler:

I made a fast bowler rest in 3rd match after speaking to the coach who agreed looking at his condition. However, I told the boy that he will still become the highest wicket taker in the season and this break will make him achieve it.

Result – he became the highest wicket taker of U19 season that season besides playing a match less. Whereas this year (grown 2 years in btw) having more power biologically, he looked slow to me. The results havent been great either bowling wise.

He is been training and playing all this while. Then why?

3) Senior team fast bowler:

Training under me, he touched his peak and eventually became a net bowler for team India on one of the tours. A bowler with a track record of injuries did not get injured the entire season last year. Played all matches and bowled phenomenally well.

Today: His performance have come down significantly and he had to be rested in matches this season.

4) Senior team fast bowler: 2021/22

While the season is still on and we are heading into ‘days’ games. One day games were washed out due to rain. Anyway…I had to do what I have to do. Been working with a fast bowler who has also played IPL.

Day he joined the squad: He was carrying a back pain (on & off) since his IPL trials last year. He could play but couldn’t bring his best out because of this would be my guess.

Now: No pain…he is bowling fantastically well. As per him…he is in his peak form currently and most likely, all of you would see him prospering this year in season as well as IPL am sure.

Having said all that…I love these boys and am always assisting them whenever they speak to me or meet me in person. I quoted these examples to give us a very good and confirmed idea that fitness plays a very important role in fast bowlers/players. They will swing back am sure at some stage even without me. Provided they understand what was behind their performance and make a serious effort towards that.

If one thing I would like to give to young sportsmen today, it would be this: try to understand the process…keep seeking improvement and if you are not getting it then hold back, rethink, consult…and then approach the subject again. Do not live with the ordinary while you can improve. Because only when you seek to improve that you can sustain your existing form.

Learning’s:

For me: This is an unending subject and I will continue to study. Keep focus on my work and keep transforming the lives wherever I can.

For players: You should not discontinue what made you. I understand the limitations that you can’t follow the same regime or training owing to lack of knowledge; but NEVER FORGET, what made you. Good training is a must regardless of who is training you. It should work for you. Period.

Next case study: will present another case study of 2021/22 after our days games. I am sure I will produce another highest wicket taker this season. Or am confident.

Achievement: 3 back to back cricket seasons with no injuries. Into my 4th

Conclusion: One must work in all dimensions of fitness if they are looking to achieve their best performance.

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist