DETAILED INDIVIDUALISED TRAINING TO TARGET IMPROVED PERFORMANCES AT RELIANCE FOUNDATION ODISHA ATHLETICS HPC
Having registered as many as 100 Personal Bests (PBs) at the Sprint and Middle distance Fest over four competitions in October and November, athletes from the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Centre (HPC) in Bhubaneswar return to training later this month eager to build on that momentum. Based on data from the previous training year and in-depth screening, Head coach James Hillier and his team have plans in place to build further on the individualised training programmes in place for the athletes, tailored to the specific needs of each individual. The intention is to ensure they are meticulously prepared to perform at their best at the most important competitions scheduled over the course of the next year.
“Athletics is all about competitions therefore when the athletes are training, they must always have half an eye on the competition that they are preparing for,” explains Hillier. “The training goes from more general at the start of the year to more specific as the athletes get closer to competitions.”
“We will create a periodised annual plan that includes a general preparation phase where athletes are working to develop the key motor skills needed for performance - speed, strength, endurance, flexibility and coordination; a specific endurance phase where we start to prepare our athletes to excel in their respective events; and then an early season, main and peak competition period.”
Athletes from the HPC, a collaborative effort of the Odisha Government and the Reliance Foundation, have already started to make heads turn. Sprinter Amlan Borgohain clocked a PB of 21.20 seconds in the 200m at the Sprint and Middle distance Fest, making him the fastest in the country for the year. Local girl Sabita Toppo, still only 15 years old, achieved four PBs in six races and has now improved her timing by more than two seconds in her favoured 100m hurdles event since coming on board at the HPC, clocking 14.54 seconds.
“The early results achieved by the HPC athletes are an indicator of the steady progress made, as well as, a sign of positive things to come,” says Vishal K Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Sports & Youth Services, Odisha. “The entire Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics HPC team has put in commendable efforts over the last year or so, including the lockdown period, on all fronts to help the athletes achieve personal bests.”
With the schedule severely impacted in 2020 due to Covid-19, the coaching staff at the HPC are hopeful athletes will have more competitions to participate in over the coming year. With that objective in mind, the periodised plan will enable their conditioning in a manner that will allow them to handle higher intensities and progressive overload required in each subsequent training phase of the year without getting injured.
As an illustration of this method, Hillier points to the diet plan that has been designed. At the start of the year, athletes will be taking in more carbohydrates as they need more energy to handle the high volume of workload. However, as competitions approach, they move to a more protein-based diet to ensure they lose excess body weight and increase their lean body muscle mass percentage.
Hillier believes that the learnings gathered from the first year of the HPC’s operations will be invaluable, insisting his wards are “completely unrecognisable” from the time they joined, both physically and mentally. Over the next few months, the target is to “fully maximise” their strengths, while focusing on areas that require further improvement.
“At the HPC we have a philosophy that puts the human being first, the athlete second and the specific event they do third,” he says. “For example, each athlete will go through a rigorous functional movement screen at the start of each year. The results of this screen will identify any movement dysfunction that the athlete might have. After in-depth discussions with the performance team, we will then identify individual exercises that can be incorporated into an athlete's programme to help improve the identified dysfunction or strengthen specific parts of the body to reduce injury risk and improve performance.”
Although it has only been a little over a year since formal training began at the HPC, the innovative approach adopted by Hillier and his team has already shown encouraging signs, pointing to a bright future for athletes from the facility.
“Looking ahead, we hope to build on the strong foundation laid by the HPC in the first year and make significant strides towards the development of the athletes,” says Dev. “The main objective of setting up this HPC is to create an institution that will produce the best athletes in the country. We hope that the athletes continue on this path of holistic progress.”
“We hope domestic competitions resume in the coming year,” he adds. “We are hopeful that the work put in by the athletes in this year will translate to medal-winning performances at AFI competitions.”