Hockey players are the fittest sportspersons on the planet.
Indian hockey wizards are among the top five fittest teams in world hockey.
That would make Indians among the top five fittest sportsmen in the world.
Quite an achievement.
Would you believe it?
You would , if you had been watching the Hockey World Finals third-fourth place encounter between Team India and the Netherlands last evening.
10 exhilarating goals pumped in 60 minutes followed by a thrilling penalty shoot-out.
Indian hockey has come a far way and fans can start to believe again that we may just have a medal round the corner at the Rio Olympics.
The School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences of Loughborough University, UK conducted a study that compared three team sports—hockey, rugby 7s and football (soccer).
The two main criteria for measuring fitness were distance run during a game and intensity maintained while running.
Field hockey players were discovered to cover more distance and work at a higher intensity than their counterparts in the other two sports.
A rugby player covers 94 metres, a footballer 125 metres and a hockey player a whopping 140 metres in a minute.
The study said:
“Where a football player spends just nine per cent of the game working at an intensity that sees the heart-rate reaching 85-90 per cent of its maximum, a hockey player can sustain that work rate for 30-40 per cent of the game. A rugby player works at a high intensity for 20 per cent of the game.”
While a hockey player may cover eight to nine kilometres in a game, a soccer player covers an average of over 10 kms per match. The difference lies in the time taken: 60 minutes versus 90 minutes.
As early as April this year, Team India’s physical trainer, Australian Matthew Eyles claimed that the men’s side were among the top five fittest nations.
“Physically they (Indian players) have improved a lot. When I got here 18 months ago, they were good, lot of them were very good natural athletes but now they have developed a good base. I think any strength and conditioning coach can’t feel content, they always want more from their athletes.
Their speed is good, endurance in good. They are looking really sharp at the moment. So I am happy with them.
I don’t think we are the fittest side at the moment. It’s hard to compare. Australia and New Zealand are always physically good sides. But I think we can definitely match any team now.
In my opinion definitely we can consider India among top five nations on fitness front in world hockey.”
Eyles did not take all the credit for the transformation.
He said he just focused on the basics as the base had been built four years ago with Michael Nobbs in charge and David John as the trainer.
“When I arrived here I first assessed the fitness level of the players and then followed standard process. I just tried to develop their base and then build them up from there.
I did just progressive things. We built a good base early on and then managed to just keep topping that up. We focused more on the speed and agility, and that got better and better. We have done a lot of work on the pitch and they are getting stronger. They have got a decent strength base.
There is always room for improvement but currently we are in a very good place.”
Eyles named Dharamvir Singh as the fittest player in the team then.
Naming the fittest sportspersons is a tricky debate.
You have to make sure you have the criteria right.
Jeff Potteiger, dean of Graduate Studies and a faculty member in the Movement Science department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, believes that
body composition (level of body fat),
muscular strength and
would complete the list of items to weigh.
Who do you think are the fittest sportspersons?