Personal trainer Thangavel emphasises why proper training techniques are vital to prevent injuries suffered by sportspersons
Worse than lack of exercise is exercise that’s done haphazardly. This wisdom is usually ignored, surprisingly, even by sportspersons. “As their pursuits involve unnatural physical exertion, sportspersons are prone to injury. If they don’t follow proper training methods, it adds to their injuries,” says Thangavel, who straddles two worlds, as an athlete and a physical trainer.
With encouragement from P.V. Ravannan, athletic coach at YMCA Sports School, Thangavel turned athlete at 15. He joined Indian Bank on the sports quota at 21. Time has not snuffed out the lambent flame of his passion. At 41, he is still an active athlete. Three months ago, he went to Lahiti, Finland for the World Masters Athletics Championships. In the 40-to-44 age group, he won the bronze in the 4x100 metre relay, finished seventh in high jump (“But for those four fouls, I would have finished third”) and sixth in triple jump. Earlier in the year, Thangavel had a haul of two gold medals (high jump and triple jump) and a bronze (long jump) at the Asian Masters Athletics Championships at Chiang Mai, Bangkok.
Thangavel counts his training style among his strengths. “I don’t face training-induced injuries,” he says. “It is not so much the fact that I train myself as the methods used that guard me from such injuries.”
Rest and recovery
He goes on to explain how a scientific training methodology attaches much importance to rest and recovery. “An athlete has to be trained according to the ‘periodisation’ cycle. Stages in the cycle include off-season, pre-season, in-season (when the competition is under way) and post-season. Tasks and training volumes vary from one season to another,” says Thangavel.
His training became scientific after he went through a string of international trainer-certification courses. His fund of knowledge comes from American Council of Exercise (ACE) and the U.S.-based National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). While ACE has authorised him to serve as a personal trainer, the NSCA has named him a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who can work with sportspersons. He was introduced to these programmes by BAR, a study circle run by Shankar Basu, Radha, Dr. Kannan Pughazendhi and Shiny.
“These courses help a coach to be specific. Each sport demands a different energy level. T-20 cricket calls for an energy level different from that required for the longer versions of the game. Similarly, tennis calls for something else. A coach’s challenge is to evaluate the sport and the strengths and weaknesses of each sportsperson and prepare a viable training programme.”
Thangavel trained Chemplast’s cricket team from 2006 to 2007 and has been helping out Rajeev Vijayakumar’s tennis trainees at Nungambakkam.