Sport

Srikanth is at a stage where players think: ‘My game is gone’

Srikanth in action against Lin Dan back in 2014.

Srikanth in action against Lin Dan back in 2014.   | Photo Credit: AP

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But here’s what he needs to turn it around: sharper in-game tactics and improved shot-selection; a physical conditioning programme that suits his body; the mental reassurance that he has beaten the best

In the last one year, there has been a dip in the performance of our top men’s singles players, especially K. Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy. Sai Praneeth has been doing reasonably better. Srikanth and Prannoy haven’t really done well after the sudden departure of Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo. And they have also been dealing with a lot of injuries. Srikanth also changed his equipment [early 2019]. I wouldn’t say the dip is because of that, but at the highest level, it does matter.

If you are not physically very confident about yourself, it’s tough. Srikanth is now not very confident of playing his shots. He is an attacking player, with a good approach to the net and can play very tight and good net shots. He has very good deceptive pushes from the net. He is not employing those well. And when he gets an opportunity to attack, he is reluctant to use his hard smashes, especially down the line, and he is trying the half-smashes which are being read very well. Once you are a top player, you are scouted well and others come prepared with their tactics and strategies.

So his physical training is the key. Now he is 26 and needs to find the training which suits his body. It has to perfectly sync with what he intends to do on court. The fitness coach needs to perfectly understand that and devise his off-court training programme accordingly. In the middle of the tournament season, there really is no time for fitness. So he has to maintain the current levels and work on his on-court confidence. He needs support with some good sparring and that’s Gopi’s responsibility.

It’s a stage in Srikanth’s career at which young players, who have nothing to lose and are hoping to make a mark on the big stage, will have a go at him and put tremendous pressure. So he needs to be in good spirits. Mentoring is important. It is the sort of time when players start thinking: ‘My game is completely gone. I cannot play’. What Srikanth needs to be told is that he has beaten the best of the players. There aren’t many in world badminton at present who haven’t lost to him. He needs that reassurance.

(As told to N. Sudarshan)

U. Vimal Kumar is a two-time National champion and Dronacharya award-winning coach

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 3:36:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/srikanth-is-at-a-stage-where-players-think-my-game-is-gone/article30221515.ece

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