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Homework in Lockdown: Online Coaching, Progress Monitoring for India’s Boxers

An unprecedented nine Indian boxers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics before the Games were pushed to 2021. With no sport likely to happen for a while, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) is conducting online coaching, via the Zoom app, for the athletes under its wings. The idea is to guide, motivate and train them to come out of the lockdown well-positioned to get back in the ring.
Covid-19 lockdown: Indian boxers to undergo training online using video conferencing with coaches and support crew

The online coaching sessions for Indian boxers would be in the form of video conferences that will be conducted on a daily basis via zoom app.

As the coronavirus pandemic has halted all sports events and training in the country, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has taken the initiative to keep its pugilists fit with the help of online video conferences in order to monitor, guide and motivate them in these trying times.  

Keeping in mind that the athletes have been training for a long time before the camps were called off, BFI President Ajay Singh, in a conference with boxers on Sunday, briefed them about the importance of this online initiative. "This is a challenging time for all of us and is all the more a reason for us to take care of ourselves. Stay fit, continue with the exercises as directed by the coaches and try to maintain your weights as much as possible. We will tide over this crisis soon and get back to the ring but staying motivated in the meantime is absolutely necessary," he said.

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BFI has put together a team of coaches and support staff, including doctors and physios, to take care of the needs of the boxers. The online sessions would be in the form of video conferences that will be conducted on a daily basis via zoom app. 

Online training, however, is easier said than done. And when the sport is as technical as boxing, forget the fact that the trainees are all elite athletes, many issues might pop up. Newsclick spoke to Santiago Nieva, performance director of the BFI. We asked how coaches are planning and managing training sessions and what are the challenges that athletes might face.

Nieva said the workout schedule has been designed for boxers who have qualified for the Olympics as well as those who will compete in the remaining categories once competition resumes. Assistant coaches with the national team setup have been instructed to monitor the progress of their charges with each coach handling two or three fighters. 

“The assistant coaches have been asked to make representative videos of the necessary exercises as mentioned by the Performance Directors in the weekly training schedules for players, and the boxers have to follow those and continue with their training,” Nieva added.

“The workout videos need to be submitted (by the boxers) on a WhatsApp group created for this purpose. The coaches will monitor these videos and provide feedback or corrective inputs where necessary,” Nieva elaborated.

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Games-bound boxer, Ashish Kumar (75kg), welcomed the step taken by BFI. “At such times, sport takes a backseat. But it is also crucial for us sportspeople not to lose track of our goals. This daily video conference will motivate us all.” he added.

While discussing the challenges during the lockdown situation Ashish said, “Of course, we cannot train the way we would like to. However, we are trying to maintain and do whatever is feasible while staying indoors. Our diet also gets affected. But it is a small price we are paying in this unprecedented time. We are all fighting this together and far more urgent is to beat the virus and stop the spread.” 

“The coaches have drawn-up physical training and drill schedules that all of us are following for the last few weeks and now, with the online sessions, I am confident that we will have more frequent discussions and am looking forward to it,” said the boxer.

Apart from the national team, the BFI plans to extend the online coaching to upcoming boxers in its fold. A BFI spokesperson said, “Close to 300 boxers across all age categories will be engaged to pull off these “e-pathshalas”. Nutritional guidance has also been shared with the players. We all hope to tide these hard times and get back to training soon.”

At the Asian qualifiers in Jordan earlier this month, nine Indians qualified for the Tokyo Games, rescheduled to be held from July 23, 2021 to August 8 (as of now).  MC Mary Kom (51 kgs), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovelina Borgohain (69kg), Pooja Rani (75kg), Amit Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), and Satish Kumar (+91kg)  had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics which has now been postponed to 23 july- 8 August 2021.

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