India women’s cricket team strength and conditioning coach Kavita Pandya trains UAE women cricketers at G Force Academy. Image Credit: G Force

Dubai. Kavita Pandya, one of India’s fastest sprinters who became the strength and conditioning coach of the India women’s cricket team, said women cricketers are now aiming to become as fit as Indian skipper Virat Kohli.

Pandya who is in the UAE to conduct a conditioning camp for G Force Academy also trained the UAE women’s cricket team and stressed on the importance of strength and conditioning in becoming a successful cricketer.

Speaking to Gulf News, Pandya, who was the India women’s strength and conditioning coach in three Twenty20 World Cups, one 50-over World Cup, Asia Cup and numerous One Day Internationals, said: “Strength and conditioning is one of the most important aspects in cricket today.

Though in the past it was not given much importance, after Kohli showed how one can be successful through fitness, the trend has changed. Kohli has now made strength and conditioning coaches popular and today women cricketers come and tell me that they want to train and get strong and fit like Kohli.”

Pandya, after consistently winning the 100m and 200m National Games gold medal and representing India in the Asian Grand Prix, chose to become a strength and conditioning coach in cricket after attending a few National Cricket Academy courses. “After I quit athletics I attended the National Cricket Academy courses.

Only a few passed the course and when a vacancy came at the Mumbai Cricket Association, I applied for it. Due to my sports background I got selected to train the under-19 and senior girls. In the same year I got to train the Indian team and remained part of the team from 2008.”

 Kohli has made strength and conditioning coaches popular and women cricketers come and tell me that they want to train and get strong and fit like Kohli.”

 - Kavita Pandya » Indian women cricket fitness coach 

Pandya has been working hard with the cricketers. “Indians genetically are not gifted with strength and when they went for international matches, because they were not superior in stamina and strength, it took away the matches they should have won. Lack of awareness on strength and conditioning was a drawback. Now the trend is changing and that can be seen in the performances,” she said.

The strength and conditioning sessions turned out be an eye-opener for the UAE women cricketers. “There is a lack of awareness about strengthening, though cricket today is an explosive power sport. Since the time T20 format has come in, the overall scenario has changed and strengthening has become really important.

Agility and speed is vital today because unlike earlier days one cannot be satisfied by taking singles. One needs to covert singles into twos and twos into threes as in today’s cricket one run often makes the difference between the winner and loser. Fielding is also vital and all these will be possible only through strength and conditioning sessions,” Pandya said.

When asked about the routine needed to get strong and fit, Pandya said: “I have seen Asians don’t have the culture of wanting to be fit, which is why I keep talking to people and telling players to work out atleast one hour every day. One should get into the gym or play some sport and be active.

Nutrition is also very important because even if you train hard, your food has to be healthy too. You need to follow a schedule as to when to eat. What I found here was that most were skipping breakfast for a heavy brunch. It is important to manage your eating time and try to eat home food most times,” she said.

Pandya picked Indian women’s team captain Mithali Raj and all-rounder Jhulan Goswami as examples. “Mithali and Jhulan have been able to play for so many years because of their hard work and fitness routine. Even if there is no camp they follow a diet and train without a break,” said Pandya, who also revealed her secret of being the fastest athlete in India.

“My competitor was my own time. I never dreamt of beating a particular athlete. All I aimed was to do better in the next competition and that motivation took me ahead. Women should realise that strengthening and hard work is not only for men. Everyone should try and get into a routine to be fit. Even if you don’t excel in sports, you will feel fitter in life.”