Exclusive || Man behind Sharath Kamal’s success story at CWG 2022- Ramji Srinivasan

New Delhi: MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Achanta Sharath Kamal, Leander Peas, and Narain Karthikeyan are some of the notable athletes who have defied their age in the quest to achieve incredible milestones in their career while setting everlasting benchmarks for the game. These sportspersons have pushed themselves into rigorous physical and mental training to attain the highest level of capabilities and to deliver extraordinary results.

To aid that training, Mr. Ramji Srinivasan, former strength and conditioning coach of World cup Winning Indian cricket team, Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and currently the Founder & Director of Sports Dynamix has been working extensively with several atheltes in the country and horning their potential. Mr. Sharath Kamal, who won three gold medals and one silver in four different competitions at CWG 2022 speaks highly of Mr. Ramji Srinivasan and credits him for his physical fitness excellence.

The Quotes, got candid with Mr. Srinivasan to understand about his process, his observations on the evolution of sports in the country and how players are overcoming their age factor in order to achieve medals for the country.

Q] CWG-Gold medalist Achanta Sharath has credited you for his unprecedented performance in recently concluded CWG-2022. We do believe that ‘age is just a number’ but still age does affect one’s body. kindly help us to understand what was like to train and groom a 40-year-old athlete to compete amongst the mightiest of the game with age by their side.

First of all, the Trust what the players have is of utmost importance. we are extremely delighted to witness such an incredible performance from Sharath at Commonwealth Games. He completely defied age which is often regarded as a stumbling block for all the athletes. We at Sports Dynamix never promise what we cannot deliver, it’s a team work which produces results involving various professionals in the process.

Sharath Kamal, recipient of Arjuna Award

Speaking of our process, we primarily believe in understanding the physical and mental capabilities of the athletes and simultaneously identify the parameters of an individual in order to peak at the right time in the tournament. I would like to mention here that these processes are followed to achieve long terms goals, and required clear vision for every athlete. Sharath has been associated with me from quite some time now and we were earlier preparing for Tokyo Olympics but as it got postponed, we were stuck half-way down the path as we had not major tournament ahead of us to evaluate the capabilities of the 40-year-old.

But we kept our training towards enhancing the physical parameters intact and didn’t let any negative thought overcome our process. One of the crucial aspects which always works really well for Sharath is that he constantly asks questions and take keen interest in learning the motive behind any training program and the processes. He is an extremely passionate sportsman who believes in contributing everything he has in order to win.

To compete against world class athletes half his age at an international level is a remarkable achievement cutting across any sport in the world. Kudos to his grit and determination in achieving this feat.

I would like to mention here regarding Sharath’s mental training process was spot on with the professional Mental conditioning expert guiding him. She has done an excellent job and she need to be congratulated and acknowledged too.

Q] Do you think you guys achieved what you aspired? Mr. Sharath Kamal has recently confessed that he would like to participate in Paris Olympics 2024. He will be 42 by then, do you think he will remain equally competitive?

Answer: The team is proud of our players. Apart from Sharath, Sathiyan Gnana Sekaran is another world class paddler who trains at Sports Dynamix. Both these players did exceptionally well in The Games 2022 and we have high hopes from them in future as well. Sharat and Sathiyan have a great synergy and we are sure they would bring in more laurels for our country at the highest level in the future. We have quite a few talented Indian TT players training at Sports Dynamix to name a few Manush, Manav Thakkar, Prayesh, Suhana Saini, Balamurugan, Sudhanshu and many more preparing for the future.

I have always been a believer of the smart training instead of sweating out for hours or making the players throw up or hyper ventilate to prove our competence (laughs).

Making an Adaptable athlete is the key to success. Pushing the players to their max limit with some reserve energy makes a huge difference in understanding the athlete’s recovery zone and mind set.

As we have started our preparation for The Asian Games 2023 and Paris Olympics 2024, we are focusing on keeping the basics intact.  I have always told all the players to work extensively hard on their basics and build the foundation over it. The concept of going back to the basics would vary according to the age and professional scale where they are? Have to be mindful in what we call basics?

Speaking of Sharath being 42-year-old by Paris Olympics, I have read somewhere that Sharath confessed of feeling the fittest while he was competing at Commonwealth Games 2022. Such belief speaks volumes of an individual’s physical and mental fitness. The synergy between the body and mind is directly proportional to the result, Sharath was in that zone. We are positive of his participation in Paris Olympics and hoping that he will deliver similar results as he did in CWG 2022. Work in progress each day with a goal in mind and leave the rest out

Q] You have served Indian national cricket team as a strength and conditioning coach and successful franchises like Mumbai Indians and CSK in IPL. Kindly shed some light on the process which players at such stage indulge into or adapt to stay relevant and produce the best results under so much pressure.

First and foremost, I feel gifted to have been part of the legendary team with legendary players of the game. Being part of the history in winning the World cup in 2011 and Champions trophy in 2013, cannot ask for more in the world of Cricket.

Players embarked on to the fitness regime like fish to the water when I took over in 2009. All of them had Short, Mid and Long-term goals in their game and physicals, so it was easy to embark on it. All the players adhered to a good disciplined process, be it Diet or Yoga or Fitness or Massage sessions. There was a system in place introduced, and the foundation was set up, which was built on by the subsequent team which took over. Intelligent players are the key in the process and protocols to be successful, that can be verified by the results.

Been a nearly decade since I moved out of the team due to personal reasons, there has been a considerable shift in embarking and adopting fitness by the cricketers from their young age. The players have become much fitter now due to varied reasons with a dynamic vertical improvement in Sports Science, Qualified Support Staff, Sports Medicine Doctors, Sports Nutritionist, Technology intervention and other vital cogs in the wheel.

As I mentioned earlier, Adaptable athletes are the successful athletes anywhere in the world. May sound Darwinian, but that’s the truth of the matter.

Three formats of the game require a different level of mental and physical preparation, and also specific to specific skill set. Just see the number of permutations and combinations?? It’s an art in designing a program to suit the needs of the players at every stage of their season with proper goals and process in place.

We shall take one format as an example now.

T20 is the most challenging and demands highest level of mental endurance from players due to the rate of which game changes. So many variables can happen in a jiffy, quick adaptation is the key which can be the difference between winning and losing. Adaptation both mentally and physically is the key here. Proper Recovery process is the key in keeping the players robust during the T20 season without any injuries adding to this the physios and massage therapist are working overtime to keep the players fit for the whole season. Kudos to them. As we all keep talking about the fitness level increment, there has been a huge increase in the injuries of the players, which is an important topic to be addressed.  

Q] Two of the most remarkable comebacks in Indian cricket right now is Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik. One has proved everyone wrong with his sheer determination to play for the nation i.e., Hardik. Meanwhile, Karthik is defying the definition of age in the game of cricket. As someone who has closely observed the sports from close quarters, what do you think worked so well for both of them.

Answer: The whole credit goes to both the players. It’s a testimony of their sheer dedication and perseverance to perform for the nation and the number of hard yards both have had put in during their darkest days. I have seen some remarkable athletes going through rigorous training and several process in order to achieve feats and I must say that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Never give up attitude is the mind-set of the winners.

Speaking of Hardik Pandya, he is one of the smartest cricketers in the current crop and has the best understanding of what his body demands and how to deliver it. Looking at him the way he is performing, I must say that he has worked extensively hard on his fitness and he completely deserves round of applause for that, along with the support staff who helped him achieve this result.  Awesome game changing player need to be preserved to last long on all formats of the game.

Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik has a very unique approach towards cricket. He is not the kind of a guy who will spend hours into gym but he does lot of practice and put hard yard in honing his skills and capabilities. He has honed his power hitting skills due to which he has become so relevant in the shortest format of the game. Karthik has reinvented himself and I am confident that he is ready to play for the nation for couple of more years. Fantastic mind set and a very talented player India has seen.

Q] You have helped Sharath Kamal to stand at the podium four times at the age of 40. Dinesh Karthik is another athlete who is making waves in his respective sport at the age 37. Dhoni’s reflexes at 41 are still capable enough to turn the game around. There are several sportsmen who are defying the logic of age in their respective sports. As a curator of one of the success stories mentioned above, kindly share a message for all those out there who want to break the ceiling but stuck with the age factor.

The simple idea is to acknowledge the age factor and don’t be ignorant of it. It’s totally a natural process all goes through.as a professional sportsperson, one need to be mindful in understanding the game through their experience and work on finer aspects of it, bet it fitness or diet or recovery or mental conditioning.

Shut oneself from social media experts on Strength and conditioning, Fitness gurus, Nutritionist, Physios, Mental conditioning experts and many are there short of being noble Laurent’s (laughs). If we have so many self-proclaimed experts or game changers, we should be harvesting rich haul of gold medals every time we compete at an international level. Aspiring sports persons need to understand these are branding and marketing tools and many may not be genuine.

Approach genuine professionals to help out on the goals and aspirations. Rest will fall in its place.

REDS principle-RECOVERY/EXERCISE/DIET/SLEEP is a simple procedure to follow. Developing a Reading habit which can be a remarkable tool for relaxation, improved mind set and recovery and to think out of the box when least expected.

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