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Sports Training

'Be a Ferrari, not Maruti 800': Physical trainer Gaurav Nijhon to young athletes

Nijhon has a wealth of experience in managing top athletes. He fashioned the fitness and well-being of renowned names such as Ankita Raina, and Olympic-level wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, Amit Dahiya, and Geeta Phogat.

Be a Ferrari, not Maruti 800: Physical trainer Gaurav Nijhon to young athletes

Gaurav Nijhon with Indian tennis player Ankita Raina (right).  


Navneet Oberoi

Published: 24 Dec 2023 11:35 AM GMT

A strength and conditioning coach plays a pivotal role in fostering the holistic fitness and swift movement skills of an athlete. Gaurav Nijhon succinctly defines his role as someone who takes care of athletes' well-being.

Nijhon has a wealth of experience in managing top athletes. He fashioned the fitness and well-being of renowned names such as Ankita Raina, India's top-ranking WTA player at 148, and Olympic-level wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, Amit Dahiya, and Geeta Phogat.

Presently, Nijhon, who has his own training facility, is channelling his expertise to promising talents like Ritvik Bollipalli and Arjun Kadhe.

A well-designed strength and conditioning programme, according to Nijhon, is a comprehensive blend of movements tailored to enhance an athlete's strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, and endurance – all specific to the demands of their respective sports.

“A well-designed strength and conditioning programme combines scientific principles with practical application to help individuals or athletes achieve their specific goals while minimizing the risk of injury and optimizing overall performance and health," Nijhon told The Bridge in an interview.

Drawing from his extensive experience, he said, “Multiple junior and senior athletes have benefited from a strenght and condioning sessions. The changes in junior athletes can be seen instantly where they feel much more stable on court, they recover between the points faster and have benefited by playing major tournaments by staying injury free”.

Nijhon also added that strength training helps in the longevity of athletes.

He employs a vivid analogy, urging the youth to aspire to be "Ferraris" in the sporting world, not to be “Maruti 800”.

He said, "I love this analogy of a Maruti 800 car running at 200km/hr, it’s going to break someday. Now put the same analogy in a more sport specific environment, where most of the players are playing tournaments so frequently without developing a sound athletic base leading to career ending injuries. BE A FERRARI! Develop a good engine (strength), condition your joints (develop good brakes) & work on getting faster & explosive!”.

Tailor-made programme

Nijhon also emphasizes the importance of tailoring strength and conditioning programmes to meet individual athletes' specific needs. Whether they are baseliners, serve-and-volley players, or all-court athletes, the training must align with the unique demands of the sport.

The coach likens the process to solving a puzzle, where understanding both the sport and the intricacies of each player is essential.

“While crafting a strength and conditioning programme for tennis players, it is essential to grasp these specific demands. It is akin to solving a puzzle: understanding the sport's requirements and tailoring training to suit each player's unique needs," he stated.

Talking of changes, he said that technological advancements, such as the incorporation of force plates and GPS technology, have added new dimensions to strength and conditioning. These innovations provide valuable insights into an athlete's force and power profiles, ground contact times, and distance covered during practice sessions helping coaches to monitor the players accordingly.

Opportunity to detect talent early

Addressing India's aspirations for global sporting excellence, Nijhon said, “For our nation to vie competently on a global scale, it becomes imperative to construct our sports science ecosystem. This ongoing effort is critical as it lays the groundwork for enhancing athletic potential in individuals and collectively strengthens our sporting infrastructure”.

"With the rise of sports science, there's an opportunity to detect talent at an early age," he added.

To make strength and conditioning programmes accessible at the grassroots level, Nijhon underscores this by saying, “It is crucial to increase awareness among parents and skill coaches about the significance of these programs. Educating them about the role and impact of strength coaches can significantly elevate athlete’s performances in their respective sports”.

Advising upcoming strength and conditioning individuals, he said, “To boost your job opportunities in the field, consider obtaining certification from a reputable association. Explore renowned universities offering Bachelor's or Master's programs in this field. Continuously seek professional development opportunities and stay updated on emerging trends”.

“Remember, while education is valuable, it doesn't solely secure a job. Find a reliable mentor and learn through practical experience. Pursuing a career in Strength & Conditioning is thrilling, but it's essential to collaborate with mentors to gain hands-on experience and maintain your fitness levels," he added.

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