Ahead of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-22 double-header between India and Spain on February 26 and 27, stand-in captain Savitra Punia and vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka addressed a virtual press conference in Bhubaneswar, Odisha wherein they detailed their preparation, workout routine and training sessions.

Team India got off to a strong start in the Pro League, winning both of their games against China in Muscat, Oman. The duo stated that they will be looking to continue the winning momentum against Spain.

The team found great success under Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne and impressed at the Tokyo Olympics, narrowly missing out on the Bronze medal. However, the team is looking to begin the calendar year and embark on new challenges in their Pro League debut under coach Janneke Schopman.

The captain also stated that their intensity to ensure fitness and training sessions remained a highlight under both the Marijne and Schopman management. Currently, the team is undergoing hard training sessions in Bhubaneswar.

“In a green session, the workout is relatively light. We practice the penalty corner attack and the shoot out. It can be a little tough on the goal keeper though. It lasts for about one and a half hours,” she said.

“The red session is a high intensity session and it lasts for one and half or two hours and we try out different drills like 3 vs 3 or 5 vs 3 or 8 vs 8 and sometimes 11 vs 11.”

“It also brings me back to one of the questions asked earlier, ‘why is the training hard but the match easy?’ In the match, you have to play for three to six minutes, and it is different for every position... the defence plays for six minutes, mid-fielders play for four minutes, strikers play for three minutes, they get the opportunity to change in between.”

“But during training, you don’t have that kind of time. There are three stations. You complete one station and you don’t have time to rest in between that. You have to move to the next one. You finish the second one and you move to the third. The orange session is a little low intensity, in comparison.”

The goal-keeper added that their schedule for the week comprises of three to four red sessions, two orange sessions and two to three green sessions. In between that, there is a gym session and other training for fitness and that there is another schedule for that.

“Sometimes, when we lift heavy weights and then move to the normal ones, they start to feel lighter. That is why, because of the harder session, the legs do get heavy but when we are playing the match, they feel lighter.”

Explaining that the routine was followed even during the time the team was coached by Marijne, Savita said that these regimes are now common practice and are followed by top teams in hockey.

“I think it is used by almost all teams in modern hockey now. It’s not like we are on the ground for three hours and then relax for 15 minutes and we are training in the hard session. It’s a necessity in hockey in today’s times.”