There is more to basketball than jumping high to shoot hoops. You need to push your way through all the other players first. Apart from skill, what also comes in handy are strong shoulders and thighs, strong arms and a fit upper body. It’s no wonder then that many of the drills performed by former Delhi under-19 basketball captain Akimjeet Singh Sohal involve variants of push-ups. In one, he rolls a basketball from one hand to the other while doing a push-up. His hands sometimes shake a little, but he controls them with his core muscle strength.Sohal first encountered the gruelling fitness regime that he now follows, at an NBA clinic in California in 2009. "A little bit of weight training in the gym and some running can’t keep a person fit. Doing many repetitions of on- and off-court drills are my way of staying fit," says the player who was part of the Indian squad for the Asian Games qualifiers and the Asian Basketball Championship in 2011. "In the four-day NBA camp, it was four days of fitness along with basic basketball skills," he adds.
Sohal’s own workout features 30 minutes of running on the field, after which he does 90 minutes of drills. One of his routines is called ‘Figure of 8’, in which four or five people run behind one another in a figure of 8 formation. This might sound easy, but it isn’t, especially when you cross other players. Sohal, who had a short stint with a local county club in San Francisco called the San Francisco Hurricanes after his NBA clinic, also does jumping exercises using platforms and steps. He also skips and practises the one-legged hop (the langdi-taang game from when we were young!).
The trick is to strike a balance between fitness and skill, he says. “If you are not fit but your skills are good, you can’t really use them. And if you are very fit, but you don’t have the skills, then there isn’t much you can do on the court either. It all begins with an aptitude for fitness and a passion for sport.”
Akimjeet Singh Sohal
He’s played in the Asian Games qualifiers for India and represented Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. “Knowledge of fitness is the key. Being active and strong at the same time is important,” says Sohal.
How Akimjeet Singh Sohal exercises every muscle and body part
Burpee: For strong chest, triceps, arms, lower abs and shoulders
1) Do a standard push-up first.
2) Push your legs inwards, while maintaining the upper body push-up stance.
3) Stand up quickly with your thigh and abdominal strength, and raise your hands.
(4) Get back to the ground for a push-up.
Repetitions: Do 10 rounds. Then rest for a minute and get back for another 10.
Coordination push-ups: For stability in the core and strength in the chest and arms
1) Do a push-up with a basketball under one hand.
2) As you raise your body, roll the basketball from one hand to the other.
3) Perform the next push-up, and switch again on the raise.
Repetitions: To begin with, do this 10 to 15 times. Feel good about yourself once you can do 25 reps!
Step-ups: For stronger calves, quadriceps, lower abs and groin muscles
1) Stand in front of a platform and place your right foot on it.
2) Bring your left foot up with a jumping action, while taking your right foot to the ground.
3) Alternate your legs with a continuous hopping action.
Repetitions: Do 30 to 40 hops in one set, then rest and do one more.
(This concludes our series)
From HT Brunch, May 26
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