Weak legs and decreasing stride length was the first thing Michael Nobbs noted soon after taking over as coach of the men's hockey team in September.
Since then, the objective has been to rid the players of their sluggishness. It's nearly six months now, and Nobbs, despite having the support of physical trainer, David John, and medical expert, BK Nayak, seems to have made little headway.
With just two weeks left for the Olympic qualification tournament, the issue has prompted Nobbs to fall back on a calorie meter to evaluate the players' optimum performance for the February 18-26 competition, which assumes importance, as only the winner will get a ticket to the London Games.
Nobbs' recommendation has come at a time when the team is into the final phase of the preparatory camp. A Sports Authority of India (SAI) official wondered what purpose the meter, which will be made available soon, would serve at this juncture.
Apart from assessing nutrition requirements, the calorie meter will also give feedback on other aspects of physical fitness, including maintenance of body weight. It will also point out the ratio between carbo/protein/fat in the body.
Hockey India (HI) secretary general, Narinder Batra, said the meter was part of the proposal given to SAI recently. "The proposal has been cleared and an order has been placed," he said.
HI, it is learnt, is importing the equipment from Australia at a cost of Rs 3-4 lakh.
Even though David John had claimed that the players enjoyed over 80 to 90 per cent fitness, the issue had cropped up during the recent series against South Africa.
Perhaps, this explains why fitness is weighing heavy on Nobbs' mind.