Given that her parents were both volleyball players, PV Sindhu taking up badminton is a tad surprising. However, her volleyball connection did help the Rio Olympics silver medallist, giving her one of the best weapons in her arsenal — the jump smash.
Sindhu’s father, PV Ramana, is himself an Arjuna awardee and his proclivity to the volleyball ‘spike’ now reflects in Sindhu’s now famous jump smash.
“My dad really, really loves jump smashes and he would always tell me that I should try it,” Sindhu confessed when asked about the jump smash at a press event in Mumbai.
“One day I did try it and then Gopi sir, having seen me doing it during practice, got behind me and said, ‘You have to learn it.’”
The 21-year-old admitted that she started practising the technique in the lead up to the Olympics with the aim of it adding to her game. But while she benefits from the skill, she does not plan moments in the match to use it, instead she only “uses it when I need it”.
The jump smash isn’t often seen in the women’s circuit.
At five-foot-11-inches, Sindhu already has a greater height and reach than most of her competitors. Add to that the technique of a perfected jump smash and she becomes one of the most lethal competitors. However, her lanky frame did cause problems in perfecting the technique initially.
“In the start it was a bit tough for me to get it right. All my shots would go into the net because the contact or the jump technique was not proper.
“But later on, after I learnt how to do it, I felt that it was perfect for my height and reach.”
Sindhu’s prime targets for the near future are the Denmark Open in October, the Super Series Masters finals in Dubai in December and the prestigious All England Super Series in March 2017.
However, her coach Pullela Gopichand is keen on helping her develop skills and techniques as the next target rather than tournaments and trophies
“I think realistically, for her to improve her strength her fitness, strength, speed, tactical and technical skills, and improve in the way she plays strokes on court — that’s the target,” said Gopichand.
“To keep improving on those is the most important thing for her right now. And the results will come.
“Results are not far away if you keep improving. I would rather look at the components of her game which need improving rather than look for the end result.