Sports in India has changed drastically over the decades. Gone are the days when sports in India was equivalent to cricket. Today, other sports like football, kabaddi, badminton among others are writing the Indian sports’ growth story. The emergence of private leagues, increased media coverage, elevation in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spends in the discipline, and the general rise in awareness among the population has all led to this fantastic flourishment.
All this has resulted in the industry breaking the billion dollar mark for the first time in the domestic market. Naturally, sports are viewed as a credible and rewarding career option by both the parents as well as the young aspirants. If you are wondering how to become an athlete in India, you are at the right place.
What is an ‘Athlete’?
The word ‘Athlete’ is inspired by the Greek word ‘Athlein’ which literally means the ‘one who competes for a prize’. Broadly speaking, it includes all the persons who are proficient in sports, athletics or any other forms of physical exercise.
Why Become an Athlete?
As has been mentioned earlier, the sports industry is booming at an incredible rate. And athletes are at the centre of it all. Thus, by becoming an athlete, you will be the biggest beneficiary. Sports gives you an opportunity to represent your country on the global stage. Lastly, it is one of those rare jobs that reward you both with money and good health.
If you are passionate about a sport, there probably cannot be another equally rewarding career option for you. After all, Rahul Dravid famously said how he was surprised at getting paid money for doing something he liked (playing cricket). If you are mentally prepared and ignited to become a sportsperson, you have won half the battle.
And then comes the million dollar question:
How to become an athlete?
1. Choose a Sport
This is obvious, but the most important step on the road to becoming an athlete. Choosing a sport you are passionate about can be the right way. However, don’t choose one just because you like to watch it. Choose because you like to play it. These are some of the other criteria you should take care:
a. Analyze your strengths
Analyzing the physical build of your body can be crucial while selecting a sport. For eg., if you are not tall enough, Basketball may not be the sport for you. Similarly, if you are flexible enough, trying hands at athletics could be recommended.
b. Coaching facilities
Once you have shortlisted a few sports based on the above factor, an important step is to see whether there are quality Training Centres in your neighbourhood. For example, there is no dearth of cricket training institutes in Mumbai. Joining a quality coaching center will be inevitable as you progress further in your career. Thus, if it is not close enough, one should be prepared to travel and stay away from home.
c. Financial needs of the sports
Different sports have different monetary requirements, depending on the kind of equipment that is involved in it. For example, Football is one of the most cost-effective sports considering it can be played with just a ball. However, others like sports shooting or archery may need expensive equipment for training. It is, thus, important to consider this factor before finalizing your dream discipline.
2. Do Your Research
Once you have zeroed in on your favourite sport, read as much as you can about it. This will include getting acquainted with the game’s general rules, reading about the famous players (their interviews, style of play, tips, etc.), various competitions, and every other thing that is there to know about it.
Training videos on the internet can also be a valuable source of information early in your career. The more research you do, the more you will come closer to the sport.
3. Look Out for Scholarships, CSR funds
While you are training, constantly be on the lookout for scholarship opportunities. Receiving endowment at the right time can help immensely in gaining improved quality of equipment and
Currently, the biggest government-backed scholarship scheme is the ‘Khelo India ’ by the sports authority of India. It awards meritorious young athletes with a sum of ₹ 5 lakhs for a period of 8 years.
4. Maintain Practice Discipline
Practice is the key to success and it is 100% sure in the field of sports. It is the science of repeating physical activity to sharpen the muscle memory. The more of quality training you do, the better are your chances of victory. Thus, develop a schedule in consultation with experts and follow it in a religious, disciplined manner.
5. Have a Balanced Diet
Since sports and athletics is a physical work-intensive discipline, one has taken ample care of a proper and balanced diet. This is especially true for youngsters considering the body is still in the growth phase. As a result, replenishing the energy and nutrients lost during a workout is highly essential. Try to include as much saturated fat-free, protein and vitamin rich appetite.
6. Participate in Competitions
Once you have trained for a significant time, it is recommended to participating in as many competitions as are possible. This is especially important to gauge yourself and know your shortcomings. Quality opponents can be invaluable in pointing out the specific areas where you need to work on.
7. Set Goals
Once you have gained momentum, set definite goals about which level (state, national,) you want to compete in the future. Use tough targets to ignite you from inside and get the best out of you. As you go on improving and achieving them, your goals go on getting better and tougher.
8. Talk to Mentors
Always try to speak to ex-players and coaches for invaluable training tips and insights in regards to the sport. This will be vital in bypassing a few potholes and wrong workout methods. If possible, regularly keep in touch with them to gain guidance at regular points of time.