The Sports Academy you join more or less determines how far you’ll go…
Everybody has talent, may it be in music, dancing, art or sports. However, how and, more importantly, who nurtures it is equally crucial as the potential of your talent.
Yes, from determination to struggle, there are many factors behind a successful athlete. But the most critical factor for a sportsperson to make it big in the respective sport is the academy or the coach he/she has trained with.
In an increasingly competitive world, coaches and training facilities could give you an edge. But how does one decide which sports academy he or she should go for? Here’s a guide that will help you to select the right sports academy for training.
The first and foremost question you should ask is:
“Where is the sports academy located?”
India is a big and diverse country. Just like how we have cultural hot spots, we have ‘sports hot spots’ as well – Hyderabad for Badminton; Mumbai’s Azad Maidan or Shivaji Park for cricket; Kerala for volleyball; Goa, West Bengal and Kerala for Football; Haryana and Orissa for Hockey and Sonepat for Kabaddi. They have been churning out stars after stars in their respective domains for a long time.
But how are these hot spots created? Simple- the love for the sport among the local audience. And with the sports culture in the region, most of the country’s best sports facilities, coaches and young talent are present here as well.
This translates to better exposure, opportunities, and competitiveness at the academies here, all of which are necessary for you to become a star athlete.
If you are serious about the game, have self-belief and endurance, relocating to one of these makes a lot of sense.
Yashasvi Jaiswal is an ideal example here. He moved from UP to Mumbai to live his passion for cricket. And where he has reached!
The youngster almost guided India’s U19 team to the ICC U-19 World Cup trophy. Had he stayed back in his village in UP, we may not have gotten one of the ‘Finds’ of the tournament.
It’s not that you will become a national player for sure if you relocate to these locations; it really depends on a lot of other factors. Nonetheless, it will surely boost your chances of making it to one.
However, if relocation is not possible, it’s not the end of your dream. There are enough quality academies around which have and are nurturing players every day. You can still be successful by training here.
The next question you need to ask:
“Who is the coach?”
The first and foremost job before joining a sports academy is to find out about the coaches that teach there. A good coach can mould you well and put you on the path to success. In fact, it is fine if the sports academy is not great or has a tradition, but the coach should know his trade in and out. Some of the ways to identify the right coach are:
- the level (District, State, National) at which he/she has played;
- the amount of experience he/she has;
- most famous players who have trained under him/her;
- if he/she has proper coaching certification.
“What are the facilities available?”
The next thing you need to do is check out the facilities at the academy. Ascertain that it has equipment that covers every aspect of your development. Also, make sure that enough medical facilities are available. Do not forget to find out what the parents and other players think about the academy.
Thirdly, find out about the Alumni or the talent that the academy has produced– at international, national or even state level. Playing with and against the best will bring out the best in you.
Also, you can never say when a player like Rahul Dravid could pop by helping your team avoid relegation.
Although rare, just like Alumni in colleges, players return back to their former academies from time to time to educate and inspire young prodigies. And these interactions are priceless without a doubt.
Make sure that the academy is located near to you. Agreed, many great players like Jhulan Goswami, Saina Nehwal, and Sania Mirza had to travel for hours to reach their respective training academies. But wouldn’t it be great if their academies were nearby?
Reduced travelling means less hectic schedule and maximised practice time. Moreover, less physical exertion also translates into better rest and recovery for the muscles.
Also, take into account the ‘coach to student ratio’ of the academy that you wish to join. The fewer the students, the more attention and opportunity you will get.
Other factors to consider while choosing a sports academy
Some of the additional features you can seek out in academies are whether they have
- fitness programs,
- nutrition counselling sessions,
- fitness trainers,
- and injury rehabilitation facilities.
Although underrated, these factors can help in your complete development.
If making it to the national squad is your dream, you can join academies run by selectors or former sports-persons. Not only have they experienced the journey from school to international level first-hand, but they are also well-connected to selection committees who are in charge of scouting grassroots talent.
What better way to be visible?
Take Jaipur’s Neerja Modi Cricket Academy for instance; wherein Vinod Mathur, the former captain of Rajasthan’s Ranji Team and current member of the BCCI Technical Committee serves as the head coach.
We would like to conclude by saying that all the factors mentioned above are not mandatory to become an international-level athlete. They, however, will boost your chances of becoming one.