Lack of any major competitions this year will give the Indian hockey team enough time to be better prepared, reckons the national midfielder.
Indian hockey players will need a few months to get back to the level that helped them seal Olympic qualification and excel in the FIH Pro League earlier this year, according to veteran midfielder Chinglensana Singh.
The players have finally resumed training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru after a five-month break enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent national lockdown. But they aren’t expected to hit the ground running.
"It will take some time (at least two-three months) for all of us to hit the same form we were in earlier this year. This period will be critical for us,” Chinglensana Singh told Hockey India.
"It is very reassuring for the players that coach (Graham) Reid is constantly talking to the players and giving us enough time, it does not put pressure on us.
“We will know where we stand when we play internal matches which we have been told will happen only later this year so the next few months we can purely focus on individual well-being both physically and mentally, and work on improving our fitness and speed," he added.
The Indian hockey team was slated to play in the Asian Champions Trophy in November in what would be its first major competition.
However, with the biennial event postponed to March 2021 due to the pandemic, India’s only competitive event this year could be a trip to Malaysia, which is subject to government approval.
Chinglensana Singh, nevertheless, considers the period ahead as an opportunity for the Indian hockey team.
“The good thing is that we don't have any major competition till the end of this year which gives us enough and more time to return to the form that we were in during the FIH Hockey Pro League earlier this year,” Chinglensana said.
“Chief coach Graham Reid is also not in any rush and he has mentioned to us that the team management will be looking at starting intensive training only later this year," added the 2016 Olympian.
While most Indian athletes managed to return home when the lockdown was declared in March, India’s hockey players and staff ended up staying at the SAI centre.
While this allowed the players to work on their fitness levels indoors, Chinglensana Singh believes it worked out nicely from a psychological level as well.
“Time off competitive hockey always gives players a chance to be retrospective and figure out what aspects of their individual game requires improvement,” Chinglensana said.
“I am sure we will bounce back as a more matured, stronger and formidable team," the 2014 Asian Games winner added.