ON WHY THE BOOKLET IS AVAILABLE FREE WITHOUT CHARGE
When I chanced upon your booklet, the first thing I wondered was why anybody would give out such valuable information for free on the internet. I imagine that if I ever were to write something like this I would have charged a bomb!
We could have charged a fair price for that book. That is something we discussed, but in the end, I felt I had to get it out to as many people as possible. We want to raise the level of basketball in India. The more we can get the physical standard up, the more we can help with everything else. So we thought if we make the booklet free and get it to more number of people, then we’re happy to do that. If anything, the question arises that if we did charge a small amount, would more people go out to get it and would they be more likely to follow it? That’s a hard question to answer. But I think decision-wise, it was the right thing to do (giving it out for free).
Were you happy with the response you received? Because it feels like the booklet just disappeared and you didn’t get the attention you deserved.
I could not care less about the attention. That doesn’t really motivate me. But when I see players improve, that’s what really ticks me on. That’s what I love— to see people improve. What is helpful, though, is that the more the word spread about the book, the more people read it, it then has the chance to help more players. Prior to this booklet, the choice for many players was between doing something the wrong way or not doing it at all. It was hard. The problem is that with some exercises, using the wrong technique can hurt you. For others you are still going to improve but not as much. So it is difficult.
Unlike other coaches before you, you stay in India 365 days a year. Tell us about your family.
Yes, I live in New Delhi. My family stays with me. I have a wife and two little kids.
Moving the whole shop must have been tough. It’s one thing for you to be passionate about S and C, but your wife must have been like “what are we doing here?!”, or was she fully supportive of your decision?
It’s a hard move, no doubt. But she’s fully supportive about it. We’re a team. Ever since we were working and dealing with training centres in the UK, we knew eventually we want to go and take our kids overseas. We both have lived in Asia as well as South America. We had an eye out for an opportunity like this. We didn’t know it would be India specifically, but we wanted to go somewhere where we could be excited about building S and C up from nothing, and take the family on an adventure at the same time.
KEEPING POOR FINANCES OF PLAYERS IN MIND
As part of the ‘cooling down’ regimen, you stress the benefits of foam rolling and how it can be done by purchasing an inexpensive heavy duty PVC pipe, as against fancier rollers sold by branded companies. A lot of fitness programs talk about how one should invest in expensive equipment. What is your take on it?
A lot of times, the people telling you to buy expensive equipment are also selling you that same equipment! They tell you ‘buy this or else you can’t get strong.’ A lot of these are scams. There will always be ways to make things more expensive, but will it help you as much? We could import a foam roller from America or we could use a PVC pipe. A PVC pipe costs me 75 rupees, so why should I import one from the States that will probably cost me 50 dollars!
As the S&C coach of the Indian national teams, has there ever been a situation that you want something but weren’t sanctioned the money for it?
I’ve stayed in very nice hotels; some amazing hotels, in fact. I’ve seen lots of extremely expensive weight rooms. I’ve gone to National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala and seen its weight rooms. They took me into one that had these super expensive machines from Italy. I looked at it and saw that the maximum weights you could do on any of these machines was about 15 kilos. Later I see a barn and wondered, “what’s in that barn?” The NIS folk dissuaded me saying “Naah…it’s just some old weights and stuff.” I said ,”let me see”. I went in there and found a weight lifting platform like the ones used in the Olympics. I was like – “This is what you need.”
So, on the one hand, they had the nice fancy expensive equipment they showed me, but there is no good training going on in there. I was extremely disappointed. There is a lot of money in there, but that is not what you need to do really good training. I’d rather have good value. Will I prefer to have more than just two ropes to do pull ups on? Sure. But the point of the booklet is that if that’s all you have, you can still do really good stuff. Now, if you can get a weight room with free weights and barbells? All the better. But just spending money doesn’t get you anything. When you are there (in the gym) it comes down to how hard and how smart you are working.
Ranbir Singh performing the full squat. This is the Indian squad’s first and most important exercise. Zak is seen giving motivation as necessary while watching his depth and technique on a heavy lift.