Basketball training in India is hard for more reasons than one. An explosive sport, basketball is inherently demanding on the body. With 10 players cramped in limited space, there’s constant back and forth with zero rest. Beyond the head to toe movements, the sport is also mentally taxing: a constant switching of mindset from aggression (on the defensive end) to calmness (in order to make calculated plays on offense).

An elite basketball player in India not only has to grapple with these intrinsic demands, but also has to contend with peculiar problems. Basketball is an indoor sport, but in India, indoor wooden training surfaces are few and far in between. Playing on cement is damaging to the knees, and the general lack of awareness about the sport makes following the game especially difficult. After all, learning is not only by practise, but also by observing other greats in action.

Over the last few years, the rise of the internet and increased NBA programming on Indian television has allowed our new crop of youngsters to follow their best stars like never before. We are made aware of the lifestyles of our counterparts in the US, and how superstars like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry make it their life’s mission to train to be the best.

It can be frustrating to want to follow in their footsteps, only to find out that the facilities and coaching in India is lacking. You see these stars in fancy gyms, eating specially tailored food, with a slew of assistant coaches at their beck and call, and wonder, how can I train like this?

Imagine, if players from our cities find it tough to access good facilities, what will the situation be for India’s young talent in smaller towns and villages? How can they train to get better?

At Ekalavyas, we are conscious of the above issues (why else would we call ourselves Ekalavyas!). So starting this month, we will bring to you a series of articles on “How to train for basketball in India.” This column called ‘Court Craft’, will be largely authored by Pradyut Voleti, a 25-year-old basketball skill development trainer. Coach Voleti is the founder of Dribble Academy, a grassroots coaching academy in the Gheja Village of Noida.

Dribble Academy

He has trained under the legendary Ganon Baker and understands the what and how of individual skill development. “The Gheja Village Project has around 120 kids, 50 of them being girls ages ranging from 6 year olds to 14,” says Voleti. “These kids come from different backgrounds. But mostly their parents are drivers and domestic helps and some of them work in the village itself running a tea stall or are vegetable vendors.”

Individual skill development trainers are a growing trend in the NBA. From the years of Tim Grover’s work with Michael Jordan in the late 80s and 90s, to Baker, Idan Ravin and Micah Lancaster, the idea of one on one player development is widely accepted as the way to attain elite greatness. As Chris Paul once said during one of his gruelling workout sessions with Ravin,”To go someplace you have never been before, you must do things you have never done before.”

Pradyut Voleti can take you to that place you have never been before. Still don’t believe us? Watch:

*Disclaimer: All players are advised to also consult their parents/physios before embarking on any training regime. While we will try our best to be extremely careful in giving training tips under this column, we take no responsibility for any injuries sustained by players.

READ: The first column on “How hard are you willing to work to get better?

Gopalakrishnan R
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