Gagan Narang became the first Indian to win a medal at the London Olympics. Narang’s potential was never doubt, but he always seemed to miss the cut by just a little distance. So how did he hit the bull’s eye this time around? Perhaps better known as the first and only Indian Olympian Gold medallist Abhinav Bindra’s friend, Narang finally stepped up when it mattered. Shooting may look like a sport that doesn’t require a lot of physical fitness or agility but that is not true.
So what changed? For starters, he started taking his fitness more seriously. The objective is to condition the body so that your general health is excellent. The muscular and nervous systems should be fully capable of withstanding the grind of match conditions and enable the shooter to fire his maximum scores.
So we analyse what allowed the man from Punjab to hit bronze in the 10m air rifle event.
Physical and mental training
He looks to repeat the same exercises, progressively increasing resistance and avoids strenuous exercises which may result in injuries. Functional training helps him moderate muscular tension. He consciously went on a strict weight loss regime to take part in the ‘three position’ event in shooting during Chongwon World Cup in South Korea.
He is of the opinion that it’s vital to exercise with enthusiasm to reach your desired goals. Simply going through the motions of an exercise is of no advantage whatsoever. You must put some effort into your exercising. Physical conditioning is a relatively slow process and requires patience.
More than anything shooting is a mind game and that requires training as well. To that end he practises yoga and deep breathing techniques such as pranayama.
He regularly practises his eye exercises such as
- Blinking- maintaining a regular blinking rate of once in every 3-4 seconds. This helps to keep the eyes moist and the muscles relaxed.
- Palming - this is done to relieve the stress of the muscles around the eyes.
- Figure of eight - rotating the eyes in a ‘figure of eight’ motion. helps to keep eye muscles flexible and maintain better vision.
- Near and far focusing - focus on an object close to you like a bottle or a pen and then on an object far away. This helps to exercise the eyes focusing ability, thereby enhancing vision.
He maintains a healthy lifestyle and stays away from what he calls the ‘detrimental habits for shooters’, here are a few vices he avoids -
- It shrinks capillaries causing increased heart action resulting in blood circulation difficulties, rapid and shallow respiration, increased pulse activity and frequent nerve pulsating in the extremities of the body.
- It prevents proper utilisation of oxygen and results in deeper breathing while concentrating or under pressure
- It dulls certain sensory nerve endings in mouth and throat causing increased nervousness when under pressure.
It causes temporary (eventually permanent) loss of sense of values and judgment. A depressant, alcohol and also has a psychological impact by lessening the desire to win. It also dehydrates the body causing permanent ill effects to blood, nerves and certain brain areas.
Besides avoiding smoking and drinking, the shooter also avoids coffee because it can frazzle the nervous system, make a person less calm and affects concentration.
Narang’s regime gives us valuable insight into the effort that goes into making champions. We from health.india.com hail his triumph and hope he and his fellow Olympians add to his medal tally.First Published: Jul 31, 2012 at 1:06 PM