IPL 2019 special: Celebrity physiotherapist Vaibhav Daga reveals the fitness dos and don’ts of our cricketers
The latest season of much-celebrated Indian Premier League, popularly known as IPL is back to rule our television screens. Preparations have kick-started with a bang. From an engrossed Hardik Pandya sweating it out at the gym to a chiselled Virat Kohli polishing his batting skills at the camp, we have seen it all. But do you know what really goes behind their workout, fitness and diet? Well, we got in touch with Vaibhav Daga, the former physiotherapist of team Delhi Daredevils, now known as Delhi Capitals, and his revelations are as adventurous as a nail-biting IPL match. Read on….
Tell us about your experience of working with Delhi Daredevils
The experience has been great. I have worked with Delhi Daredevils in the past for around three to four seasons as the team’s official physiotherapist. It was an exciting journey, considering IPL is an intense tournament with a very less time to prepare. The preparations, of course, begin individually for all the players because we cannot have all at one place at one time. A week or a month before any match, we bring all the players together at a camp base, we screen them for any kind of injuries. We go through their history in regards to the game, training, any injury and their diet. Once all the required tests are done, we then pass the player as fit and arrangements for the tournament commences.
We are sure that all the players follow a certain diet as a part of their preparations. Can you give us an insight?
A player’s diet has to be all things healthy and nutritious. We have to see that all the nutrients that are required for their body are given to them. Their diet is a mixture of proteins and carbohydrates and of course, all the fatty foods should be avoided. We also have many international players, whose taste buds are different in comparison to the Indian players. Not every International player might like the taste of an Indian curry, so, we have to include a mix of continental and Indian food during the training as well as the matches. As a part of their diet regimen, we have to necessarily discuss the menu with the organisers and the hotel chefs to ensure that the food our players are getting is sufficiently healthy. Their diet comprises of fruits, smoothies, milkshakes, healthy bread, ensuring that there’s not much of chunk involved into it (like pizzas and burgers). We encourage the players to opt for a healthy diet and avoid all kinds of junk foods. All the players do enjoy a cheat day, once every week. The preparations are done, keeping in mind the taste-bud of our cricketers. Most of the cricketers, however, are very well-aware and professional, they understand what their body needs. Cricketers like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma lead my example, they know how to control themselves. Secondly, millions of people look after them and try to emulate them.
Do these players consume supplements? What are the offences revolving around it?
Supplements are very harmful if one consumes it in excess. We try to advise our players to stick to consuming nutrients in the most natural ways and avoid taking supplements, until and unless really required. However, if a player is vegetarian, he is likely to be dependent on supplements. If not, he should consume protein foods like eggs, chicken, dairy products. One of the most important reasons for all the players to avoid supplements is doping, which is an ingredient that is used so that one can perform better. We practice anti-doping in the IPL because the players go through an unannounced anti-dope test. It is done by taking their urine or blood samples and if any such kind of substance is found in their body, the player might face some really harsh consequences. Probably a lifetime ban. The problem with such supplements is that none of the companies claims to mix any questionable ingredient in it. They don’t include it on their label. Hence all the athletes have to be very careful since they are responsible for their own consumption. Having said that, if they are taking supplements, it should be from a very reliable source and under a prescription.
Is there a particular Body Mass Index (BMI) target for the players?
It differs from person to person. Yes, we prefer the lowest figure on the BMI scale for sure. It should not be more than 15 to 18, however, it depends on every player’s body type, fitness level and his skill level. BMI of any player can be high, but he can also be great on the field so, there no certain standards set on that. In the end, cricket is a game of skill, if you don’t have skills, you’re a mismatch, however, what you do about your fitness, is like an icing on the cake and an addition.
What are the challenges faced by you?
The biggest challenge during the tournament as well as training is the recovery because a player’s schedule involves a lot of travelling during the IPL. For instance, if there’s a match in Delhi on day 1, the next day we have to jet off to a different city for another match. So, we have to ensure that a player’s recovery is good and hassle-free. Nutrition and ample amount of sleep play the most vital factor in a player’s recovery and we can’t overload them with training during this phase.
Would you agree that fitness standards are improving?
I absolutely agree with it because I have witnessed the fitness standards growing. I entered into this field in the year 1999-2000 so, I knew that the players who were senior, didn’t have that culture and a lot of understanding about fitness. Their skills were very high but the boys who entered during that were Virat, Dhoni, Rohit, and Yuvraj and it was fortunate enough for all of us that we got to inculcate all these fitness beliefs and cultures into them. Today, if you see, our Indian cricket team is one of the topmost fielding teams in the world, and fielding is directly proportional to the fitness. One cannot deny that fitness plays an important role in building yourself. A recent lot of cricketers are very fit.