India’s oldest sport is fast becoming its biggest attraction. This high octane mix of tag and wrestle, packaged & served in 45 minutes, is taking over the airwaves. With a higher TRP’s (Television Rating Points) in its first week than the FIFA World Cup Finals, Kabaddi definitely has the makings of India’s next sporting craze.

My company, The HEAL Institute, was in the midst of the action. As the Sports Science & High Performance Partner to the Bengaluru Bulls & the Jaipur Pink Panthers, we were tasked with addressing their physical conditioning and injury management.

The teams gathered for a pre competition training camp ten days prior to the league. The biggest challenge initially was to convince these athletes of the importance of science in performance enhancement. Having realized that the average Kabaddi tournament is three days long, we soon understood that in a league than span over 40 days, recovery was going to be the secret to success.

A Kabaddi match is divided into two halves of twenty minutes each. A team of seven players will generally have two raiders and five defenders. Over the span of forty minutes, each team will average between 35 – 40 raids of thirty seconds each. During a raid, a players heart rate will exceed 160 beats per minutes, he will be required to turn between six to eight times and lastly, recruit all his muscle fibers in an attempt to explode to safety.

This adrenaline packed thirty seconds will amount to more physical wear and tear than a 100m sprint, a triple jump or fast bowler delivering a ball in excess of 150km per hour.

The first ten days of the tournament provided me with what was a rude awakening. I had seen more ACL’s (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) ruptured in ten days than I had previously witnessed in 12 years of high performance sport. This was definitely not a sport for the feint hearted. Over the course of forty days, HEAL had managed over a dozen ACL tears, more than 15 ankle sprains, some serious concussion injuries (many of which required stitches), dislocated shoulders and innumerable muscle strains. Truth be told, I think that everyone involved had on some level under-estimated the level of physical conditioning required to perform at ProKabaddi level.

As the Sports Science Partner, our priority was to infuse science into the sport. Since recovery was always going to be the secret, we focused primarily on maintaining their physical conditioning & injury management. Monitoring diet, assessing hydration daily, massage, hydrotherapy & injury management amongst others formed the the crust of our protocols. In a sport that traditionally relied on physical prowess, I’m positive that science played a part in helping the Jaipur Pink Panthers secure the title.
The question is, what are we going to do different next year to ensure they retain the title?

Kabaddi Kabaddi Kabaddi…
In fact, sustainable energy is the earliest use of this particular sense, having write my essays first appeared in print in 1976.