CHENNAI: There might not have been any table tennis events for the last seven months, but it has not stopped Achanta Sharath Kamal from working on his game. Using the Covid-19-forced break, the 38-year-old has made wholesome changes to his game, which will strengthen and improve his already-sharp forehand, reflexes and body balance as he looks to try and clinch a Tokyo berth.
“When you are playing continuously, you focus on fine-tuning your skills and find ways to hide your weaknesses. With time in my hand now, I underwent a physio test and found a lot of issues in my abdominal and back region. It was because I wasn’t training in the correct way for the past 20 years. Now, I am unlearning those techniques and rectifying these issues,” Sharath, who became the brand ambassador of Pace — an app which will be launched in a month and could be used to record data of paddlers and help coaches devise training modules — told TOI.
Elaborating on the changes, Sharath said: “Your centre of gravity should be forward when you are playing a forehand but my game was attuned in a way that I was ending up on my heels while playing it. Therefore, I was straining my back muscles in order to generate force behind a shot. So I was getting spasms and hurting my neck.
“I am now putting force on my great toe. I was also having issues with my balance. The left leg, which is my pivoting leg, has a lot of stability while there is more power in my right leg. I am now focused on finding the right consistency.”
The world’s 31-ranked paddler, who is in the reserves for the TT World Cup to be held in China in November, said the changes will affect his recovery process in a positive way.
“Since I was landing on my heels, I had less recovery time between shots. So my second top-spin was far less effective than the first one. If I get my centre of gravity right, it improves my recovery, reflexes and my forehand becomes sharper,” he said.
Sharath hopes his modifications will have the desired effect before the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, which are likely to be held in April.
“It won’t be easy because of the muscle memory, but I should be able to adapt to the new system in four-six months,” India’s No. 1 paddler said.