'Saina needs to find right balance'

The main challenge for ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal currently is to strike a perfect balance among training, competing and in taking time off to rest and recover, feels badminton great Prakash Padukone.

“One of the key challenges for anyone in any sport who has reached the top is to learn to manage his/her training, competition and rest and recovery. It’s important that you find the right balance,” he said on the sidelines of a news conference to announce the launch of a talent hunt by his academy.

“Sometimes to maintain your ranking you may go and play when you are not fully fit. This number of tournaments was not there in our time. We used to play three tournaments, come back to rest for 3-4 weeks and even if there were tournaments we didn’t play.’’
“The tournament you play, you should play well. That should be her’s (Saina) and anybody’s focus — to play a limited number of tournaments, but play them well,” the former All England men’s singles champion said.

Saina, currently the world’s no 2 ranked woman shuttler in singles, made an early exit from the Indian Open Super Series event held in Delhi last month and is missing the ongoing Sudirman Cup mixed team championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia due to a toe injury. In Saina’s absence, another Hyderabad shuttler PV Sindhu, is spearheading the Indian women’s campaign in the championship and Prakash hoped that both would be concurrently seen in the top 10 of world rankings in the near future.

“Hopefully both can come into the top 10. It might happen very soon. That would be good for Indian badminton. Sindhu is only 17. She is a bright prospect. Her height will be an advantage,” he said.

The former world champion rued the absence of enough doubles specialists in the country and felt doubles play, which has become a specialised area unlike in his playing time, needed to be encouraged by even having a separate coach and centre at the national level.

“There should be a separate coach for doubles. We should have a separate training centre for doubles. The scenario is better than what it was 10 years ago but we still have only one pair of players,” Prakash said.

“In my time it was different as singles players used to play doubles too, but now it is different as specialisation has come in. You can’t do both. You play singles or play doubles and mixed, it’s totally different,” he said. “From training to selection you have to encourage players to play doubles also, give them the same opportunity as the singles player. Then more would take up doubles play.”

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