Modern sports has evolved drastically over the years. It is no longer only about skills: it takes a lot more to succeed at the highest level. Be it cricket, India’s most loved sport, or any other sport, the extreme levels of competition, frequent matches and travel mean a modern-day athlete has to endure a lot.

In such a high-demanding environment amid constant media scrutiny, it becomes all the more important for players to take the best care of their physical and mental health. This is where a specialist comes into action.

Assam’s very own Nishanta Bordoloi, who played first-class cricket in India, understood the importance of fitness and professional guidance in an athlete’s career early in his life. This is one of the reasons why he is one of India’s most reputed strength and conditioning specialists today.

“I was lucky to have played a fair bit of domestic cricket in India, I had the option of becoming a coach. I was on those lines and did my cricket coaching certificate from England & Wales Cricket Board. But I realised the importance of fitness in sport, and I thought if I could align my playing and coaching knowledge into developing a good physical performance program, I could serve the athletes better. Hence, after my playing days, I took up strength & conditioning,” Nishanta said in a conversation with EastMojo.

He, however, learnt it the hard way after an injury in 2004 forced him to miss an entire season. He said, “I visited innumerable doctors. Each suggested that I needed an operation to rectify my injury, but there was one exercise and sports physiotherapist, Dr Kannan, in Chennai, who said let’s try physio, strength and rehab. Within a month, I was fit. It was then I realised why strength training was so important and that it was the missing link in sports.”

Nishanta has trained over 30 international senior and junior cricketers and over 100 first-class cricketers in India. The list includes some high-profile names like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant to name a few. He has also trained some of the most promising sportspersons from Assam, including Riyan Parag, Hriday Hazarika, Ayan Rashid, among others.

Assam shuttler Ayan Rashid has been training with him for quite some time and said, “I have been training with Nishanta Sir for more than a year, and it has been beneficial for me. The training has helped me to perform in the international arena and has provided me with the stage to develop as an athlete. The other trainers were supportive and guided me well. I hope to train with them for the upcoming years and will keep trying to maintain my physique. And I am grateful to Nishanta sir for his constant support and guidance,” he told EastMojo.

Hriday Hazarika, who was crowned the Junior World Champion In 10m Air Rifle in 2018, said, “Fitness is key to success for any sportsperson. After winning Junior world champion in 2018, I had my fitness problems. I met Nishanta Sir in 2019 at a function. We talked a lot about physical fitness, and later, I joined Nishanta sir’s Nishfit. He helped to improve my fitness. He said to me: ‘You need one person to believe in you in your life.’ He was that person for me. Since joining, he helped me to push my limits, helped me through a knee injury and always helped me to be stronger than ever. He also helped me in my diet plans and brought a better level of discipline in me as a sportsman. He is a source of inspiration to fight big games.”

Currently involved with the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, Nishanta has also been involved in various assignments with the BCCI, Delhi District Cricket Association, Assam Cricket Association, Shillong Lajong Football Club, and many others. He was also the Fielding Coach at Kings XI Punjab and has described each of his assignments as a great experience.

Speaking of his IPL experience and his key takeaways, he said, “It is a high-profile tournament if not the highest. The key takeaway from any assignment is that deliver to the utmost, be proactive, be flexible with your ideas, be innovative, man management, be a motivator, a friend and yet a critic to help the athletes get better.”

Cricket is more than a sport in the country, and he has worked with some of the legends of the game. “I trained a team like Delhi for 8 years with the biggest stalwarts of Indian Cricket, and it has been very close to my heart, I am happy that I could change their outlook about fitness, and it became their staple by the time I left. It was an amazing experience to train match-winners like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, Rishabh Pant, to name a few. The challenges in any field are that you always have to be updated as they are exposed to the best in the world at all times, and the important thing is to be able to deliver to their needs and make them trust you with their body,” he said.

Nishanta is known across the country now, but Assam remains special for him. He has started a studio in Guwahati to create a facility for Assam athletes. From the latest technology for athletes to analyse their data of training scientifically to a centre to groom young strength and conditioning coaches, it has all the necessary facilities. He believes strength and conditioning is one of the most essential elements of modern-day sport and believes that it is equally important as skill. As a message to parents, Nishanta said, “It is important for parents to understand that strength and conditioning is equally important as skill. Start them young. It is called long term athlete development which starts as young as 6 years.”

He added, “Parents should emphasise outdoor games for their children. If they have chosen a sport, they should start investing in a good fitness regime to build up the physical sustainability to execute the skills. Most important is to train under a qualified professional.”

Also read: IPL’s Lucknow franchise appoints Gautam Gambhir as team mentor

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