Raising a sporting superstar

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Friday, October 5, 2018
raising a sporting superstar
Rushil Khosla with his mother

Twelve-year-old Rushil Khosla's room at his Noida residence has only his lawn tennis rackets and the trophies he has won over the years. Rushil represented India in the under-12 category of the Asian U-12 Tennis Championship, in Kazhakstan last month.

Rushil, a  student of DPS Noida, was seven when he had his first lesson in the game by observing his sister play.

One day, his mother, Rajni, casually asked his sister’s coach to let him play and Rushil surprised everyone with his first shot. "He had an excellent foot and eye coordination, something that players develop after a lot of practice," says Rajni. "He was too young for the game and susceptible to injuries. So, the coach asked us to go slow in the beginning"

Soon, Rushil started participating in tournaments. His passion became his ambition--and now he wanted to play for India. "As soon as he decided to become a sportsman, a lot changed at home--our eating habits, our daily schedule, our social engagements," says Rajni.

To be good at any sport requires a disciplined and consistent effort. Rushil's day starts as early as five in the morning. He plays for 4-8 hours daily. The coaching includes exercises, playing, understanding the opponent and devising new strikes.

For a child his age, it is not easy to build up stamina and recover from the wear and tear of the game. He needs a special diet plan of about 3500 calories. Most of Rajini's time, she says, goes into preparing his tiffins. "He should eat on an hourly basis. The quantity and quality of his diet have to be well measured. He needs to keep replenishing the loss of water during the game to avoid cramps and dehydration. It is perhaps the most difficult part as he is not used to eating so much," she says.

Rushil Khosla

Her grocery list has changed-- whole grains, lentils, fruits such as pineapple, dates, beetroot, tomatoes have become essentials. The quantity of milk, paneer, eggs, and meat has gone up dramatically. Refined flour, sugary drinks, chips, and other junk food are a no-no.

Apart from this, he needs vitamins, minerals, and protein supplements.  "There are many challenges of getting nutrition right for Rushil. The supplements and health drinks in India are not properly labeled, and the imported ones are quite expensive," she says.

Besides nutrition, the parents and coach have to work on the emotional strength of a budding sportsman. The child has to be confident enough to handle both the successes and failures

Besides nutrition, the parents and coach have to work on the emotional strength of a budding sportsman. The child has to be confident enough to handle both the successes and failures. " He needs a cheerful environment at home to flourish and we are trying our best," says Rajni. "There are times when we couldn't accompany him to the matches. If he calls us within 15 minutes after the match, we know he has won. And if he doesn't that means he has lost the match. But we give him space to recover from the failure on his own," says Rajni.

"My coach has asked me to take every failure as a learning experience. I write down the mistakes I have made and the techniques my opponent used to win the match. I work on those points later," says Rushil, who is a big fan of Spanish player Rafael Nadal Parera. "He, too, is a lefty like me. He started playing international tournaments at 16," says Rushil, his eyes brimming with excitement.

And how does he manage his studies? "I study during the school recess and I utilize the traveling time. My teachers and classmates are very supportive," says Rushil, whose favourite subject is Maths.

Isn't the schedule too tough for him? "When you are passionate about something, it doesn't stress you. He gave up on movies and picnics on his own. His father keeps the motivation high. It gets tough, especially when a tournament is around. But otherwise also he needs to be consistent," says Rajni.

The family has to take extra care to avoid burnout, a common phenomenon among sportspersons. He needs to recuperate from both the muscle and mental tension. For physical injuries and fatigue, he takes regular sessions of physiotherapy, deep-tissue relaxation. And to relieve stress, he has a group of friends. What Rushil doesn't miss out on is 20-30 minutes play time with his friends within the housing society. "They are his buddies and he shares everything with them, " says Rajni.  

 

Comment

Very well detailed... At this young age the mix of passion pampering and meeting the childness in a child stay within are challenges to see a full bloom later

Rajni    2018/10/09 11:23:45

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