I will never forget my first interaction with Sachin Tendulkar. It was in 2006 when he was referred to me for treatment of his shoulder injury. I received a call one night as I was driving towards Mahabalipuram and I had goose-bumps realising it was Tendulkar on the line.
We met the next day at a hotel in Chennai,where I examined him. I asked him about how we could work,but he simply said the onus was totally on me to decide the course of his treatment,and he would follow it thoroughly. Having worked with a number of top athletes like Narain Karthikeyan,Karun Chandhok and Somdev Devvarman,I was aware of the fitness required at the big stage. Tendulkar was on par with them. In the sense,his spatial awareness and his biomechanics awareness were extraordinary,which means he knew his body inside out and exactly what was required to keep it performing at peak levels.
He was never shy of gym work. There was not one exercise or routine for which I had to really push him. He trusted me fully and I would draw out a weekly plan for him,which he would follow religiously. Three sessions each week of functional weight training and other skill-based routines. Sachin was never shy of experimenting with new techniques,and he would shock me with many out-of-the-box ideas,leaving me wondering where he heard them from.
One aspect of his cricket he worked very hard on was his running between the wickets. In my opinion,he is the second fastest even now,behind Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And he believed in running laps donning his full gear always,and ensuring that the time lag between each set was very minimal. He worked a lot on getting off the blocks as quickly as possible. Another great strength of Tendulkar that he could easily get his mind to work over his body by pushing himself to overcome minor niggles and aches of his ageing body.
He is also a very competitive person in the gym or when it came to sprinting sessions. And he would give it his all to stay on par with the younger members of the squad. Obviously,with age,his body,like with anyone else,also went through many changes. But his incredible dedication to remain fit has seen him through,and Sachin was a trainer’s delight.
He was also always conscious about his weight. He is someone who knows his food and wine. A foodie at heart,Sachin loved his sushi and seafood but always controlled his diet. We were two members of the team who loved our seafood. Our love for music,from jazz to blues and folk,also brought us together and we would spend hours speaking about it. I will always remain indebted to Sachin Tendulkar for the great influence he has had on my life,and he will always remain my role model.
(Ramji was a trainer with the Indian team from 2009-2013. He spoke to Bharat Sundaresan.)