Caught on Camera

Former India defender Dhananjay Mahadik is relishing his role as the Indian team’s video analyst

Written by Shahid Judge | Published: September 11, 2013 1:55:44 am

At a time the sporting world is embracing the use of technology,Indian hockey is trying not to be left far behind. The sport’s mandarins have advocated the use of technology and the appointment of a full-time,video analyst is a testimony to that.

Hockey India last month recruited the services of former defender Dhananjay Mahadik in an attempt to improve the team’s performance. Asia Cup,where India managed a second-place finish,was Mahadik’s first tournament as the national team video analyst. And the 33-year-old is enjoying playing an important role off the field. “I had to make sure I watched all the games,ours as well as our opponents,” he explains. “I then marked all the important parts of play,particularly the penalty corners. I noted an opponent’s style of play and their structure,and accordingly gave the feedback to the coach.”

The veteran was also relieved that his video analytical duties were fruitful for the team. “The players were happy with the analysis. There was nothing that went missing and it improved their game. But importantly,they gelled well as a team and with the coaches.” Other than following his duties as the video analyst,Mahadik also made himself available to the players for quick tips whenever needed. “A few junior players came to me for help with small issues regarding defending,” he states. “Since I was a defender myself,I advised those individual players whenever they needed help.”

Mahadik first got the idea of video graphing games in 2009 while playing with the national team. “I saw the foreign team coaches taking a keen interest in recording the games while I was playing for India,” he says. “It gave me the idea and I started recording games for my own personal use and analysis.” While his own examination of the matches helped improve his game,he was asked to expand his video analysing abilities to support his teammates at the Army XI as well. “That was the first time I helped a team,” he says.

The veteran’s off field talents were soon recognised and he was quickly signed up to serve the Delhi Waveriders in the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) played earlier this year. “It’s important to use videos to analyse games,” he explains. “If I tell a player about 10 mistakes he made in a match,then he will only remember three. But if I show all 10 to him,then he knows what I’m talking about and where exactly he has to improve.”

Given the success of his work with the national team,Mahadik has now been called up to serve as the official video analyst of the junior national team. “They liked my work with the national team,” he says. “If I continue to work well,they will keep me or else they will kick me out.” The first tournament for the junior team is likely to be the Junior World Cup,which will be hosted in New Delhi this December. Currently playing in the MHAL Super League in his second season with the Maharashtra State Police (MSP),Mahadik recognises his role as an on-field coach. “The boys haven’t quite gelled together yet,” he says. “They are playing individually at the moment but we need to start working together as a unit.” With bags of experience under his belt,the defender with the number 26 jersey is seen on the pitch coordinating with his backline and often moving forward to initiate an attack. Yet he claims that his playing days are far behind him. “I’m only trying to help the MSP establish themselves. There is nothing more left for me as a player.”

Prizing his experience as a video analyst,the former international claims that it is his first step into coaching. “Videographing games is a good start for me,” he claims. “As long as the hands and legs will work,I can play. Once they stop,then I will look towards coaching. For now,I’ve made a good start.”

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