While strength is a prerequisite in most sports, the body-contact nature of kabaddi makes it even more imperative to the game. Among other essentials like agility, reactions and flexibility; what makes strength stand out is its importance to both raiders and defenders alike. Strength, in fact, doesn’t just help players on the mat but off it as well in terms of their resistance to injuries.

Strength can impact who wins a struggle in kabaddi.

Both raiders and defenders would agree that strength is a significant part of their game and, having to perform without it is as good as battling with a hand tied behind your back. Defenders use their strength to prevent raiders from crossing the midline with the help of Blocks, Dashes and Holds, while raiders use their power to push through opposition chains. For a more in-depth analysis of the significance of strength, prokabaddi.com sat down with a few of the best raiders and defenders in the league.

Fundamentals to forcing your way through to the midline

“Youngsters aspiring to make it to the vivo Pro Kabaddi stage must first create a diet plan,” explains ‘Iceman’ Ajay Thakur, the Tamil Thalaivas skipper. “Having power in your body is crucial. Then they must approach a good trainer who can guide them in the areas they need to work on. A good trainer can easily judge where you need to improve. They know whether you need to strengthen your lower body, chest or core.”

The large units of muscle towards the lower part of the body, which comprises the abdomen, glutes and hip musculature collectively form the core which Thakur speaks about. His thoughts on strengthening your core were a common theme among most raiders and were echoed by ‘Hi-Flyer’ Pawan Sehrawat - Season 6’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Strengthening one’s core is of vital importance to any athlete across any sport as Sehrawat elaborates. “It's important to have a good core to execute moves properly in games. You need to exercise with the intent of strengthening your core. I used to use the 'Jump' back in Season 3 as well, but back then, I couldn't jump as high as I can now. I focused on strengthening my core and, as you saw last season, I can extract a lot more height with my jumps now, making them all the more effective.”

Rishank Devadiga, meanwhile, explained how the increased level of professionalism in the sport has prompted players to look more closely at the finer aspects of fitness such as specific strength training for muscles groups where they may be lacking.

“Since the inception of vivo Pro Kabaddi, there has been an added consciousness about physical fitness, especially among raiders. There's a lot of stress on strength and conditioning. The game requires you to be in top shape if you want to sustain through an entire season. A raider needs to focus on his power and strength a lot,” Devadiga said.

A good Block, Dash or Hold has to have enough strength behind it.

Standing your ground against brute power

Looking at things from a defender’s perspective, Bengaluru Bulls’ leading tackle points scorer this year, Mahender Singh opined, “Kabaddi is actually very tough. There is strength and stamina involved and it affects you mentally too. It is a fast game, so the risk of injury is very high.”

Mahender also explained that increased strength can give a defender a massive edge when going into an intense struggle with a well-built raider.

“When you tackle a strong raider, it is important to be strong yourself. A lot of strength is involved during one-on-one situations with the raiders. When you Dash the raider or attempt a Hold, the stronger player among the two in the struggle is successful more often than not. If I put in all my strength and time my tackle correctly, the raider will definitely get tackled,” he concluded.