In Conversation with Chirag & Satwik : The Awesome Duo

Chirag and Satwik

The first Indian men’s doubles pair to break into the top 10 of the world rankings.

Satwik and Chirag are the first Indian men’s doubles pair to break into the top 10 of the world rankings. And this, for them, is just the start.

They had a breakthrough season as they claimed their maiden Super 500 title at Thailand Open and finished runners-up at the French Open Super 750 to grab a career-best ranking of world number 7.

Their stellar show also earned them a nomination for the ‘Most Improved Player of the Year’ (singles and doubles combined) award by the Badminton World Federation.

In a conversation with PHYSIOTIMES, the prestigious Arjun Awardee duo open up about their win-win attitude and how Physiotherapy has been a rock-solid support in their career.

1. Please share how did you first develop liking for Badminton?

Chirag - So, I developed a liking for the sport when my father first took me to play with him at the nearby Goregaon Sports club. There my first coach Manish Hadkar saw me playing and asked me to join the Regular coaching. And since then there’s been no looking back.

Satwik - My father used to play badminton & I used to go with him to play when I was young. So later on, it became professional.

2. Whom do you regard as your role model?

Chirag - I regard Rafael Nadal and Usain Bolt as my role models. Nadal because of his never say die attitude and Bolt because when he’s on the field he gives more than a 100 percent and the moment he’s off it he likes to have a good time and totally forgets about the Sport which I feel is important because you can’t be thinking about the sport 24 hrs a day or else you’ll drain up your mind.

Satwik - I regard Gopichand sir as my role model in badminton. If not in badminton then Kobe Bryant and Federer. I like them because of their calmness and mindset.

3. What was the scenario at your home when you told them about your wish to take up Badminton as career?

Chirag - After my 10th Board exams I had to either take up Science which would put my Badminton career in the back seat or take Commerce and continue playing badminton so I chose the latter. Although my dad was quite supportive my mom was a bit sceptical but with time, she understood that I’m actually doing well and I can make a career in it.

Satwik - I started playing at my home town (Amalapuram). When I played my first State level and National level tournament, I performed well after that many people told my parents to make me join in the academy. Initially my parents were not comfortable sending me to the academy because they were worried about my studies then they thought to give it a try for 2-3 years. Later on, I joined Gopichand academy and from there no was looking back.

4. What is the best thing about playing badminton for you?

Chirag - The best thing about playing badminton for me is that I get paid for a thing that I’m so passionate about & that I’ve loved doing since I was a kid. Also, I get to travel and meet different people. It couldn’t have been any better.

Satwik - Because of playing badminton I got a chance to represent our country India. That’s the best thing an athlete can get.

5. What are the qualities that make CHIRAG-SATWIK achievers?

Chirag - The thing that works for me and satwik is that both of us are really good friends off court too and we both have similar playing styles which is mainly a lot of attacking play.

Satwik - .... the understanding between me and Chirag is awesome not only on court but we gel well after the matches also. We go out to chill together and he is a very caring person, he is like my brother.

6. Badminton is a sport that requires quick moves and a lot of stamina. What is your Fitness Routine made up of?

Chirag - My fitness regime involves a lot of on court and off court drills. The off-court drills mainly comprise of running, agility work, jumps, weight training, etc and the on-court drills would be doing shadow movement and the usual badminton training.

Satwik - Definitely you need more stamina, power and quick moves when you are a doubles player, you need more power and fast reactions, so we do a lot of agility, running, strengthening and gym work... and we do a lot of on-court drills...

7. How do you balance Physical and Psychological well-being as a necessity in Sports?

Chirag - The Physical and Psychological well-being is extremely important for an athlete. As far as physical well-being is concerned, we follow a proper diet plan and also to avoid injuries, we do a lot of rehab and strengthening exercises. For Psychological well-being, we go out for meals and watch movies in our free time so that we’re not thinking about the sport 24*7 which helps us re-energise our mind.

Satwik - Definitely a big challenge to balance these two things when you are playing 3-4 tournaments at a time. Your mind needs to be fresh when you are playing tournaments continuously. So, sometimes we go out to see some new places and not think too much about badminton. It's really important to be in good physique to avoid injuries and maintaining a good diet is really important for an athlete.

8. When was the first time you were made aware about the contribution of physiotherapy to your badminton career?

Chirag - I was made aware of Physiotherapy at the age of around 17. But my association with a fulltime Physiotherapist started only after I joined the national setup in Hyderabad which was at the age of 18 and that’s how I got to know how important a physiotherapist is in an athlete’s life.   

Satwik - When I joined Gopichand academy then i saw Physios treating senior players then later slowly I understood how Physio is important to an athlete ...

9. What is your perception of importance of Physiotherapy in Badminton today? Has it changed over the years?

Chirag - Yes definitely there’s a huge change in the way Physiotherapy is seen in the Sports World. The injury prevention, load management seen these days wasn’t there back then. Training methods are a lot more scientific these days where the coaches, Physios and S&AC coach together decide the training and the work load management.

Satwik - Yes definitely there is a huge change in the way physiotherapy is seen in the sports world. Training methods and recovery part are a lot more scientific these days.

10. What are the common injuries have you faced in your badminton career? How Your Physios have managed your injuires?

Chirag - The common injuries that I have faced are shoulder injuries and back injuries. Thus, with the help of my physio at the national centre Johnson Solomon and S&C coach Nelson Mathew we give a lot of importance to Strengthening of these muscles and a lot of rehab activities to avoid injuries.

Satwik - The common injuries that I have faced are shoulder, ankle and chest injury. The help of physios in academy they give a lot of importance to strengthening of those muscles and a lot of rehab and recovery activities to avoid injuries.

11.  How do you think Your fitness level has helped you reach where you are today? Who are the people you would like to give credit for your fitness?

Chirag - Well my fitness level has surely played a major role in my badminton career. I really feel agile and ready on the court if I’m fit and feel rather sluggish and slow if I’m not fit. Thus, for me fitness is an extremely important aspect in my game. Also, I would like to credit my coaches, physios and S&C coach for my fitness level.

Satwik - Well fitness is most important thing for an athlete to be in fit to avoid injuries. And you need to be so fit if you want be top in the world. all credits to academy Physio’s, coaches and trainers...

12. What do you think are the factors that are important to maintain & improve your next career strides? How do you think Physiotherapy will help you achieve that?

Chirag - Well to better my performance and enter the Top 5 in the world rankings, I need to work on my Defence which I feel think is one of main things that is stopping us from entering the Top 5. Also, I think physiotherapy will surely help me prolong my badminton career with all the rehab and strengthening exercises.

Satwik - They are a lot of things to improve on when one needs to be consistent in the tournaments & for that one needs to be very strong mentally and physically ... And I think physiotherapy will surely help me prolong my badminton career with all the rehab and strengthening...

13. What do you think about career as Sports Physio?

Chirag - As an athlete I feel physiotherapists play a really important role in our life. And these days with so many opportunities to work I think it’s a really rewarding career option.

Satwik - As an athlete I feel physiotherapists play a really important role in our sports life. And now days with so many opportunities to work I think it's really rewarding career option.

14. Your Message to your physiotherapists, those who have managed your injuries at some stage in your career…

We are extremely grateful to all the physios with whom we have worked. The biggest of victories have come when we were down and out with injuries but with the timely intervention of our Physios, we were able to get back. It helped us to win those tournaments - Thailand Open and Commonwealth Games being two of them.

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