If mountain won’t come to training, mask will
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It looks a little like the lower half of Batman's cowl — from the comics. But on the cricket field and in serious training sessions, Indian batsmen and bowlers alike have been using the 'high altitude mask' to achieve increased mental and physical stamina levels.
After his long practice session at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday, Rohit Sharma rushed back to the dressing room and returned quickly to the ground, all masked up.
He set his stop-watch before wearing the training mask that is used mostly by marathon runners to increase lung capacity and anaerobic thresholds, which in turn improves stamina. Several Indians players have been strapping on the masks for the past couple of months to increase their oxygen efficiency and it has apparently also helped them burn fat from the body.
"I have been using this for the past two-three months now. It increases your stamina and also helps in losing weight. If you have a couple of rounds with this mask then it's not easy to breathe. Basically when you run with it, you burn your body fat more than before," Sharma said after the practice session.
Modern-day cricket demands a lot of stamina and flexibility on the field and these low-oxygen masks essentially help in building up endurance over a period of time. It's akin to athlete's high-altitude training, though in a compact environment.
The mask was first introduced to the players by current India team trainer Ramji Srinivasan during one of the practice sessions. Many players soon opted for it. Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane too is a regular user of the mask and he says it helps a lot in increasing endurance.
"This mask doesn't allow you to breathe properly. You need to hold your breath, its like you are running up in the hills. In Mumbai we don't have such kind of facilities of running on the hill, so this mask is of great help, and it's helped in improving our sprint sessions too. It's very tough to breathe that time but it increases the stamina a lot," Rahane explained.
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