Like many other sports, hockey is also trying to find its feet back following a two-month hiatus put forward by coronavirus pandemic. Indian hockey stars have been following strict protocols following their return to practice at Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Bengaluru earlier this month.
The players might have been away from the field but men's national team coach Graham Reid utilised the enforced break by following his normal routine -- analysing the opposition and preparing for the future.
"We have stayed away from the pitch for some time, but I have still been in touch with the game during this period. We have been doing online courses with coaches," Reid told IANS.
"I have been analyzing the opposition teams and working on our tactics. It's been hard to stay away from the pitch, but I am sure the players have missed the pitch even more.
"During the lockdown, we have tried to use our time productively. We have asked the players to share stories from their lives on video so that all of us can know each one of us a lot better," he added.
The lockdown period must've been challenging for the players as they were stuck indoors at the SAI facility since March. But according to the coach, they tried to create an environment where the athletes remained in good frame of mind despite the ongoing crisis.
"We have had individual meetings with all the players during this period. We have spoken about their performances in the last year and what we expect from them once we return to international hockey," Reid said.
"We try and touch base with the players every day and see how they are doing and how their families are doing.
"It's been tough for the players to stay away from their families so we have ensured that the players remain positive. We cracked jokes with the players and tried to keep them in a jovial frame of mind."
The year was important for the Indian hockey team because of the Olympics but now that the event has been postponed till next year, Reid believes the 'reset button' has been pushed as far as the multi-national event in Tokyo is concerned.
He also admitted that it could be a blessing in disguise for the younger players, who weren't in reckoning for a place in squad earlier.
"During our conversation with the players, we have told them that we are pressing the reset button. So if the younger players hadn't got enough opportunities earlier, this period gives them a chance to put their best foot forward," the India head coach said.
"So from the point of the Olympics, we have pushed the reset button. It'll be a matter of how everyone restarts and showing that they can get back into the form that they were in before the lockdown.
"At the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty. Once we have a confirmed schedule for international matches then we can have a concrete plan for the Olympics."
With the reset button being pushed, all the players will now begin at the starting line. The coach believes that every player will have to step up in training to make up for the lost time as getting back to their peak won't be an easy task.
"The standard is that when a player is away from the game for a certain length of time then the player takes around the same length of time to get back into his form" Reid stated.
"It's going to be a long process and the last thing we want is the process being slowed down due to injuries. We are taking it easy at the moment and we have time.
"It'll be uncertain until a schedule of international matches is confirmed. If we have a tournament scheduled then we can prepare accordingly."
Even if the players return to competitive hockey in the near future, social-distancing measures will mean they will have to play matches behind closed doors. Reid conceded that playing with absolutely no one in the stands could be demoralising for the players but they will be able to handle it.
"The sports that begin first under the current circumstances will be trying different methods to host tournaments," Reid said.
"There will be innovative ideas coming from there. I don't think the players will need to adjust to empty stands. They have played in front of packed crowds and in front of not much of crowd in the stands in the past.
"It could be demotivating if there are no people in the stands, but our players are mentally tough to deal with the situation."