The fun way to keep fit – Cycling

Cycling in India has suddenly become quite popular, and has been chosen by many not only as a leisure activity but also to keep fit. Apart from cycling regularly to work, mountain biking is also widely practiced. There are a number of organizations that conduct cycling tours to picturesque hill stations and other cycling friendly locations. It is widely acknowledged that cycling is one of the best ways to achieve good health. Some of the health benefits include:

1. Cycling is good for your heart

By making the heart pound in a steady manner cycling helps improve cardio-vascular fitness. Since the largest muscle groups in the legs are used when cycling it benefits heart rate, which in turn increase stamina and fitness. Simply put, cycling strengthens the heart. This article gives some insights into studies conducted abroad about the benefits of cycling with respect to a healthy heart.

2. Increased joint movement

Unlike other forms of exercise like jogging, cycling is gentler on the joints. In this way cycling reduces the risk of arthritis caused by worn out cartilage. Since cycling puts less pressure on the joints, it actually provides nourishment that builds up cartilage.

Cycling is a great way to keep fit.
Image courtesy:http://goo.gl/y0dSr

3. Muscle toning

Cycling will not give you a bulky look that is achieved through strenuous exercises like lifting weights. But all of us would rather have a little muscle rather than the alternative-fat. There are a number of muscles that are used in cycling, starting from neck and shoulder muscles, to chest and arm muscles, all the way down to muscles in the feet. As cycling improves general muscle function, gradually you will be able to see an improvement in the muscle toning.

4. Stress reduction

Everyone is stressed some time or the other. Cycling outdoors is a great way to beat stress as it will take your mind of other stress. Basically, when riding a bicycle (or exercising in general) endorphins, a brain chemical that improves our overall mood, are released. In addition, the endorphin release can also improve our sleep patterns. Over time, a happy disposition and a good night’s rest can lead to better stress management.

5. Cycling reduces back pain

If you maintain good posture while riding a cycle it can reduce back aches.  Cyclic movement of the legs stimulates muscles in the lower back, where slipped discs are most likely to occur. In this way the spine is strengthened and secured against external stresses. By stimulating the small muscles of the vertebrae which are difficult to affect through other exercise, cycling can help reduce the likelihood of back pains and other problems.

As seen in this blog article, the benefits of cycling are many. What’s more, it is more than mere exercise, it’s fun! Sports 365 has an extensive range of road and mountain cycles that you can choose from. Cycles are available for kids and adults. Do check out our website for more details http://www.sports365.in

Tennis Raqcuet Buyer’s Guide

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced level tennis player, buying a tennis racquet can be a huge investment. Buying the right kind of racquet can also make a big difference to your game.  Before you buy a tennis racquet there are some things to take into consideration. These criteria are given below.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Racquet material Composite Graphite, Bi-hollow aluminum Boron/Kevlar frame Pure graphite, Boron Kevlar
Racquet weight Mid-weight, heavier racquet Mid-weight Lighter racquet
Racquet balance Head heavy Head heavy Head light, even balance
Frame shape Teardrop shape Round head Round head
String tension Low tension Low tension High tension
Head tennis racquet.
Image Courtesy: http://goo.gl/DviOy

Beginner tennis racquets:

Silver’s Armor J-11,22 With 3/4Cover Tennis Racquet

Intermediate tennis racquets:

Head Titanium 3000 Tennis Racquet

Artengo TR 720

Advanced tennis racquets:

Wilson Pro BLX 26 Tennis Racquet

Babolat E Sense Comp Tennis Racquet

RACQUET MATERIAL

Graphite

Racquet frames can be made of 100 percent graphite or a composite of graphite and fiberglass. Graphite is used to keep the frame lightweight and stiff for increased racquet head stability and performance. Pure graphite frames are suitable for players with a powerful swing. Composite graphite frames are ideal for beginners and those who play occasionally, as they are more flexible and transfer fewer vibrations.

Aluminum

Aluminum frames do not absorb vibrations very well. There are two kinds of aluminum frames:

  • Bi-hollow frame- This kind of racquet is more flexible, and so it is good for beginners. It is also less expensive.
  • Tubular frames- This frame is stronger and experiences less twisting.

Boron/Kevlar

These frames are lighter and stiffer than graphite and transmit vibrations more easily. These frames are more durable but less forgiving in comparison to graphite and aluminum ones. Racquets made from boron or kevlar are ideal for inter-mediate or advanced players.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Racquet material Composite Graphite, Bi-hollow aluminum Boron/Kevlar frame Pure graphite, Boron Kevlar

 

WEIGHT OF THE RACQUET

The weight of a racquet can be classified into a few categories, namely-

Super light- 8.9 ounces or less
Light – 9 to 9.5 ounces
Medium – 9.6 to 10.4 ounces
Heavy – 10.5 to 10.9 ounces
Very heavy – 11 ounces and above

(These measurements do not include the string and grip.)

A crucial character of the tennis racquet is its weight. A heavier racquet will provide more stability and control, while a lighter racquet will enable the player to maneuver it more easily. Mid-weight racquets are the most versatile as they offer a combination of power and control. Ideally, a beginner must choose a mid-weight or heavy racquet, because when using a light racquet one has to swing it harder and faster to generate velocity, and in doing so it becomes hard to control the ball. For a more skilled player a lighter racquet is recommended.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Racquet weight Mid-weight, heavier racquet Mid-weight Lighter racquet

RACQUET BALANCE

A racket’s balance is a measure of where its balance point is. It suggests where the weight is distributed on a racquet.

There are three kinds of racquet balance:

1.      Head heavy

A racquet is head heavy if it has more weight in the half of the racquet’s length that is closer to the head. This kind of racquet is intended to deliver more power, and therefore it is ideal for players who play behind the court. Head heavy racquets are best suited for beginners as     it gives the player extra help when hitting, given the extra weight of the tennis racket head.

2.      Head light

These racquets are more maneuverable. For those players who come closer to the net and for who volleys are an integral part of their playing style, a head light racquet is perfect. Generally, professional or advanced level players prefer head light racquets.

3.      Even balance

A racquet with even balance has an equal amount of weight on each side of the midpoint of its length. For an all rounder (who plays behind the court as well as moves close to the net) an even balance racquet is perfect.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Racquet balance Head heavy Head heavy Head light, even balance

SHAPE OF THE FRAME

The head shape determines the location and shape of the sweet spot. The sweet spot is the most powerful part of the string bed, and also produces the least amount of shock. A round head shape typically has a round sweet spot located more closely to the bottom half of the racquet’s face. A teardrop shaped head usually has an oblong sweet spot. Often, this kind of design lets the sweet spot extend higher up into the string bed. The tear drop shaped head is targeted at beginners and casual players.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Frame shape Teardrop shape Round head Round head

STRING

String material

String diameter is measured in millimeters. The thinnest string starts off at 1.20mm and the thickest is 1.35mm.  The player must be ready to make compromises when selecting a string diameter as there are always tradeoffs.

String measurements:

15 = 1.41-1.49 mm 17 = 1.20-1.24 mm
15L = 1.34-1.40 mm 17L = 1.16-1.20 mm
16 = 1.26-1.33 mm 18 = 1.10-1.16 mm
16L = 1.22-1.26 mm

Thinner Strings:

  • Pros
    • More elastic
    • More powerful
    • More spin
    • More cushioned response
    • Cons
      • Less durable
      • More prone to movement
      • More prone to misalignment

 Thicker Strings:

  • Pros
    • Resist movement
    • Resist notching
    • Last longer
    • Cons
      • Less flexible
      • Less elastic
      • Less powerful

String tension 

The lowest string tension starts off at 35lbs and goes up till 81 lbs.

High tension

Higher tensions offer slightly better spin and more control. If a player likes to hit harder and closer to the lines, a higher string tension is a better choice.

Low tension

Low string tension is within the 58 to 68 pound range. A racquet with lower tension offers a little more power and significantly less stress on the arm. If you don’t hit particularly hard or close to the lines and thus don’t need especially precise control, looser strings make sense for the sake of your arm.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
String tension Low tension Low tension High tension

GRIP

Grip sizes:

0 = 4″
1 = 4 1/8″
2 = 4 1/4″
3 = 4 3/8″
4 = 4 1/2″
5 = 4 5/8″

The size of the grip is also very important. Buying a racquet with a grip that suits the player will enhance control and performance. If a grip is too small, chances are that it will twist in the player’s hand, thus making it difficult to play with. If the grip is too big it inhibits wrist snap and the player will have to exert more muscle strength.  For the average woman, this measurement will fall between 4 1/8″ and 4 3/8″, for men between 4 1/2″ and 4 5/8 “.
Juniors will usually measure less than 4”.

Are you looking to buy a tennis racquet? Check out our website to choose from a variety of racquets over different brands.

Badminton Racquet Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right badminton racquet can be quite tricky and confusing as racquets come in all different shapes and colors. A racquet which your favorite badminton player uses can’t be perfect for you as everybody has different playing styles and fitness level. Before choosing your own badminton racquet, you need to decide whether you want to play a game of power or control. We can give you some helpful tips with which you can perfect your game by finding a racquet that works to your strengths. We at  Sports365   can help you buy a good badminton racquet. Take a look at our website for some great options.

Here are a few things to consider before buying a racquet that is best for you.

Level of playing Racquet weight Racquet Balance Stiffness of the shaft String tension Grip
Beginner Heavier racquet Head heavy Flexible shaft Lower tension Thick grip
Intermediate Heavier racquet Even balance Stiff shaft Lower tension Thick grip
Advanced Light racquet Head light Stiff shaft Higher tension Thin grip

Racquets for beginners:

Vector VXB 900 F Badminton Racquet

 Yonex B 611 DF Badminton Racquet

Racquets for intermediate players:

Silver’s Energetic U/Piece Gutted Badminton Racquet

HANIL Muscle Power 99 Badminton Racquet

Yonex Nanoray 20 Badminton Racquet

Racquets for advanced players:

Yonex Nanospeed 850 Badminton Racquet

 Yonex Armortec 700 Badminton Racquet

(Mentioned here are only a few racquets, for a bigger selection visit our  website. )

WEIGHT OF THE RACQUET

The weight of a racquet can be classified into a few categories, namely-

  • 2U: 90 – 94 g.
  • 3U: 85 -89 g.
  • 4U: 80 -84 g.
  • 2U: 75 -79 g.

(These measurements do not include the string and grip.)

While lighter racquets have faster swings and are more maneuverable than heavier rackets they are more difficult to control. Therefore it is advisable for beginners to start with heavier racquets. For an advanced or more experienced player a lighter racquet is suggested. Most of the badminton players prefer a racquet which weighs around 85 -92 g.

(without the string and grip. Once they are added, the racquets become heavier.)

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Racquet weight Heavier racquet Heavier racquet Lighter racquet

 RACQUET BALANCE

There are 3 kinds of racquet balance:

 1. Head heavy

This kind of racquet balance is perfect for beginners as it enables them to deliver powerful shots easily, since there is more mass near the head. This is also good for power hitters and offense players as it offers more stability.

2. Head light

For the advanced player who requires more control and swift mobility this kind of racquet balance is suitable. It is a control racquet with more mass in the grip and is ideal for defensive players also as they can try out various wrist movements and other badminton techniques.

3. Even balance

This is ideal for intermediate players as it offers flexibility and permits faster play.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Racquet Balance Head heavy Even balance Head light

 

SHAPE OF THE FRAME

Badminton racquets come in two different frames:

Isometric frame

An isometric frame has a larger sweet spot. It is good for beginners as it helps perform quality shots with ease.

Isometric frame

Conventional frame

Conventional frames offer more concentrated power. They are oval in shape. The conventional frame has a smaller sweet spot, but if the shuttle lands on the sweet spot, it would be a  very high quality shot.

Conventional frame

STIFFNESS OF THE SHAFT

The stiffness of the racquet determines the level of flexibility. Basically, a racquet with a stiffer shaft gives a player more control and shuttlecock placement, while a flexible shaft offers more power but lacks speed in returning shots. Ideally, beginners and mid-level players should use flexible racquets and advanced players should use stiff racquets.

Level of playing Beginners Intermediate Advanced
Stiffness of the shaft Flexible shaft Stiff shaft Stiff shaft

STRING

Diameter:

Thicker strings are more durable and will give a player more control; however it is not as powerful. Thinner strings give more power but are less durable. The string diameter is also known as string gauge.

Gauge Measurement
20 .80-.90mm
20 micro .78-.82mm
21 .70-.80mm
21 micro below .68-.72mm
22 .60-.70mm

String Tension:

Tension is measured in pounds (lbs). Given below is the classification of the string tension.

Low tension: 18-20 lbs

Medium tension: 21- 23 lbs

High tension: 24- 26 lbs

Very High Tension: 27 – 30 lbs

Higher tension:

Higher tension gives players a great level of control. It is best suited for experienced players because without good technique it hardly generates power.

Lower tension:

This is good for beginner and intermediate players since it provides more power.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
String tension Lower tension Lower tension Higher tension

 GRIP

Depending on the style of play, the diameter of the grip also plays a major role. The grip sizes are given below:

G1 = 3 in
G2 = 3 1/4 in
G3 = 3 1/2 in
G4 = 3 3/4 in
G5 = 4 in

If a player is interested in power play a thicker grip is recommended. It facilitates a tighter grip and is good for beginners. For a control player a thinner grip is suggested because it makes changing from the forehand to backhand grip (and vice-versa) easier. A thinner grip is perfect for advanced players.

Level of playing Beginner Intermediate Advanced
Grip Thick grip Thick grip Thin grip

Team INDIA – At the Cusp of Metamorphosis…

On 23rd August 2012, team India will kick-start its first domestic series of the year after a long gap, as they take on New Zealand in the first test in Hyderabad.

On the same day, Indian Colts (Under 19 Team) will also take on New Zealand Colts in the semi-final match of the under 19 world cup in Townsville.

An interesting co-incidence! Add to it the recent changes in the Indian squad, and 23rd August 2012 promises to be an important day for Indian cricket.

For the first time in many years, the senior team will play without Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Actually, it is hard to imagine a team without the “Wall” and VVS; they have carried the Indian batting middle order together for so many years. Such was their brilliance that we will have to fill numerous pages if we were to write about their achievements as individual or as partners.

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Their departure, however, also provides the likes of Pujara, Kohli and Badrinath that rare opportunity to make their mark in real cricket – test cricket.  In a way, this marks the beginning of a new era with new bunch of young guns in charge of the Indian middle order. For someone who has grown up seeing the holy trinity in the test team, this indeed is a big change to cope up with. But the show must go on and the die-hard Indian cricket fan in me is looking ahead….

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In the other corner of the world, Indian Colts have somehow managed to move to the semi-finals of the Under 19 World Cup despite being ‘strictly okay’ in the last two weeks. A win against the arch rivals, Pakistan, in a thriller of a quarter final would have surely lifted their spirits. In a way it was also a fitting revenge of their quarter final loss in the previous edition.

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Unmukt Chand, Sandeep Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Harmeet Singh and Vijay Zol aren’t really household names today but all of them would know how important this game, and hopefully the subsequent game is. Without looking too far back, they would be thinking of Yuvraj, Raina, Kaif, Kohli and Jadeja. A World Cup win is a World Cup win and history suggests that it has done wonders to the careers of the U19 stars. The die-hard Indian cricket fan in me, again, is looking ahead…

Only time will tell how far Chand or Aparajith or Harmeet would go as they aspire to become the  Yuvraj or Kohli or Raina of tomorrow….

Only time will tell how far would Kohli or Pujara or Badrinath would go as they aspire to become the Rahul or VVS or Sourav of tomorrow…..

So here we are, at the cusp of metamorphosis of Indian cricket, marked across two different tournaments, played across two different continents, and the Indian cricket fan in all of us is looking ahead with optimism…

All the best the Team India !!!

– Aashutosh Chaudhary

Week 1 at the Olympics

The Games…

The Games of the XXX Olympiad, popularly known as the London Olympics, kick started last week and has already captured the imagination of everyone across the globe. Olympic Games have always enjoyed the status of being the most spectacular sporting event and without any iota of doubt dwarf any other sporting event.

Fittingly, the games in London started with an opening ceremony of the scale and creative genius never seen and experienced before.  Orchestrated by the acclaimed Hollywood director, Danny Boyle, or should we say Sir Danny Boyle (yes, he is most likely to be knighted for pulling this event off), the audience all across the world were very simply dazzled by concept and the execution of the ceremony.

Indian contingent of 83 athletes, the largest ever in the Olympics, went with a tremendous promise of bettering the medal count. Sadly, for a nation of 1.2 Bn, the medal count has never gone beyond 3 in any edition, the best performance being in the previous edition at Beijing.

Not so good start for India…

Unfortunately for India, the first week can at best be termed as an average week, the only silver lining being Gagan Narang’s broze medal in 10m Air Rifle category. It was a watershed week for our Archers as they bowed out in both team and individual events. The hockey campaign is more or less over at the group stage itself.

Rising stars and failing heroes already…

Reflecting on the week gone by, I cannot help but notice emergence of new medal winners beating the medal favourites and stamping new world records. The likes of Phelps, Lochte, Magnussen, Ruban, Ellison were stunned by the lesser known athletes like Adrian, Gyurta, Soni, Don-Hyun to name a few. At the end of the day, you have to give your best to touch that gold, silver and bronze metal and it does not really matter who you were before the Games!!!

As we progress through the Games, I want to see more of such instances across all sporting disciplines. There is a wonderful story behind each such instance and it is nothing short of a good lesson on inspiration, dedication and above everything else – hard work.

Looking ahead…

I cannot wait to see the track and field events and thankfully the wait would be over soon.

As regards to the Indian campaign, I am eagerly waiting for the business end of Badminton, and hoping that Saina will bring in the medal. Also, I have very high hopes on our Boxers and Wrestlers as they battle it out for medals.

And some trivia to sign off…

I always felt bad when the sporting events hosted by India were interrupted by canine invasion (thankfully we do not see too many streakers) and more so when commentators would say, ‘This is unbelievable !”. But, it seems London is also going through some canine issues. There were reports of shooting venue (Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich) being damaged by the foxes during the test event. It was reported that foxes chewed cables, wrecked microphones and soiled the podium area :-D.

– Aashutosh Chaudhari