#28 Between Shuttles & Rackets with H.S. Prannoy

Introduction of Podcast

In this episode, we’re joined by H.S. Prannoy – a renowned Indian badminton player. H.S. has won multiple trophies and medals in his career, but none of it was easy. He talks about his life journey, his ups, his downs and how he uses technology to optimise his performances. Dive right in!


(00:00 – 01:47) – Introduction
(02:24 – 05:18) – Varsha’s Journey As A Sprinter
(05:20 – 11:58) – Varsha’s Relationship With Food
(12:09 – 14:35) – Strategies To Optimize Sleep
(14:37 – 19:41) – Varsha’s Training Regime & Rehabbing For Future
(19:49 – 24:29) – Technology For Nutrition & Learnings From M1 CGM
(24:45 – 27:59) – Varsha’s On Open Nationals
(28:00 – 30:16) – Varsha’s Top 3 Advice For Budding Sprinters

Key Takeaways -Transcipts

Intro (Mohit): Badminton is a very popular sport in India. Not many know, but it is the second most played sport in India after cricket. This is backed by the fact that India has won 39 medals across all major athletic events, such as Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and many others. Needless to say we are proud as a nation. In today’s episode, we’re joined by one of India’s prominent shuttlers and an Ultrahuman athlete, H.S Prannoy. HS is fresh from winning the gold at the Thomas Cup, the first goal for India in the cup ever, and India having won three bronze medals previously overall. We ask how he ended up pursuing badminton and his life’s journey. We then delve deep to find out and understand what goes into the preparation to win gold at a major badminton tournament. Some of the core aspects, such as nutrition, is ever so evolving, and how HS has worked on his diets over time. He also shares the modern recovery, longevity and training protocols in badminton and how these aspects differ from other sports. Having been an Ultrahuman athlete and used the M1 CGM extensively, HS outlines how tracking a biomarker such as Blood Lucas helped him optimize his preparation. He also mentions what he wants to see in sports tech and the biomarkers athletes can use to optimize their performance. Lastly, HS lets us in on his next target and shares the three essential tips to take up badminton professionally. This is not to be missed. Let’s get right into it.

(Mohit): It’s just such a pleasure to have you here.

(H.S): Thank you. Thank you, Mohit. It’s been a while since I saw you.

(Mohit): I would say no, likewise. And I think I do cherish the moment when he visited the office. But I just wanted to begin this by asking you, Thomas Cup, how does it feel?

(H.S): It’s been a month, but I feel it was one of those days which we thought that it would never happen in the Indian badminton, especially the men’s side. And all of a sudden it happened in Thailand last month. And I should say it was one of those moments in my badminton career which I always wanted to say to be a part of, because it’s very tough to be in the Thomas Cup squad. First of all, you have to be in the best end of the country and to be not just to be a part of the best end, but to go out there and to win the Thomas Cup. I think it was just a dream for all of us because we thought that initially that we have a chance to get a medal. We seriously believed that we could actually get one medal back for India, but we never thought that it would be gold. And once we finished that last match, that last point, when Srikant finished off that game, then we realized how big this event could be in all of our lives. And I think until then, it was still a doubtful saying that will it be a big, big moment for all of us. But then once that happened, and then we realized how big it was for the entire nation, and I think it was something else.

(Mohit): I saw some snippets of the celebration that happened and it reminded me that it’s such a burst of energy, almost unbelievable, right? Was it 40 years?

(H.S): No, I think more than 73 years. Because the last time when the men’s team played the Thomas Cup semi final was I’m not really sure, it was 40 years back, as you said, but that time there was no medal given for semi final. So apparently, if you see a medal coming for Thomas Cup, it eventually came after 73 years.

(Mohit): Phenomenal. This is one of the probably the moments that defines, I think, not just the sporting future of the country, but also, like anybody and everybody who talks about the sport, people who are early in their career thinking about what to play and how to shape their career. The ripple effects of this is like, I mean, across generations and of course, across millions of people, especially in a country like India.

(H.S): Yeah, I think exactly as you said, we need these kind of moments because I think post Neeraj’s gold, I think this was the next one which gave that big boost to the entire ecosystem of the sport in our country, I should say, because not just badminton, I would say, I think post Neeraj. I remember during the Olympics when Neeraj won that gold, I think it was not just the athletic side, which actually got the big boost, I think to the entire Indian ecosystem of sports, you just give that extra belief saying that, okay, this is possible. So something like these kind of events need to happen in a very frequent manner. And I felt post Neeraj’s victory, I think this was the next big thing, which just came from nowhere, where nobody was expecting us to go out there and win a gold in Thomas Cup. And it came, and I think not just for badminton. I could say these kind of events give big time motivations to the entire athletes out there saying that if these guys can do it, then we can also do it at the big stage.

(Mohit): Yeah. This looks straight out of a movie, right?

(H.S): We want this to be a movie.

(Mohit): Absolutely. I think this is definitely the stuff for movies. And as I said, this is generational. This will shape the next few generations and give people so much more confidence. It’s not a 20% increase, 30% increase. This is like one of those days in which the Indian badminton scene actually moved across decades.

(H.S): Yeah, because personally, if you ask me, even I could feel that sense of energy when I came back to Hyderabad and the last one month of training. You can just feel that extra bit of energy in not just the players but the entire support staff as such because everybody is just so thrilled to be a part of this, especially the Thomas Cup. And suddenly you have that belief saying that okay, this is something huge which happened. And the next step is to make it consistently happen. Every single time you go out there, you need those big titles. So I think that kind of an energy I can already feel when I’m training in Hyderabad. So I can imagine what’s that kind of energy when you see the other academies. So the kids playing out there, I think that’s phenomenal, I would say, which from our side when we played the finals also, I remember seeing the same dialogue saying, this is not for us, this is for the next generations to believe that something of this kind can happen. And you just need to believe.

Question (Mohit): Let’s do a little bit of a backwork into the story. Let’s find what really happened, how did you get here, and just a little bit about your background and your life’s story. Life story.

(H.S): I think it started in Kerala, and I’m from Kerala, from Trivandram, a very small city out there. But then I remember when I started playing, I started playing at around ten. My dad used to play a lot of badminton. He was crazy fan kind of a thing, but he used to play a lot of outdoor badmintons. I remember were insane crowd, used to come for outdoor badminton, more than indoor badminton. Outdoor badminton was famous that days, and I think that gave a lot of not spark. But then that kind of gives you a feeling saying that okay, this is a big sport, even though you don’t know much about it. But that gave the start. I started playing initially when I started seeing my dad, and he only trained me for quite some time. I had a couple of my coaches, I had a few coaches out there in Trivandram who taught me the basics. But until 16, my dad only used to make me train, and I was decent, I was okay in the national circuit. I was not big. I used to go out there and lose the second rounds and third rounds, but in the State I was in, the one-twos. So it was a mixed decision when I came to 10th. Should I continue playing sport? Because financially it was really tough, badminton being a very expensive sport. It was tough for my parents, but I’m glad that they told me, okay, we’ll give you two years time. You can go out there and explore how much you can do in badminton. If you feel it’s good, then we can think about it. So that kind of a decision they took at that point of time. And luckily that’s when I came to Hyderabad and started being in the national camps for the initial few years. Performance started coming, luckily in those two years. So my parents were still okay. And I think to probably get a job in ONGC was very turning point, I would say, because to get something which the parents would think that okay, this guy is safe in his career, was very important, I would say. I think that was a turning point in 2010-2009 where I was playing the junior level as pretty decent. But getting a job in ONGC made it much easier for me to just focus on the game. And, yeah, I think from 2010, it’s been a journey. Lots of downs, I would say, and less ups. But I think really glad that the last one decade of my badminton, I think I’ve had enough experiences of playing at the top level badminton, and I never thought I would have played against a lot of players in my career. I used to watch them on TV, just used to sit and enjoy how they used to play, but eventually I got to play against them and to beat them. I think those are the moments which you will cherish for your entire lifetime.

Question (Mohit): I remember when you visited us at the office, at the Ultrahuman office. I think one of the things that stuck with me was you mentioned that, and we’re talking about, like, how do you see your strength, right, some of the core strength. And you say, Well, I think I’m very strong because I grew up on stew and appam, basically. Tell me a little bit about that, the journey around food, a little bit about how do you see food and nutrition for yourself as an athlete.

Answer (H.S): Yeah, I think food was really messed up until the last few years. But being from Kerala, I think a lot of things had helped also. As I said, my mom was totally into non-veg category and very less into vegetated insight. So I think almost all the meals you used to have non veg, so that gave a lot of benefits also. But the side effects was there was no veg in your plate anytime. And it took a lot of time for my parents to really include those veggies in the plate because they also realized later that, okay, veggies are the main thing and not say, the non veg. So I remember back days, my grandmother, my mom’s mother was a really great cook. And more than being at home, I used to be at their house, and I used to only go for lunch and stay there until dinner and used to have dinner and come because I still remember having fish fries over there because she used to fry fish in this much of oil. And I just used to love that much oil being used for that fish, because you just can get the entire taste of that fish when you’re cooking in those style. And you know how old people kind of cook their food. So I remember being at my grandma’s place more than at my place and enjoying these kind of food. And later on when I started to shift to Hyderabad, that’s where things were really tough for me. And the food just was entirely different over here. And it took a lot of time, it took good three, four years, and we were eating at academy and there was no proper way of nutrition which was in place. But I think in 2018, that’s where the big change happened, where I had a big gut issue and things were really bad. And that’s where I started to dig deep into this and really understood that, okay, how important I need to really figure out the food for me, because the end of the day, I just wanted to play. And if I wanted to play, I just had to eat well. And then I started to really read about people who have been in the sport and been playing at the highest level and their diet plans and I think all those things came into perspective. I think Djokovic was a big example at that point of time, all those things gave me a big perspective of saying that okay, this is the next big step towards say, getting into better rankings or playing well. Because I knew I was say 2017-2018, and I was 25-26, but I knew the next four or five years I’m going to get old and things are going to be even more tough. So I just need to get things sorted right now. And yes, I think from 2018, it’s been a new journey, I would say still, I’m not really great in controlling a lot of desires, but especially in the food side, but I’m still trying to control as much as possible. And now I realize how important it is to be disciplined in the food, which has eventually given me a lot of good results in the last few months. So I hope we can continue the journey for the next five-six years too, and probably take a break, post that and then again start. This is an ongoing journey.

(Mohit): And I think, as you mentioned Djokovic, Nadal, I think the average age of an athlete has actually increased. Increased, yes, significantly, right? I think with the last few years, last few decades, to be honest, what I hear is that it’s almost reached down 43 years now, the average athlete, and it’s phenomenal because it’s not just only about the success rate, but also the length of success, right? To some extent. For how many number of years can you keep winning? That changes the paradigm to some extent, totally. Now become like multi-dimensional chess. You just don’t have to win. You have to keep winning. Keep winning as you’re raging, as you mentioned, when you’re 25, whatever you do actually works for you. Actually works for you.

(H.S): You don’t have to really think twice about when you’re doing anything, but then when you’re 27-28, it starts to hit you slowly and you are getting to 30, then you are bonded, then you know, this is it. I remember when you’re 20 or 25, you sleep at 04:00 A.m., then you get up at 08:00 A.m., so you’re still okay. But nowadays if you sleep at twelve and then if you get about seven or so, you’re not okay. That kind of a change I can totally experience. I have experience in the last few years and I’ve been telling the juniors also over here saying that take things a little bit more seriously because things are going to change drastically in the next couple of years and then it would be really tough to really catch up and the players are going to do it straight away. Right now they will have an advantage straight away when they reach 28 or 29.

(Mohit): This is like some of the most prolific sports scientists in the world. When we speak to them and we try to understand what is the bare minimum or the lowest hanging fruit of what one should be doing. And unanimously, the answer has been yes you can’t outrun a bad diet, that’s known, but you can’t definitely out run a bad sleep. It’s like sleep just compounds and catches over and you can’t really fix it by getting more sleep later.

(H.S): Exactly. This is one thing which kind of bothers me because we have a lot of travel which comes with this sport and the flight timings are all 03:00 A.m., 02:00 A.m., 01:00 A.m., and all these kind of odd hours which you don’t want to fly, but then there is no option. And then you are trying to catch up your sleep during the tournaments, but eventually, as you said, that fatigue keeps building and you just can’t avoid that anytime. And I think the only answer for it is to have enough sleep and to recover. And I think right now the last few years I’ve seen a tremendous change in my recovery when I’ve started to monitor sleep, food and other parameters and I can see a lot of pains just vanishing away. Before I used to get a lot of niggles and especially after heavy sessions, you feel that you’re not ready for the next day already. But I think in the last few months and last few years I’ve felt much better. I would say I’ve been able to recover much better and I’ve not been doing anything in the recovery because I’m not doing anything else rather than just to stick with good diet and to sleep better. So I think that just making things much easier, I would say.

(Mohit): I think this is very topical because just today morning I was speaking to a fellow founder who is actually working in the travel recovery space. So that’s really interesting for athletes. The biggest problem is that when we design protocols together for athletes and athletes themselves design the protocols themselves, the assumption is always a steady state that you have your routine and this is how the routine works. But everything is out of the window. When there is travel, there’s a lot of EMF exposure, there’s a lot of dehydration issues, but obviously food is a huge issue. Lack of sleep, lack of recovery. This person, I would love to introduce you to the company and we could definitely set up a partnership post this is that they’re actually building a line of you can say hoodies or t shirts that actually you can say more recovery friendly so they have more recovery friendly. Okay. It essentially blocks EMF radiation and makes you less dehydrated while you’re traveling. Yeah, I think a lot of work happening in this space.

(H.S): Yeah. Because sports is just evolving and you just have to find ways to get better and better and better because everybody is trying hard, but it’s just how much you are doing things in a different way that will eventually make you a champion in that. I think it’s straight away an answer right there where who are those extra and have been doing these kinds of stuff? They only eventually go out there and win an Olympic gold and nobody is just a normal candidate can just go out there and win an Olympic gold. So I think in the next five to six years I think this space is going to get even more competitive where people are going to come with a lot of new stuff so that you are recovering well. And at the end of the day it’s just recovering well. How much ever you train, how smart you train? If you’re not able to recover well, then I don’t think anybody can sustain the longevity and you just can’t get that quality of sessions back to back and every day and that consistency would keep dropping if you don’t have that much of recovery happening. So I think at the end of the day it’s all about recovery and what are the things you can do so that you are fresh for the next day’s practice or for the matches?

Question (Mohit): The last 1%, right? That recovery is a core piece of how health actually works. We are sort of like working on very soon actually launching a data product in this space basically where you can actually look at bunch of your biomarkers and especially the recovery once in one place and correlate it with glucose. And that said, I would love to understand your experience with the glucose biomarker as well. I recollect that like if I look at your sort of like a nutritional journey you mentioned that a big you can say change happened in 2018. It was Gastroesophageal reflux – GERD. Usually for a lot of people that’s actually quite common. But I think what happens is for an athlete that’s actually very, very it’s not preferable, right? Because first of all, you’re traveling and you have these schedules, et cetera. So from that perspective to now looking at glucose monitoring or tracking your nutrition. Tell me a little bit about your experience with some of these things and how do you expect these things to evolve as well in the future?

Answer (H.S): Well, I think the first thing which I would say is when you are playing at the highest level, I think any sport, the differences are very marginal. And I think the amount of work everybody is doing might be very similar. But the things which you do off court is the real stuff, which actually makes a big difference on court for how much tournaments you’re able to play at the highest level, all these kind of parameters gets to you on that level and how much time you are able to be injury free at late. And that’s a big factor coming in. So I think for me, post 2018, post the diet change and post the diet plan, I’ve been trying to slowly get things sorted for me, because I’ve realized that this is not a thing which as an individual, I can do alone. I need a group of people to help me to monitor what my body is and what I can get best out of it. And I think that’s when I started working with a group of people with the nutrition side, and when the Ultrahuman came in, it became very easy for me to really correlate what’s happening. And especially on the tournament days I can see my sleep going for a toss. That is one thing which we have been trying to work as a team to see how we can change things. I think that’s the next step for me to see how much I can get better sleep during the tournament, especially when it comes to quarter final, semi finals. Then I’m really anxious. Not anxious, but I’m really excited to go out there and play again. My sleep is entirely gone for a tour. So these kind of parameters, especially when it came to Ultrahuman and glucose levels, when you’re monitoring the glucose levels, you can clearly see, especially with the food, I would say I was eating much earlier than before because I’ve realized that eating late and then getting to the sleep have freely hampered my sleep cycles. So these kind of small, small changes have been able to do post Ultrahuman. And when there is a team continuously monitoring you, that gives always an extra edge. Whenever you’re going off the track, straight away you get a call saying that you’re going off the track, you need to be on the track. And this kind of thing is very important when you’re playing at the highest level, because you just can’t go off the radar end. So that is where I felt Ultrahuman comes very handy, especially for high performance. When you’re looking at high performance and for the high performance, as I said, it’s consistency, and consistency is the key. I think the next four or five years there are going to be a lot of new things which are going to come in place, I’m sure, because it’s slowly getting into this space and a lot of new ideas comes in when you are into this totally. And as I said, now I’m totally looking how I can improve my sleep on a quarterfinal or a semifinal day. And probably that might be the turning point of my career, where one, two matches here and there, you eventually figure out what needs to be done, then you’re sorted and you eventually go out there and win a couple of big tournaments and then things starts to flow. So these are the few changes which I think everybody has to do in their regime, not just me, I think, who are playing at the highest level. There might be this kind of very, very small stuff, which is why you are kind of behind certain players. If you do those big steps and if you’re ready to try this out, then you never know, you might really improve big time.

Question (Mohit): What would be the next big jump for you? Like, what would you like to see? Maybe your wish list. It might not be completely related to what we do, but we’d love to take a shot at it.

Answer (H.S): It’s a tough question, but I always remember seeing that how technology has been, just going way beyond our calculations, I would say, because back in 2010 – 2012, if somebody would have told me that you could use something like a glucose monitor to see all these things, I would have said no chance. So I’m sure after ten years, again somebody will come and tell you we have come with something where you just need to put it and you will just get some sensor on and then you will automatically sleep. I’m sure something will definitely come in those lines because at the end of the day, sleep is the most important thing for anybody out there. And if that’s, then I think 70% of the work is already done, so we just need to focus on the rest 30. And so I’m expecting that kind of a sensor to come where you just put it on and then you sleep.

(Mohit): Not very far away. Not very far away. I already sleep on one of those beds. It’s still, you can say 50% there, but I think it’s a nice addition to the platform, potentially.

(H.S): Please send it to me. The first piece. Please send it to me.

(Mohit): But you will see an announcement in the next eleven days as well. Oh, nice. Okay. Something cool, interesting. Of course you have the first dibs on it. Another technical question for you. So when you look at badminton as a sport, across all of the sports, what are some of the unique training challenges for badminton? Like, how do you train differently for yourself and let’s say compared to any other sport, what are some of the aspects that you watch compared to, let’s say, soccer, football, or maybe like cricket, et cetera, I mean, there are totally different sports. But do you practice some other aspects, like balance or hand speed, et cetera, differently compared to other sports?

(H.S): I think it’s a totally skilful sport, but I think racquet sports are totally a different set of sport where you need a lot of skill. But I think badminton is one sport which I feel is very fast, very quick. You just need everything out there in your body to react the same time. And I mean, like soccer or some other sport where you just need your legs. I think for badminton you need legs, hands, and just need that extra power, endurance, I think it’s very fast endurance. You’ll have to sustain one and a half hour of really long paced rallies. So it’s a game which is where you have a lot of aspects to be taken care of, even a small pain in your toe can really stop you from training on a particular day. So I think when you look at that perspective, it is a really tough sport to really continue playing. I mean, every day to really consistently train is one very demanding sport on those lines where the intensity is way too high, and to really back off from certain injuries are tough because you feel it might be a niggle. But the niggle can get into a pain very, very quickly in just one session of badminton, can just get into a pain and then you’re out for probably a week or ten days. So that is the most challenging part with this game, because I’ve experienced quite a lot of injuries in the past one decade, and I think I don’t remember not having an injury in any part of my body. I think I’ve faced every part had some kind of issue. So that is why I always feel like it’s a very complex game. Not just skill wise, you need to be up there, but physically, you’ll have to really, really manage your body. You’ll have to understand what your body is. I think that understanding takes good five to six years in the professional side. And once you understand that, then it’s a little bit more easy. And I’m glad that I got a lot of injuries. In my initial part of my career, when I was 20-21, until 25, I had a lot of injuries. But now I feel I think that’s something which was blessing in disguise, because now I know exactly what my body is. And now whenever something off goes with my body, I kind of know it and I’m ready to just back off from the training for one, two days and then give my body the time to recover. Because I understood that recovery is one thing which we really don’t focus on. I think in India, as such, I think even when it comes to sports science, we are way behind in the recovery side. When you look at the other countries, especially as Europe, when you compare it with the professional football players, I think the recovery is just taken care of so well. And that’s why they are able to play that many matches, that many football games at that intensity and for the full long year without much injury. So I think it comes down to only recovery side. So that’s what I’ve realized with the sport. And it’s just the battle with your body that is the first battle which you’ll have to win somehow and then the rest I think it’s much more easier to manage if you eventually understand what your body is made of and just keep doing stuff which actually makes it or which actually makes your body in a good condition. Before the tournament, after the tournament, all the small small recovery sessions, like a pool session, like a steam sauna. I think these things matter big time when it comes to badminton.

(Mohit): There’s a lot happening in that space as well. And this is our sort of like our wish list as well, we want to bring things like cryotherapy to India, hyperbaric oxygen, all those type of mechanisms, because yes, for somebody who just wants to get a little bit fit from their lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyle. That might not be a requirement, but then, for an athlete, the extra .1% or 1% that it generates for you,

(H.S): You’ll have to give that shot for that one percent. Until you try something, you won’t improve that one person. I think it’s as clear, especially coming to athletics, I would say 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters just 1 second, half of a second. If you don’t do all these things, you won’t get that half second. I think it’s as clear as that. And that’s where we need to get things in place much more organized I would say, in the next few years, five, six years, where everything is accessible at one center and you don’t have to take a flight to go and take a cryotherapy, right? So I hope in the next one decade we’ll have a lot of things in place where at least the high level or say the top level athletes are able to do it on an everyday basis. And I think that will get big differences in the number of Olympic medals which we eventually get to a country.

Question (Mohit): I think not ten years, certainly three years from now, hopefully if we tell ten, then maybe probably five to six years, I’m at least thinking probably five to six years. This is definitely going to be a huge, we are totally inspired by what and the background is that I think generally Indian athletes have so much of mental you can say toughness compared to most other athletes. Yes, wherever there is lack of resources and when people actually win because of their mental toughness, of course, probably like that’s our superpower. But I think if you marry it with other superpowers, right? Like I think cold exposure, hyperbaric oxygen, infrared therapy, a bunch of like hundreds of these things. It just all compounds along with obviously the ability to test your own data to understand what works for you. So all of that is WIP. I think very soon we should be able to unlock a lot more together hopefully. But with all of that like I think moving on to maybe the last section of the podcast, one question that I think most of our listeners would have that for young aspirants what would be like the top three advice for getting into your perspective?

Answer (H.S): I hate giving advice but still yeah, I think not advice as such, but I think this is my experience being in the circuit for last 10-15 years and coming from a place where we didn’t have much of support as such. And I would say the first thing would be to I think especially for the kids who are playing the sport when you are 10-12 12-15, I think it’s really important that you play all the sport. I think this advice is for the parents as such. This is my request saying that you don’t get your kid to one particular sport at a very young age and let them train only that and I think it’s really important that they experience every single sport out there and give it a try just for fun. But it’s very important that you play cricket or football, squash everything out there so that they know what it is and that will eventually give a lot of coordination and lot of balancing. I think all these kinds of things will eventually come if you play a lot of sport and that will eventually help when you are probably 20-21. More thing which I’ve realized is these days there’s a lot of competition, right? Starting from the age ten, there is competition and kids are being thrown at that kind of a stage where say from the day when you are having a competition and by the time you are 22-23, then you’re trained out and you don’t have more energy to really try something new to probably stick to the sport which you actually love. And eventually, at 23-24, you are drained up. So I think it’s okay, still okay if your kid doesn’t really make it big in the initial first four years, but for that it’s still okay to push somebody from 16-17 because their best will eventually come when they are 26-27 only. This is my experience. There might be few of them who will really fare well when they’re 20-21. But I think when you see, I think, say, men, mental happiness side also is a very important thing out there where you just can’t allow somebody to drain out by 22-23, and then you don’t know what to do in your life, and then you’re just stuck. Don’t peak too early. Yeah, don’t peak too early. I mean you just need to be there. You just need to keep working. But not really in a way saying that you’re drained out. So I think that is one thing which I’ve seen over the years and I feel we just need to loosen things a little bit more so that they have a little bit more freedom and play and I think that is the only thing. Otherwise, advice wise, I would say just need to be gutsy enough to try everything out there. There might be few things which might help you, there might be few things which might not help you. But unless and until you keep trying different and new stuff, you’ll never come to know about that. And I’ve seen a lot of them sticking to particular things in their life since last ten years and probably it has given a lot of good results to them. But from here, what next? The next is to try something new and to always explore the options available to you and to see how better you can get from these kind of opportunities where I’ve seen a lot of them backing off saying that I mean, we are good with what we are doing right now. We don’t want to try something new and you are left behind because somebody else who is going to try those new things, they are going to really go ahead. So you just need to try everything out there until and unless you experience those not figuring out what’s good for you, what’s not good for you. So just go out there, explore everything out there and then decide, okay, this is one thing which actually helps me and then probably this what I need to keep doing.

(Mohit): No, I think this is not just for badminton. I think this is a phenomenal advice for life. My favorite one out of this list is even if you are 16-17, don’t take too much pressure too early, right?

(H.S): Yeah. It’s not the end of the world, right? So many of them makes you feel that this is the end of the world, but eventually this is not the end of the world. You have a lot of things which will come in but you just need to hang in there. You just need to enjoy what you’re doing. I think that’s really important because I had lost interest in between because of this much of competition. I remember I had lost interest. I told him I don’t want to play badminton anymore. So there have been days like that, seasons like that where you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you don’t enjoy the practice sessions. That’s the most important thing. When you’re not enjoying that practice session, it’s done and dusted. But now in the last two, three years, I have somehow started really loving those practice sessions and I think that makes huge difference. And to really get that feeling, you just need to be a little bit more free and this can’t be just cramped up saying that this is the end of your life if you don’t perform well in this tournament, it just finished. These kind of thing keeps happening, but it’s very important that you enjoy what you’re doing. And then I think things will fall in place automatically. I think this is phenomenal advice.

(Mohit): And I would love to quote one of my favorite athletes of all time. Who is that? Marcelo Garcia. A phenomenal wrestler. Saying that when people ask them that, are you the best wrestler of all time? And say, no, I’m not the best one, but I have the most love for the sport. Yeah, exactly.

(H.S): I also like to follow players who really love what they’re doing. Especially when you see Federer and Messi. They love to play when they are in the ground and we just feel that happiness. When they get the ball, they are happy to get that ball and they are not really kind of worried what’s next. And I think that makes it really beautiful to watch them play. I mean, these kind of players where they are in love with the sport and that just comes automatically to the viewers also.

Question (Mohit): Very cool. This is so inspiring. On that note, I’d love to conclude the podcast, but before that, I’d love to ask you what’s the next big thing for you? It could be anything. I’m putting you on the spot.

Answer (H.S): So there are a few things which are lined up. But as an individual, I’ve stopped keeping targets, stopped keeping aims in my life. Sorry, this advice is not any youngsters. You need to have aims, you need to have targets in your life. But unfortunately, that never worked for me. In the last few years, I have always thought about the next day only. I’ve never thought next month, what’s happening next month? Or after two years, what am I going to do? I’ve never been thinking all those things. So the only thing is how better I can play the next day practice session. I think that is the only thing which comes into my mind. But I keep small targets. Like, obviously we have World Championships coming in August. In the professional side, that is one thing which on a short term goal, yes, that is one thing which I’m looking forward to. But yes, 2024 Paris is a dream. It’s still a dream. I’ve never played an Olympics. So yes, I would be really trying to get that spot next year. And I think next year is going to be a marathon of tournament sets when the Olympics qualification starts. And a lot of things are going to be very tricky when it comes to Olympic qualifications. So, yeah, that is one thing which I’m really looking forward to because I think it’s going to be fun. I don’t want to take any pressure as such because I know that there’s something which I’ll have to enjoy. If it doesn’t come it doesn’t come in. But you just need to enjoy that process and I would really love myself to be in Paris after two years.

(Mohit): Super excited for that. I’m super excited for you. And with that, I think we’re almost at the end of the podcast, but, HS of course, it’s been such a pleasure to have you on the podcast again.

(H.S): Thank you, Mohit. Of course. Nice question, though.

(Mohit): I love putting on the spot, and I love your advice as well, even though you keep claiming that this is not for people should follow, but this is phenomenal. And of course we’ll catch up again and we will surely catch up in Bangalore. And all the best with everything and thank you very much. Thank you. All right. Yes. Thank you so much. Thank you HS.

Outro (Mohit): I hope you enjoyed the chat as much as I did. HS’s journey to winning the Thomas Cup was full of ups and downs, but his grit and determination to make it to the top made him the champion he is today. As Indians, we are massively proud of HS’s achievements and are with him as he gets up for the Olympics. If you’re listening to the episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, please rate us and review the Ultrahuman Podcast, we are keen to know your thoughts on what we are doing here and how we can bring more interesting topics to you. Also, please don’t forget to share this episode with folks around you so that they too can be inspired by HS Prannoy’s life’s journey. See you all, with a new episode next week.

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