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Kaleshin on an internship with Larionov in hockey “Torpedo” – how and why was it? The coach tells
24 December 2022 в 20:32

In the new text of the blog on Sports.ru, the team’s head coach Evgeny Kaleshin spoke about his observations after a trip to Nizhny Novgorod, where he completed an internship at Torpedo. Yes, yes, a football coach in the KHL club.

Here is a monologue of the Togliatti coach – with impressions of an unusual experience.

I wanted to see football from a different angle

It’s December, a pause in Russian football, it’s time for vacations – and at the same time, a great opportunity to devote your free time to a deep analysis of the team’s game, studying world football trends in the midst of the World Cup in Qatar and self-development.

I have been on various internships many times, including abroad, but I wanted to look at football from a different perspective and from a different angle.

I have been fond of hockey for a very long time, I watch some NHL and KHL matches – this is also a team sport from which you can learn something and adapt it in football.

This year, Nizhny Novgorod “Torpedo” was headed by Igor Larionov – a legend not only of domestic hockey, but also of the world. This is his first coaching experience at club level. He puts on a game that is atypical for our league, tied to combinations, possession of an advantage and interesting interactions. Therefore, it was impossible not to take advantage of this chance: thanks to the management of Akron and Torpedo for reaching such an agreement.

Larionov is open – he delegates a lot and does not raise his voice

So, my internship in Nizhny Novgorod lasted six days and took place from December 11 to 16. At that moment, there was a week-long pause in the KHL due to the Channel One Cup. Torpedo had a full training cycle. Before the break, they beat CSKA in Moscow (4:2): I was not at that match, but I watched it. In the third period, Torpedo outplayed the opponent, although the first two passed with the advantage of CSKA. For this match, the team had a theoretical lesson during the week, where the emphasis was on the analysis of defensive actions.

The first workout of the cycle – on December 11 – was in the evening and without ice: it took place in the gym. The rest of the classes were held in the morning: with a gym and access to the ice. First, the defenders and forwards had individual work, and then on the ice – a team training.

The main thing that struck me was the openness of the entire coaching staff and Igor Nikolaevich personally. He allowed me both to the theoretical lesson and to the gym, and to look at the preparation of the players for training. Such a great player turned out to be a very simple person – accessible, open, friendly. Larionov is a very endearing personality, from the first minutes he was ready for an open dialogue. And it was not a one-way dialogue – he himself asked me a lot, shared secrets and told various stories from the player’s life.

Igor Nikolaevich was interested in what style our team plays, what coaches I follow and what I notice from them. In general, we shared information on the training process, but I, of course, had more questions.

This is the very first and great impression that arose. You assume that with a two-time Olympic champion, a three-time Stanley Cup winner and a four-time world champion, there may be a certain distance, but there was not at all. He joked a lot, teased and allowed to see all the nuances of the team’s work. We communicated with him on a daily basis: before and after training. As with his assistants: I managed to get acquainted with the entire headquarters. All the guys are open with a simple human approach.

The coaching staff is very well organized in Torpedo. Each coach is responsible for his own range of duties: there are two physical training specialists who prepare the team for training and give it the amount of strength work, a goalkeeper coach, and a defense coach.

Larionov delegates a lot, because he has a well-functioning headquarters. He does not raise his voice – he walks and controls the process, watches the exercises for several minutes. He does not need to be directly involved in all processes. Igor Nikolaevich trusts everyone, and his colleagues confirm with professionalism that they do not need super-control.

Larionov trained in top English clubs. Some drills have a lot in common with Liverpool

Torpedo has been working under this coaching staff for five months, and it is already clear how the team has changed. I watched the matches before the arrival of Igor Larionov and now – these are, of course, two different teams in terms of style and results.

A very intense training process, hockey players are on the ice for an hour and do not stand still at all. There is no auxiliary equipment there: only gates and marking lines denoting zones are used. There are one or two pauses for water, and so they are constantly in motion.

In an hour, they manage to roll 8-10 exercises. In football, of course, such intensity is impossible, because we have a different dynamic. In hockey, a puck that moves faster, which forces the players to move at different speeds. The change of “decoration” occurs instantly. Plus, there is a competitive environment among the players. Each link is obliged to bring points and score. They do not have a leading link that brings results and to which the rest play along. All hockey players – young and hungry for hockey, are constantly trying to prove themselves. Plus, I think, the magic of the name of Larionov works. Unshakable authority.

The team plays this energy-intensive hockey, of course, because they use the coach’s idea and specific exercises, some of which are taken from football. Igor Larionov used to be on internships at top English clubs. Some exercises are similar to what we do, only they do them with a puck. The training process directs the team to play in a certain style.

Before that, at least I had never read or seen anywhere in Russia that someone in Russia worked and adapted football exercises in hockey. Maybe someone does this, but does not speak about it publicly. Some drills have a lot in common with those used in Liverpool: they use several pucks, as in football there are several balls – hockey players switch between phases very quickly.

We at Akron, like Igor Larionov, also think in a collective way, where each player is part of a large team that thinks and tries to play as a whole. What matters is not the person who threw it into the zone and ran. In “Torpedo” there is also no emphasis on only one link – a lot of interactions are trained in order to outplay the opponent. I wrote down a lot of combinations for myself when situations are solved 2 in 1, 3 in 2, 2 in 2 – similar to football.

Either way, it’s a game sport. Yes, everything is much more dynamic because of the skates and the puck, but the interactions have a lot in common with football. An equally important thing is a large number of repetitions to develop skills.

Hockey players hand over their phones before entering the locker room

Separately, I would like to note the infrastructure itself: Torpedo has a beautiful and neat dressing room. There are many motivational phrases on the walls. They have a small neat coaching office – probably 10 times smaller than ours at Kristall, but everything is ergonomically and conveniently located. Cool gym equipment – even with a small throw box.

In all rooms you need to walk in shoe covers or removable shoes, for violation there is a large fine – 5,000 rubles. I myself went that way. Before entering the locker room, hockey players hand over their phones so that nothing distracts them from the process.

The team also monitors the timing: the time the players arrive at the team’s events. They track, like us, the percentage of the ratio of adipose tissue. Igor Larionov gave the players several months to get used to the requirements, to bring themselves into the right physical condition. He is constantly in touch with the leading general managers of the NHL, monitors scientific progress, new trends in the North American League, and tries to adapt them.

Leading hockey players and the best coaches are now concentrated in the overseas championship. Although, meanwhile, he said that he was at the Detroit game – at the anniversary of the last Stanley Cup, and the quality of the game was average. Some Russian teams, in his opinion, play more interesting hockey, I will also include Torpedo here. The message is that you shouldn’t overestimate that league, it’s not so inaccessible after all. Yes, the cream of the crop is collected there, but ideologically you can play at a comparable level.

Larionov is the champion of Moscow in football. And a coffee lover – they bring him packs with special roasting

Igor Larionov is a professional to the core, who keeps himself in excellent physical shape. At one of the training sessions, he worked out in the gym in parallel with the hockey players. He worked with serious weights, lifted large weights with both hands. Igor Nikolayevich trains almost daily with his colleagues: either before training or after.

I know that he carefully monitors his diet. By the way, he is a coffee lover. He is supplied with packs of Larionov exclusive with special roasting from Ethiopian and Colombian beans – a limited collection. He fed me.

Also, what was a big surprise: Larionov is the champion of Moscow in football! In the summer, everyone used to play football, and I will say that Igor Nikolayevich is very competent in football. Previously, there was no narrow specialization: hockey and football were closely related disciplines. The warm-up of hockey players often goes through the ball, they all know how to juggle it.

Even in the late 80s, when my father studied at the Higher School of Economics and we lived in Moscow for two years, there was a box in every yard. I learned to skate there. True, I haven’t ridden for a long time, but I didn’t need it. I think if I get up now, in five minutes I will remember everything, it will not be a problem for me. It’s all about the spirit of that time, the universalism of athletes and their comprehensive development.

Even now, I don’t think it’s bad for football players to skate on vacation. If you warm up and approach this process correctly, then this is a plus. On the contrary, it would be good if our team could all skate and be able to ski. The driving program must be different.

P.S.: a very useful internship: valuable video materials, Igor Larionov’s detailed answers to all questions and a clear feeling that we are moving in the right direction.

Akron in touch, Sports.ru (12/23/22)

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