Astana Arlans Kazakhstan head coach Sergiy Korchynsky reveals his formula for success in WSB.
How important was the depth of your squad for you this season? And in what ways is a large squad useful?
To tell you the truth, we were forced to set our squad up like this as we could not rely on our National team’s main talents as they were involved in other competitions. That is why we had to counterbalance our team with a “foreign legion”. I must say though that those guys have significantly contributed to our victory. Moreover we recognise the fact that they were facing a lot of psychological pressure throughout the season.
Would you say there are certain distinctive national styles of boxing, or at least distinctive approaches and tactics?
That is right; we always notice mental and athletic differences depending on the origins of the boxer, or rather, depending on boxing school he represents. I have had a chance of working with the Italian team before, which was also quite rich in foreign talent. I remember how impressed I was by the Nigerians. They are really hard workers! Once I was at the training centre and all of sudden I had to join an urgent management meeting. Can you believe that when I came back after about 20 minutes I saw one Nigerian boxer still doing the same fitness task I gave him before I left! Can you imagine that?
I would say that Italian boxers are really committed to their success as well. As for post-Soviet countries on the other hand, boxers who come from this school are known for being happy to slow down their training rhythm or even to put their feet up.
In terms of training, is there an advantage to having foreign boxers in the team? Does this help you deal with different styles of boxing?
Definitely, it is the diversity of boxing which contributes to the professionalism and growth of our athletes. The boxers can learn from each other, and when they look for tactical solutions, the approaches of their teammates may bring the answers.
How does boxing across a season, rather than building up to one or two events a year, affect your programming?
I understand what you mean. Our schedule reminds one of the programs that footballers have. And it is also true, that such a calendar is quite unusual in boxing and much more exhausting [than an ordinary boxing calendar year]. It is really hard to keep the boxers in the same shape throughout the season. However, we have learned many things during previous seasons and we have looked carefully at earlier mistakes. This time we managed to get out of the season with minimal losses. A steady work load and some rest before the finals definitely contributed to our success.
Some boxers do not like weight training. Do you advocate weight training for boxers?
With this number of rounds in WSB [five], the boxers should definitely get sufficient athletic training including weight training. Their muscles should be in as good a shape as everything else, tactics, mental state etc. We always pay attention to it.
Do you follow a periodization system in your strength and conditioning program?
It depends on a variety of factors. Before the finals for instance we were more concentrated on the boxers’ recovery as they were quite exhausted by that time. We even tried to reduce their tension and aimed at distracting the boxers from the pressure they were under. [The Arlans team famously engaged in a Paintball game against journalists just a few weeks before the finals]
What advice would you give a young boxer, perhaps one with limited time available for training because of school, collage or work, about getting the balance right between boxing specific training and fitness training?
It is difficult to combine serious boxing career with anything else. You should make a choice and give yourself up to it. As for important competitions, depending on a scale of the event, you should dedicate at least two weeks for intensive training prior to it. Boxing is a contact sport, therefore any defect or omission is seen immediately. Moreover it is really dangerous, so you have to take responsibility for your own health before any bout.
As for specific training recommendations, I would suggest to pay more attention to sparring and intensive work with a coach. You should also be able to realistically summarise your physical strengths and weaknesses before your fights. The better you prepare the less risk you take.
What do you look for in boxers when inviting them to join the team?
We invite boxers whose records already speak for them. They should already be developed athletes with a recognised style of boxing, as we do not develop talent here, but we work with existing talent and help point it in the right direction. For the “foreign legion” boxers, they should have a successful record at international level, while local boxers should be among the top 100 athletes in the country to join our team.
Does your team work with nutritionists or sports psychologists to help the boxers? If so in what way do they help?
We do work both with a nutritionist and psychologist and their role is crucial for our boxers. Our psychologist is like a father for boxers. They open them up with him; I would even say that it’s almost like they go to him for confession. As for the nutritionist, his main role is in helping the boxers reach the necessary weight. He works individually with each and every boxer. As it is important for them not to burn out in a bout because of food restrictions during their weight cut, so our nutritionist aims at permanently taking care of this balance.