Trip home to Russia reenergizes youth coach Krivokrasov
This past August, Andrei Krivokrasov ventured back to his home country of Russia to visit his parents and to also serve as a guest coach and instructor for a 2008 birth year youth team.
On his recent trip, he was able to compare and contrast youth hockey development in Russia, particularly in Krivokrasov’s hometown of Angarsk, with a focus on what development and training looks like for the youth hockey player in the Krivo School of Hockey Elite versus the youth hockey player in Russia.
For Krivokrasov, the director of the program that bears his name, the trip home was a very positive experience.
“All players in my hometown of Angarsk start their hockey season in the middle of July,” explained Krivokrasov. “The day usually consists of getting to practice an hour and half before the on- ice session. One hour is dedicated to dryland training prior to practice, 30 minutes on getting dressed after dryland, and an hour and half ice session. Mites are on the ice five days per week, older kids train six times per week. Older players spend almost half of the day at the rink, including the ice session in the morning, breakfast at the rink with the team, then dryland training for one hour, and then dedicate one hour to flexibility training, which I find very important for player’s body control.”
As for the differences between Russia and the Krivo School, there are not many that Krivokrasov noticed.
“The differences in development are not different at all – 100 percent focus on skating and skills development,” Krivokrasov said. “My hometown hockey school, Ermak Angarsk, has been producing solid talent and many players go on to play in KHL or in the NHL, so fundamentally building a solid player is based on the philosophy of skills development.”
The attitudes of the youth players in Russia and Colorado are also similar.
“Youth players’ love for the game is the same and they all have hockey dreams in Russia like the players in the United States,” said Krivokrasov. “Players are disciplined and very eager to learn, same as what I learned when I played in Ermak. Discipline is a core for learning, growing and retaining skills every day on and off the ice.”
Krivokrasov noted that parental dedication in Russia also mirrors what he has seen in the U.S.
“One thing is saw in Russia is that parents sit together in the stands way above the bench about 20 rows back and let the coaches do their job,” said Krivokrasov. “Even if they get excited and yell at their kid to work harder or do something better, the kid can’t hear and keeps focus on the ice. In my opinion, players at Krivo School of Hockey Elite developed in line with Russian players, but in my opinion only, in many instances our players are better. Way better skaters.
“In comparing programs, I’m proud to say that we go above and beyond to do a superb job on how we develop our players. Our players are getting the best. It’s reassuring thing for our program and our coaching that we are on the right track of player growth. We are doing it right, but not content on where we are. One very big thing I learned that in Russia – many drills are dedicated to growing hockey IQ. I’m not going to elaborate how they do that, but it’s something I will be implementing more in our practice regimen, to give an edge to our players at Krivo School of Hockey Elite.”
New Krivo coach Ivan Benevelsky is from the same Russian hockey system, so his coaching philosophy aligns well with Krivokrasov.
“Ivan is very creative and that is something I look for in a coach,” said Krivokrasov. “He sees what I see and has the ability to modify on the fly, to make players achieve a desired skill or a team play.”
– Matt Mackinder