The difference between how Russian hockey players train and the rest of the world trains, is the difference between night and day. At a very young age the Russian player is given supervised structure in his training, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well. Not only during the season, but during the "off season"
as well. He is given the luxury to train, and know, that what he is doing has produced thousands of world level hockey players before him.
He does not have the best diet, much of it is fat. He does not have all of the special sports drinks, supplement bars, and fancy protein shakes; and he does
not train with fancy health club equipment. The one thing he, and all players in his country do have, is an organized proven training program, that was
developed by a team of scientists over 60 years ago with the aid of government funded research.
In addition to structure, the Russian player works very, very, hard. Herb Brooks preached to his players to be creative, just as Anatoli Tarasov the father of
Soviet hockey did. Unfortunately it seems that many in North America heard the word "creative" and thought that creativity alone was the secret to the 1980
U.S. Olympic Team success. Why? Well creative is fun! Nine times out of ten the human mind will go to the thing that provides pleasure, not pain, and many times training is physically uncomfortable. Creativity and fun leads to thoughts of laughing, relaxation, and having a good time. However, while creativity was a critical part of the Russian hockey system, alone it did not win world championships. Hard work, dedication, and organized training was equally as
critical to their success, and it was instilled in their youth. In comparison, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team was very creative in their thinking, but they
also worked incredibly hard with unmatched intensity in every workout they had, and because of this their accomplishment was not a Miracle. It was the result
of extremely hard work, desire, dedication and loyalty to each other, and it is a sad commentary on today's society that these qualities in people are now
considered "Miracles On Ice".
Yes the young Russian player has a great advantage over the youth in North America. At one time jokes were made about the reasons why Russians train so much was because there was nothing else to do in their country. As a famous hockey commentator once said during a live broadcast, after explaining that
the former Soviet national team trained 11 months out of the year, 6 days a week... he proudly proclaimed... "and you wonder why they drink to much..." With
statements like this, with the youth hockey players of North America all gathered around televisions watching hockey games, and absorbing everything they
hear, you wonder why we are so far behind in our training methods, and work habits? Russian and European coaches encourage hard work and are not afraid
to teach it. This along with a year round organized training program, allow their players to develop without "burn out", and is a large reason as to why they are taking jobs away from North American players.