Graham Reid outlines India’s training plans on road to Tokyo Olympics 2020
“It’s a difficult one”, India men’s hockey coach Graham Reid said when questioned about Tokyo Olympics 2020 pool. The two Olympic pools with six teams each were announced last week. India were clubbed alongside Pro League Champions Australia and defending Olympic champions Argentina, along with Spain, New Zealand and the hosts Japan. While analysts called it an easier group, predicting smooth sailing for India till the quarterfinals, coach Reid believes otherwise.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Reid said: “I think the Olympic pool is reflective of world hockey at the moment. There are no easy games. All the games in both pools will be hard to win. Everyone wants to win,” he said.
Reid, who has won a silver Olympics medal with Australia as a player in 1992, and also led the Australian side as the head coach at the Rio Olympics in 2016, believes his experience at the multi-sport event will be useful for the team.
“Chris (Ciriello) and I can bring our experience to this team. One of the things of a multi-sport event is that there are a lot of distractions, and we will be preparing our players to handle those distractions. Apart from the pressure from outside the group, pressure can also come from family members. We will hopefully be able to prepare them to face it,” he said.
The field hockey at the Olympics next year begins from June 25, which means Reid has eight months to prepare his team for the big event. In the interim, India will participate at the Pro League next year, in which they will face all the top-ranked teams, including three teams from their Olympic pool - Australia, Argentina, and Spain. While Reid sees the tournament as an opportunity to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their Olympic oppositions, he also believes it to be a ‘double-edged sword’.
“Playing top teams in the Olympic year is always a double-edged sword. The positive is that you can get a sense of how the players are, what they do in critical situations and who there ‘go-to’ players are. On the other hand, the other teams also get the same opportunity to learn about us. Also, all the teams, including us, will be holding back some cards that we may or may not bring at the Olympic arena, which can be tricky,” he said.
Talking about the coming months of preparations, Reid said he was lucky to play in Tokyo this year around the same time the Olympics will be held next year. “So we know exactly the conditions we will be playing in.” Now his focus is on learning about the depth of competition in front of him. “The Pro League will give us a complete depth of the level of competition that we need to be playing against. Our aim is to train at the top level, at high and fast pace. Training at this level will also help us in getting the consistency that we are looking to achieve,” he said.
He further talked about ‘scenario-based training’ that the team will be working on in the coming months. “This kind of training is basically about the ‘what ifs’. What if we are 1-0 down, or 2-0 down, what if we have a player or two down, what if they take their keeper off, what if we need to take our keeper off... we will train for those kind of things,” he said.
“When you get to the Olympic games, the village environment will be different so we will talk about that and try to get acclimatise to the environment to the pressure as much as possible,” he signed off.