Five Point Move is proud to host US Greco Roman National Team Head Coach Matt Lindland every week for “Coach Lindland’s Report.” For fans and wrestlers looking for insights regarding the US Greco National Team, we ask Coach Lindland some questions to get his take on training and upcoming competitions. If you have any questions you’d like us to ask going forward let us know via Facebook, Twitter, or through our Contact page.
This week, Coach Lindland is in Goygol, Azerbaijan, where he had just arrived when we spoke. The US Olympic Greco Roman team spent last week in the familiar surroundings of Baku, where they trained alongside athletes from the host country as well as from Georgia and Belarus. This next two weeks in Goygol is going to be all about continuing on with the current training plan (for the most part) and also, represents the final duration the athletes will have overseas together before coming back to Colorado Springs for the Rio homestretch. We hit on training, recovery, Martinez, and the plan going forward. Let’s have at it…
5PM: How did the first week in Baku go?
Coach Matt Lindland: It was a really good week, we were just getting in the groove of things. The first live practice we did was 24 minutes. The second live session was 26. And then finally, the last one we did was a really hard session with 28 minutes of live wrestling. We did one circuit day in between those, technical practices, and we squeezed in a little bit of live par terre, especially for our guys, we wanted to work on that individually with our athletes. Baku, we’re familiar with that city. We’re familiar with the training site. It’s a beautiful big building with that big dome which has 16 mats in it. But this (Goygol) is a whole new environment. We got on a bus for six hours and the first town we saw like five and a half hours later was called Ganja, believe it or not (laughs).
5PM: Ganja, like weed?
ML: Like Ganja, yes, that’s the name of the town. And now we’re in Goygol and as far as I can tell, we’re about six miles from the Armenian border. And not too long ago, there were some small skirmishes over here.
5PM: Ooh, that’s right…
ML: That seems to have gotten squashed for now.
5PM: Wow, okay. How’s everybody’s morale, they enjoying their time there?
ML: Yeah. I think if we’re going to make a change it was good to have at least a week in Baku. The last day and a half we had entirely off. On Saturday we had a really hard one in the morning, that was our 28 minutes of live, then they had the afternoon off. Some of the guys went down to check out the Formula One, hung out downtown a little bit. Mostly relaxed and recovered because we’re going to hit it hard again tomorrow.
5PM: So now you guys, your schedule, do you guys practice once a day, twice a day?
ML: I haven’t gotten the exact schedule, but it looks like two hard workouts, a technical workout, and then a rest.
5PM: That’s daily?
ML: Yeah, it’ll vary. And I haven’t seen the exact schedule once we got to Goygol what the times are or what the training plan is. Like last week, it was two hard wrestling workouts in a row, then a technical workout and a recovery.
5PM: Last week in Baku and then I guess this week in Goygol, but especially last week, was it just you guys and the Azerbaijan team or were there athletes from other countries also?
ML: There were some Georgians and some Belarusians there, as well. But just a few guys from each team.
5PM: Okay, that’s going to be the same script this week?
Coach Matt Lindland: Yes, actually it is. The Belarusians were just on our bus with a couple of the Azerbaijanis. The Georgians were on the other bus with the full Azerbaijani team. We crammed everybody into two buses and made our way out here.
5PM: Two buses for all of those athletes in the picture?
ML: Yeah, exactly.
5PM: That must have been really comfortable.
ML: It was hot, sweaty and unfortunately, the air conditioning in our bus was broken.
5PM: Yeah, that’s a good question. Or maybe it’s a stupid question, but is it summer there like it is here?
ML: It’s really hot right here. In Baku, it was very hot. We’re in like a little valley. There’s mountains here in Goygol. From what I understand, it’s a little cooler. But yeah, it’s still summer. And it looks like they are getting their first or second cutting of hay in right now. We’re out among the vineyards, this is wine country where we’re at. And then for pretty much five and a half hours over here I didn’t see anything but herders and farmers once we left Baku.
5PM: Well, those are your people.
ML: Yeah, that’s true.
5PM: And speaking of you, how did you come away so far after Baku and now onto this next phase? Did you like how things were there, did you like how things went?
ML: Yeah, I loved the training situation. The people are great, they take really good care of us. They’re super respectful and it’s a humble group of coaches and athletes. They are very open and you know, they give us gifts like, Hey, here’s some tea, here’s some candy. They are just very gracious people but mostly, we’re here for the training and that was phenomenal. We got some really good training.
5PM: It seems like between Hungary and Azerbaijan, those are almost homes away from home at this point.
ML: (Laughs) It does, certainly, between those two places. They are starting to be places we’re going back to because we’re comfortable there, we know what to expect, there’s no surprises. So we’re very happy with the training situation and the people are great.
5PM: Well, you already mentioned what’s going to be happening for the next week and change or so…
Coach Matt Lindland: Two weeks, two full weeks. We travel back (to Baku) July the 2nd. We’ll have a night there and then we will have a full day on the 3rd because flights only leave every other day. So we are going to have a full day off before we get on our flight home on the 4th. And it looks like 24 hours of travel to go back home counting layovers and everything.
5PM: I wrote about this and it seems surreal to say it out loud I guess, but by the time you guys land, it will only be a little over a month later when you leave for Brazil.
ML: Yes, and we’ve had good discussions here between the coaches. Chris Saba was out here for the first week, he left before we headed to Goygol . He’s got a real job he has to get back to. Mark Halvorson is our other volunteer coach who is here with us, but his job is wrestling so he’s fortunately able to stay with us. And we’ve had great discussions about our plan and we have a good general outline. We’ll see how things go here and then we will finalize our July and August training camps. But we have a solid plan outlined for what we want to accomplish.
When we get back, what we are going to do with our four athletes is some vO2 max, lactate threshold things. I am going to recover the guys the whole week we get back. We’re going to focus on going back to a really low base training again where it’s going to be two walks a day for 45 minutes for that week. Just recover, massages, sauna, walk. That’s what they are going to do the week of the 4th. Then on Friday and Saturday, we’ll test two athletes on Friday, two athletes on Saturday. Sunday they will have the full day off and then we’re going to start our camp on Monday the 11th.
5PM: Do you guys have help there as far as athletic trainers and a masseuse, people like that?
ML: We didn’t bring our own, but they assured us that we can use their resources. And we typically do that when teams come over with us, they can access our training staff. But we took the guys out to a Turkish bath house, did one day of massages and we will figure out how we’re going to accomplish that here, getting some massages in between training. And as far as athletic training, those guys will help us with ice and any injuries or bruises.
5PM: Did you catch any of Martinez’s matches?
Coach Matt Lindland: I did, I did. The funny thing was that one match he was down 4-1, I was watching it with my wife and it cut out with like 15 seconds left. So I’m like, Oh, I guess he lost, and then I finally got a connection again and it popped back on. The last 15 seconds of his match, where he hit the high-dive, hit the body and put the guy on his back. Good for him. He had a couple of good guys out there. He was wrestling tough and I think the whole team is moving forward in general. Everyone is taking steps in the right direction. And it’s important that athletes take their careers in their own hands. He didn’t make an Olympic team so right now, the next thing he obviously wants to do is make that World team at the non-Olympic weight. So it is important for him to take his career in his own hands and get over there, get some matches in, get some experience and get some training in while he’s at it.