When our Herthaner take to the pitch at Schenckendorffplatz, Henrik Kuchno leads the way. Our fitness coach is usually the first to take to the pitch as he gets things ready for the session, putting out cones and hurdles. The 47-year-old is currently unable to do those everyday tasks as he has spent nearly a week in quarantine along with the rest of the staff and players. But our Herthaner are continuing the fight against relegation even between their own four walls. “I’m trying to plan training in such a way so that everyone is enthusiastic about it. The players can all see one another and I give them the time before each session to have a chat. Then during the session we switch the microphones off. It all works, it’s good fun and the lads can enjoy training,” said Kuchno of the first week of training via video call.Our fitness coach has taken on an even more important role given the current situation as he is there to answer any questions the players might have. “I can deal with the fact that I am getting more attention now. That’s not normally my thing because it’s a team effort – it still is. I am convinced of what we’re doing and I won’t hide,” says the man from Lübz in northern Germany. One thing to consider is the lack of time Kuchno had to prepare for this. Everything had to be organised at short notice – just like last year. The experience gained at the start of the pandemic has helped him to prepare the quarantine training program as best he can and to prepare the boys for the final six Bundesliga fixtures in May. “Obviously that experience is a big advantage. I looked in my folder straight away to see what exercises we did last March. But it’s not comparable with the current situation because we won’t have any time to prepare on the training pitch once these two weeks are over. The communication between the lads and myself has been really good, they know where to find me. It’s a huge plus that the players were given equipment like treadmills, bikes and foam rollers so quickly by the club,” says the coach who has been with the club since 2008, save for a two year break.
Stop-start movements and injury prevention
Kuchno has put in place a well thought-out training program with one eye on the the packed schedule that awaits the Old Lady next month. “We are on track to cover all different exercise types. We are doing really well at the moment. Some things are hard to get in, things like stopping and starting and changing direction. Simulating those things – that will be the difficulty in the days to come. The lads might have to move some furtniture to one side for that! We have to be flexible and creative!” Our goalkeepers are taking part in some of the sessions as well as training separately with goalkeeping coach Ilja Hofstädt.The tough but innovative work is designed to ensure that the players can cope with a high-tempo style of play and keep their heads above water until the end of the season. “We have to deal with the issue of injuries a lot. I don’t have a magic wand to make it go away and I never will. If we can get through this period injury-free, I would be delighted, but we can’t rule anything out. We're doing everything we can to ensure that the boys go into the games in very good shape,” stresses the coach, referencing the good state of fitness that Hertha players have enjoyed so far this season. When the players are allowed to work together in the fresh air again at the end of April, Henrik Kuchno will be leading the way. By then, the team will be around him in person at Schenckendorffplatz, and not just present through webcams and screens.