Animated Conte turns to yoga moves

LONDON • Deep relaxation may not be a trait readily associated with the usually frenetic Antonio Conte, but the Chelsea manager paused for breath in the middle of the hectic winter schedule to confess his fondness for yoga.

The 48-year-old, who often lends himself to hyperactive exertions on the touchline during games, may not appear to be the meditating type. But he admitted that a relentless series of matchdays can leave a manager shattered.

"When you live the game in this way, when you finish you are a bit exhausted," he said.

"Maybe when I become older then I start to be more calm and to try to sit during the game."

It is hard to imagine, but the fact he is even considering it is revealing. The impact of this busy period on players, performances and the product of English football is an important conversation that should not be undermined.

Managers, Conte added, are not impervious by any means. He has stopped training during the week to conserve some of the energy he will summon when the whistle blows to signal deep competition where he feels every kick from his technical area.

"I think I am well trained for this but to play every three days is a big effort not only for my players but also for me," the Italian said.

With all that intensity, he is grateful that the club have a trainer as part of the support staff who offers strategies to de-stress. He takes up the opportunity for moments of respite by stretching and engaging in relaxation techniques every now and then at their Cobham training ground.

"This is good, personally I like it and am very interested in yoga. I like to read books about these topics," he said.

He is also noticing a difference this season compared to last in that Chelsea are involved in four competitions - a substantial increase in their workload from a year ago.

"Last season we played only two because in the (League) Cup we were out very soon in the second round," he added. "This season you have to face all four and you continue to go through. You must be prepared with many players to face other competitions."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2018, with the headline 'Animated Conte turns to yoga moves'. Print Edition | Subscribe