Student athletes behind the scenes, outside of practice

Karina Cope

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Exercising and working out apart from scheduled practices is crucial to an athlete’s success on the playing field, court or track.

Implementing a solid gym routine into their weekly schedules keeps athletes on top of their game and drastically improves their performance and the performance is what we see. The grind in the weight room, sprints along the grass and sweat dripping onto gym mats is what we don’t see.

“I still feel the need to be active every day even on our days off, if that means going to the WREC and doing a class, going on a run or even open gym,” Clare Wilson of the Chico State volleyball team said.

This fall semester, Chico State’s volleyball team has started receiving special instruction from a strength and conditioning coach, Colin Coughenour. The team works out with Coughenour three times a week.

During these 30 to 45-minute sessions, the girls will start with breathing exercises and stretching out their arms and legs. They then transition into specially designed exercises demonstrated by Coughenour, including total lunges, 3D squats, lunge squats using benches, shoulder rotations with dumbbells, hip thrusts using the barbell, arm pull-downs with resistance bands and more.

“We’ve seen huge gains in the weight room transferring over to practice and matches,” libero Brooke Fogel said. “It’s been phenomenal what we’ve been able to accomplish from the workouts.”

Each position on a sports team requires different skill sets and athletic specializations. Specific workouts benefit specific positions in various ways. When individual strengths and talents are combined, a strong team is formed.

“I mostly work on agility and exercises that allow me to have quick movements on the court, whereas hitters try to be more dynamic,” Fogel said. “So, I’m not lifting as much weight, I’m doing exercises that make me faster.”

Hitters largely focus on dominance in their upper body and shoulders, which contrasts greatly to what liberos, like Fogel target.

Wilson, who is an opposite hitter, described how her main focus in the gym during volleyball season has been on upper body strength. However, once the off season rolls around, the focus will switch over to legs. With special guidance from Coughenour regarding which muscle groups to draw attention to and when, Wilson believes this muscle transition between seasons will get the most out of the hitters’ workouts.

Practice is a standard component of all athletic sports and teams. However, people often fail to realize the gym component of athletes as well. Behind one’s game performance is hours of hard work and training. Exercising and lifting weights transfers over into practice, and practice transfers over into performance.

Karina Cope can be reached at [email protected] or @KarinaICope on Twitter.

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