AQUATIC SPORTS TRAINING
For all Aquatics sports, the training philosophy and goals are the same: work hard to become the best athlete you are capable of becoming. An extremely high level of work is expected inside and outside the water. In addition to daily practices, aquatic athletes benefit from dry land training and weights. The training philosophy starts with training on your feet. The goals are to develop great posture, body control, flexibility, technique and speed of the movement, and total body strength.
Training on your feet means we Olympic lift (snatch, clean and jerk), squat (front, back, and over head) and dead lift. The first goal is to develop great posture, body awareness and increase range of motion. We start this process with the foot position and work our way up the body through full range of motion. All movements and techniques are taught with a stick to develop posture, flexibility, and technique. Since the athletes work through their full range of motion their muscles become stronger at their weakest point instead of just strengthening them at a partial range of motion. This type of training leads to stronger more flexible athletes. Once these things are accomplished we work on the speed of the movement and as technique and speed improves the weight lifted increases.
In addition to developing posture, flexibility, strength, and power through the Olympic lifts there are additional exercises critical for success in Aquatic sports. The swimmers work on plyometrics in order to improve reaction time, starts and turns. The divers are also working plyometric s to develop single and double leg power and hand stand holds to improve confidence in competition performance. In water polo athletes throw and catch weighted implements to condition shoulder stability required in shooting and blocking. Rowing athletes focus on the Olympic lifts because the biomechanics of the stroke are nearly parallel to the weight lifting technique.
In all Aquatic sports the major emphasis is core training. In addition to training the core through strength and power movement we use various exercises specific to each sport. The TRX suspension trainer is a critical tool in performing Aquatic specific core movements. The TRX trainer involves two free hanging cords in which the athlete places his or her feet. While maintaining a push up position, the legs are free to perform various core strengthening movements, which can imitate various swimming leg actions, water polo "egg beater," tuck positions in diving, and the recovery phase of the rowing stroke. Each of these exercises can be performed for time, imitating the time under tension required by the core in each of their sports.
In conclusion, Aquatic sports demand extreme amounts of work in the water. Because there's so little ground training in their practice equal amounts of work are required outside the water. All of the Aquatic sports have embraced the hard work mentality that is representative of UCLA's Athletic Department motto "Champions made here."
By Jill Robinson & Charlie Stocking
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