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Our training: a typical week

Peter Varellas's picture
By: Peter Varellas : March 19, 2012

Hello again everyone! We are officially in the doldrums: the meaty part of our 7 month-long training year leading up to the Olympic Games. We are less than 150 days from the opening ceremonies, and the sense of urgency and anticipation is starting to grow. Our daily schedule is extremely demanding, and it occurred to me that some of you may be wondering exactly what our training looks like, so I will attempt to paint you a picture of exactly what we do on a daily basis.

We are currently on a 9-practice per week schedule. This means that each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we train in both he morning and evening, while Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday feature just one practice each.

Double Days:
Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday begins with a 2 hour weight training session in the gym. We are very fortunate to be working with a group called the Peak Performance Project (P3) from Santa Barbara during these weight room workouts. After putting each individual through specific physical testing, the P3 staff has developed individual strength programs for each of our athletes.
After leaving the gym, we hit the pool for an hour and a half conditioning workout. This session generally consists of swim conditioning and legwork. As you can see, the focus of these morning trainings is overall physical fitness. The water polo skill and tactical work, on the other hand, usually comes at night.
Night practices run for two and a half hours and typically include warm up (and maybe some conditioning), individual skill work with a ball (lots of passing drills), shooting drills, and team tactics. Wednesday nights are fondly referred to as "Competition Wednesday," and training is basically a realistic, full-length inter squad game. Needless to say, we get very competitive with one another.

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday:
The remaining days of the week feature single training session that tend to include a bit of everything. Starting with swim conditioning, we often break into group at various stations that may include more swimming, legwork with weight belts or elastic bands, and shooting drills. Team tactical work generally wraps up these 3 hour morning workouts.

Lazy Sunday:
With all this physical exertion, Sunday becomes a crucial part of our training. Our bodies need to recover! Sunday means time to catch up on sleep, let sore muscles relax, catch up with family, and do normal life things. In a word, Sundays are golden!

So we know about the importance of rest, but what about fuel? We have to put the right things in our bodies at the right times in order to sustain maximum effort over the long hours of training. For example, in the middle of our 4 hour morning trainings during double days, we all get a big snack as we transition from the weight room to the water. Our spread includes fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, honey, peanut butter, and of course, pistachios. In general, but especially after weights, the body needs proteins to rebuild muscle fiber and add strength. Also, antioxidants help reduce the stress our bodies take on a daily basis. Extra vitamins and good healthy fats are essential for our health and provide additional energy stores. With only a 15 minute snack period, the little green nuts are super easy to grab and go before putting our sunscreen on and hopping in the pool!