Columnist: Jenna O'Hea
Transforming us into a lean, mean Olympic team
FOR a sportsperson there is no bigger event than the Olympics and I am so blessed to be a part of the London Olympic campaign with the Australian Jayco Opals.
We have a squad of 20 girls that needs to be reduced to a final roster of 12. So far this year we have had one camp, which was in late March, and we entered camp No.2 in Canberra yesterday.
Since that first March camp, squad members have been working hard in their respective home states.
As a Melbourne girl, I’ve been very lucky to be able to utilise the Victorian Institute of Sport facility. Six squad members are Melbourne-based and we’ve been working extremely hard together, on and off the court. In camp our primary focus will be the on-court aspect of our game.
For the past six weeks the focus has been on conditioning.
Our strength and conditioning trainer Bohdan Babijczuk has had us on the athletics track several times a week. To most athletes this would not sound too strange, but basketball in Australia is very different. For a lot of basketballers, playing is a year-round job – it has been for me since I was young – so there is very little time for a proper pre-season.
AFL players and netballers have a distinct off-season period in which they can rest their bodies and then turn up the volume during pre-season.
Playing year round means that conditioning becomes complex and must be worked in to on-court preparation.
But because this is an Olympic year, the Jayco Opals squad members have all made a commitment to Basketball Australia to forgo the current playing season and prepare accordingly.
The past six weeks have been challenging and rewarding.
Because this type of training is new to all of us, it took awhile for our bodies to adjust and to get miles into our legs. For example, one of our recent sessions required us to complete more than 20 sprints of varying lengths, with minimal rest time. The quicker you run, the more rest time you get.
The rewards are starting to creep through, with vastly improved times and quicker recovery between reps.
Bohdan has constructed a program to have us in peak condition come our first game at the Olympics in July. He has incorporated running, agility work over hurdles, dynamic jumping drills, and has taught us new techniques that will benefit our movement on court.
Along with our conditioning program, we are also working hard in the weights room, although we are not following a traditional program.
It consists of a circuit that we try and finish as quickly as we can, which means limited rest time. To follow our circuit work of squats and calf raises, to name a few, we finish off with a circuit on the rings that really amps our abdominal work.
We do chin-ups, dips, pull-ups and push-ups on the rings, with a mix of abdominal exercises – it gives the upper body and core a tremendous workout. The aim is, of course, to be in prime condition and lean and trim come July.
Along with being on the track and in the weights room throughout the week, we are also on court with Jayco Opals assistant coach Michele Timms.
These sessions vary, with some consisting of lots of shooting, and others involving one-on-one or three-on-three drills in the full court and half court settings. Having so many squad members in Melbourne makes the sessions extremely competitive and more enjoyable.
With all this hard work, I’ve been eager for camp and joining the rest of the squad.
Now life goes up yet another gear.
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