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In addition to training at Vasper with NASA (more on that revolutionary training in next week's post), I've also been training at a place called SPARTA in Menlo Park, Calif. It's a facility whose scientific philosophy is based on trying to create equal rates between force, rate and time. They are teaching me about angles and techniques that will improve my quickness and efficiency. It has been a very enlightening experience for me, as I've learned about a whole different type of training.
Here's how Dr. Phil Wagner, the founder of SPARTA and one of the coaches there, described the training plan he'd devised for me:
We use the force plate to objectively diagnose and prescribe movements to reprogram the neuromuscular system. In your case, we use exercises that will improve your time on the ground, so single-leg or overhead lifts seek to increase mobility and muscles that will allow a more prolonged force production. The program also will avoid double leg, quicker movements, since you produce movement so well in this regard, quickly and stiffly. This prescription is provided along with a sound regeneration program that focuses on sleep, soft tissue work, and nutritional counseling. With you, our keys have been on the sleep side (Stanford athletes don't like to sleep!) to improve neural plasticity, the ability to learn things like time sooner, and also implementing the frequency of your soft tissue work (arches and calves!).
I train at SPARTA four times a week. It is very intense, but I have been feeling great after working with them for almost a month now. The workouts mainly consist of weight lifting, jumping on the force plate, sled-pushes, and using the slide board. I have finally graduated out of the sled-pushes, so needless to say I was a happy athlete the day I got to leave those behind me.
The SPARTA trainers do checks with me every week to make sure I am still getting the maximum benefit of the training. They check on my sleep habits, eating habits, and training/soft tissue work, just to name a few. I have been training here with a couple of guys who play major league baseball or are in the NFL. I was a little hesitant at first training with all these men, but I am doing my best to represent for the female athletes!
The trainers are always around to coach us through the workouts and push us. They record our numbers and then devise the next workout using that data. The trainers also provide constant feedback on technique, making sure we're using proper form. I really like it, and it has turned out to be such a good thing for me. The competitive attitude around the gym really helps me push myself.
I've only been doing this for a little more than a month, but already I am noticing dramatic changes -- not only in the way I feel, but also in the way I look and move on the court. I feel almost like I'm getting back to my junior-year shape. For me that's exciting, because my entire senior year I was hurt, coming off a knee injury, and then struggling with the ankle/foot injury towards the end of 2010. I've only got six weeks of training left, and I'm really excited to get back on the court and actually be fully healthy and not have to be worried about coming down and having my ankle blow out. I think it's really going to help my confidence, knowing that I've done all this training and made my body healthier and stronger.