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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

This isn't your average, relaxing dip in the pool.

Running underwater and holding onto the edge of the pool while kicking as hard as you can for half a minute - flexibility exercises don?t sound like fun, but they all make up part of the UF volleyball team?s strength and conditioning training during the season.

Instead of forcing the team to run laps around the volleyball court when practice ends, the Gators take a trip to the O?Connell Center pool on Tuesdays for a different kind of cool-down.

Matt DeLancey, the fifth-year volleyball strength and conditioning coach, implemented the program when he came to UF in 2003.

BWe use it as a way to keep them in great shape without tearing them down,C he said. BThey don?t need all the extra wear and tear.C

Off-season workouts are heavier on the heart rate - requiring the players to swim laps - and the workouts allow the players to sweat as much as they would while running.

During the season, it?s all about resting up and recuperating the muscles in preparation for the following week?s matches.

BThe recovery ones that we do in-season really help because they help our muscles recover and get rid of some of the soreness,C senior opposite hitter Amber McCray said.

McCray injured her right knee after her freshman season, forcing her to redshirt for her sophomore year, and she says the flexibility exercises help her knee stay elastic.

UF coach Mary Wise has also noticed the improvement in recovery time. The only problem at first, she said, was teaching volleyball players to swim.

BOnce we got a group of players that wouldn?t drown, I think it?s incredibly helpful in terms of recovery,C Wise said.

The pool training produces tangible results on the court.

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The players have to do jump training in the water, where DeLancey said chest-high water takes 90 percent off their body weight.

BI think that it helps with our vertical, with our explosion because we have all that water that?s resisting us,C sophomore libero Elyse Cusack said.

McCray also says she can see improvement in jumping.

BWhen you?re jumping in the pool and you don?t have the resistance that you?d have on land, it could really get you using those muscles more,C McCray said. BOnce you do get on land, it?s a lot easier.C

Other UF athletes use the pool as well, DeLancey said. He has seen members of the track and field teams in the water, along with some sprinters and even baseball players.

Plus, DeLancey said the players enjoy swimming in the pool more than they do running on the court.

BIt?s a change of environment,C he said. BIt feels good. Plus, after we get done in the pool, we walk down to the hot tubs by where the divers dive, and they stretch in the hot tub.C

He adds some more fun to the workout when he brings a Nerf football to the pool and has the players swim around after it.

After having a little fun, though, it?s back to business.

BSometimes we have a hard practice, and I?m hot, so we jump in the pool and it?s nice,C Cusack said. BBut, before we know it, we?re working up a sweat again.C

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