Fit for winning
Soccer squad earns best record in school history thanks to new training
Room 258 of the Rickel Building in late September looks like the scene from a Nike commercial.
The soccer team is gathered around teammate Kaylie Garcia as she sprints on a treadmill with a clear hose running from her mouth and a U-shaped clip closing off her nostrils, forcing her to breathe through her mouth. Girls shout encouragement over a blaring boombox as she battles through increasing inclines until she cannot keep up.
She jumps off the moving treadmill, guided by spotters, and wearily leans on the handrails, bent over, gasping for air.
Welcome to the team's training program with kinesiology professor David Upton.
Eight to 12 times a year, Upton tests the squad in traditional athletic drills: 40-yard dash, mile run, vertical jump and weights. The players also have their height, weight and body composition taken. Everything is measured and catalogued, from body fat percentage to 40 times.
Then there is the VO2 Max test that Garcia endured. A player runs with a breathing hose in her mouth which is attached to a computer measuring the oxygen volume during a maximum workout. It records the highest possible rate at which she can extract oxygen and use it to produce energy.
A higher score indicates the player is more capable of producing energy aerobically.
"It's grueling, but it's a good step to see how far you can push yourself," senior Caroline Starns said. "We get really competitive."
Upton has worked with the team since Spring 2007 when he had three soccer players in one class and a fourth in another.
Together, they've helped each other. The team has optimized its training regimen and increased its fitness. Upton has a wealth of new data to use to personalize training and workouts.
Looking at velocity and acceleration in the 40-yard dash, Upton said he may notice a player accelerates better 25 yards into the sprint than off the starting line. With that information, he can adjust her workout to improve reaction times from the start.
"I can't make everybody fast, but I can make everybody faster," Upton said.
The team improved by .42 seconds in the 40-yard dash since the previous tests eight weeks before.
Best of all, results have translated on the field. This season, TCU finished 14-4-2 and claimed third place in the Mountain West, both program bests.
"We had a confidence all season and part of that goes to how we trained and conditioned," coach Dan Abdalla said. "We saw numerous times how we had energy at the end of games."
This report contains material from the TCU Daily Skiff.
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