It’s been a while since my last blog post, and a lot has happened. I’ve been meaning to write, but I’m often so tired from training or adventuring to expend the energy it takes to type. That is also just a lame excuse for preferring to lay on my bed and watch a movie…
Instead of being lazy today after morning weights and an early afternoon practice, I decide to walk to a nearby park, gather inspiration from the flowers and trees, and write a blog post (there’s also no wi-fi at a park, so watching a movie isn’t an option). This entry is about what it’s like to be training on a professional volleyball team during the preseason. In other words, “a day in my life as a professional volleyball player”.
Here’s how it typically goes:
8:20 AM – My alarm goes off. Usually I’m still in the deepest of sleep, and throw my curtains open in rage, so the sunlight can violently flood the room and scream at me to get my butt out of bed. I throw on my workout clothes that I set out the night before, shovel some yogurt and muesli down my throat, chase with a cup of coffee, and leave my apartment around 8:50. I drive to our gym, which takes about 10 minutes, put my bag in the locker room, and put my shoes on.
9:20 AM – I make the trek from our locker room to the weight room for our morning workout. Our workout facility is a tiny thing, pretty much the size of my kitchen, which is non-existent, and includes one machine of every type. I start off by biking and doing some warmup exercises with the team, then we split up and hit the weights.
The way they lift weights here is very different from what I’ve been taught in the USA. Our strength coach is one of the funniest old men I have ever met. He’s has to be well over 70. His program has us lifting light weight very quickly, doing a ton of reps, and constantly alternating stances and grips. We also do one exercise until we are finished with it, then move on and do something else, instead of building circuits of three exercises at a time. For example, when I do his squat workout, I end up doing about 10 sets of 10 reps at varied weights, stances, and depths, equaling about 100 squats total. That’s a lot of squats. And then I move on to another exercise.
Although his methods seem a little crazy at first, and he likes to yell words that we don’t understand, I do think our strength coach has a solid amount of credibility. I am going to get a lot faster working with him, and improve my explosiveness. He also continues to surprise me by seeing me doing an exercise of my own, and instead of yelling at me to stop, he simply offers an adjustment that turns out to be quite helpful. I like to try out new ways of doing things before deciding whether or not I agree with them, and after doing his workouts for three weeks, I do agree with the majority of the things he has us doing, and think that they will help me improve. But I still believe in doing some type of circuit work, so I’ve combined his methods and what I’ve been previously taught. I do all of the exercises he has for us, and in between reps I add in exercises of my own to create better balance and continue with what has worked for me in the past. So far, it’s going great.
Our strength coach being himself:
- The first day I met him, he asked me what my name is, where I’m from, etc. Every time I answered one of his questions, he laughed at me like it was the funniest thing he’s ever heard. I was uncomfortable.
- He thinks I sweat too much. I am sweating quite a bit, but not abnormally. I just sweat a lot. Once when I was working out, he walked up to me, swiped a finger down my arm and stood staring at it for a couple seconds. Then he growled up into my face that I am a fish, and I sweat too much. He told me I need to dry out.
- He likes to call people by the wrong name just to piss them off. Usually the names he chooses are kind of insulting. One girl on our team is named Nneka, but he keeps calling her Mija. I don’t even know where he got that from, and she just glares at him without responding. He loves it. He calls me Carl-eye in a mocking drawl, but that’s not that bad. He referred to Alex, a Swedish girl on my team, as the dumb blonde for quite a while. And the latest is that Juliann is a Mexican gypsy.
- He held me after weights one day, because he said he had something for me. He gave me a French book about a man who lives with lions. Thanks.
- He asked me what I eat one day as I was doing pull-ups. I told him I eat the standard good stuff: vegetables, fruits, chicken, fish, rice, etc. He said all of that’s good, but to avoid eating pizza or pasta. I told him I don’t eat that stuff very often. Then he said that Alex told him I’m an alcoholic and am always drinking. Alex looked confused for a second, then burst out laughing, and played along, saying that I’m drunk every time she sees me in the apartments. Lovely.
- Today I was on the bike, and he yelled at me for having eaten pizza recently. I haven’t eaten any pizza.
- He likes to ask us how we feel, and he never seems to like our answers. One time I boldly told him I was a bit tired. He got angry, mimicked me in a high-pitched voice, and said that Americans should never be tired.
- He makes grunting and growling noises at Juliann (an American teammate) while he watches her lift.
- He says Juliann and I are too strong. We need to shrink our muscles. She also sweats too much.
11:00 AM – We are done prancing around for our strength coach, and make our way back to the locker room, where we shower and grab our things. Then I drive back to my apartment, and cook lunch. Sometimes I’ll stop at the grocery store along the way. Food is ridiculously expensive here, so I’ve been trying to cook everything on my own.
1:00 PM – I lay around, do laundry, watch movies, cook, read, complain to family about how bored I am, etc. Sometimes I go walk around outside. Sometimes I also drink 3 or 4 cups of coffee.
3:20 PM – I drive to the gym for practice which starts at 4. I do a bunch of shoulder exercises before-hand, then all of us warm up and get going. Practice is hard and fast, and lasts for about two hours. I love the coach and team, and really like the way practice has been run so far. We do a lot of drills at a fast pace, and I’ve been able to work on developing my defense and setting, in addition to the usual blocking and hitting as a middle. The coach is trying to change my technique in some aspects, which has been a bit difficult to adjust to, but I am confident the changes will make me a better volleyball player, so I am eager to learn. He coaches me in French, then 3 different people try to help by translating and telling me what I’m doing wrong, even though I usually understand my coach the first time. It can be a tad overwhelming being told that you suck by four people at the same time, in two different languages.
6:00 PM – We stretch, everybody says ciao to each other, and I drive back to the apartments. As soon as I walk into my apartment, I toss all my sweat soaked things onto the porch, and jump into the shower. Next, I cook dinner accompanied by the calm classical music of George Winston. Or Eminem. Depends on how practice went. Then I eat. By this time, everybody at home has woken up, and I can talk and video chat with all my friends and family. A couple times a week, I also have an evening French class. Sometimes I’ll end the evening by watching a movie by myself or with a teammate. Then it’s lights out, and I fall into a deep, deep sleep until my alarm goes off and the same thing begins all over again. Until we are given the beautiful gift of a day off. Then I go adventuring.