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What it takes to be a champ

Hello everybody, it has been a few weeks since Super Bowl weekend. I have been a New York Giants fan for years and loved watching them defeat the New England Patriots. It was an incredible game that came down to the very last play. During the game I saw the team effort that it took from the New York Giants to win. They did not have one breakout player; it took their whole team on offense, defense and special teams to get the job done. The New York Giants remind me a lot of my team and our team dynamic. All year, the Giants were a team that didn’t let anyone tell them that they could not succeed. When their backs were against the wall they dug deeper and pulled off the victory. They are also a team that prepared week in and week out with video study and hours of practice to make sure they were ready for their opponents. I want to say congratulations to the 2012 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. They showed the world what it takes to become a champion.

Like I said, I see a lot of similarities between my team and the 2012 New York Giants. The U.S. National Water Polo team is fighting this year to become the first ever American Olympic Champion in water polo. We have heard from many people that it cannot be done, but if anything, that just pushes us harder. We have decided as a team to sacrifice playing professionally this year in Europe and stay together to train domestically in Thousand Oaks, California. We made this decision because we feel that it gives us adequate time to build chemistry, fully prepare ourselves physically, and allow us the best chance of obtaining our goal of winning a Gold Medal in the 2012 London Olympics.

A lot of people ask me what our training schedule is and what we do in practice. I am going to break down a week of training for all my readers so you have a better understanding of what we are doing to make sure we are at our best at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings start off with a two hour weight lifting session. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with one of the most advanced sports conditioning groups in the world called Peak Performance Project. Peak Performance Project was founded by Marcus Elliott, M.D., who has, with his intellect and experience, developed scientific methods for building better sport-specific muscles that resist injury and perform better under the stress of competition. After our weight workout we go directly to the pool and condition for an hour and a half. Conditioning usually includes about 3,000 to 4,000 yards of swimming for the field players. Our coach will do different swim sets for different days. One day might be a sprint set and another day might be a long distance swim to build endurance. Conditioning for the goalkeepers also includes swimming, but focuses mainly on legwork since our position is primarily played in the vertical position with very little swimming. Our program includes various leg conditioning exercises. Our coaches have us hold weighted balls over our head for an extended period of time. They also have us do lunge sets in the goal which mimics the motions that we perform in a game when blocking the ball. Another exercise uses a stretch band that attaches to the wall and to our waist. We have to pull it to its maximum length and hold that position in the water for a duration of time. Some drills can be combined to increase difficulty, like doing lunge sets with the stretch band attached to our waist.

On Monday and Friday night our practices usually start off with between 1,000 and 2,000 yards of swimming and then passing drills to warm up our arms. After the swim and warm up we do multiple game situation shooting drills, and then usually finish with a counter attack drill or 6 on 5 man-up or man-down scenarios. Monday and Friday night practices last two and a half hours.

Tuesday and Thursday practice is usually a mixed bag of tricks for us. The coaches usually set up a circuit of work out stations that consist of swimming, leg conditioning and shooting. We will usually warm up our bodies as a team for 45 minutes and then break up into 3 different groups. Each group will go through the 15 minute stations two times. If there is time at the end of work out we will usually work on 6 on 5 man-up or man-down scenarios. Tuesday and Thursday practices last two and a half hours.

Wednesday night and Saturday are the best practices in my mind. I say this because on these days we usually split up into two teams and have a scrimmage game. We take these games very seriously and they get really competitive. These games are very important for us because they highlight what we are doing well and what we need to work on as a team in true game situations. Wednesday night and Saturday practices last two and a half hours as well. We start by warming up our bodies with swimming and shooting, then scrimmage in a game situation for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

So, as you can see, we have 9 extremely hard practices a week with only Sunday as our day off to help our bodies recover. I hope I have helped you understand what my team and I are doing to make sure that we are prepared to achieve our goal of being Olympic Champions. Please follow along with me and my team’s journey to Olympic gold on my Twitter @MerrillMoses or my athlete Facebook page under Merrill Moses. Thanks for all of your support.