SASI Volleyballers dodged the cold for their 2015 Winter Training Camp

30 Jul 2015

On the 9th of July 2015 six SASI Volleyballers and their coaches escaped the chilly Adelaide weather, with highs of just 10 degrees and set off to sunny Cairns, where they could enjoy beautiful weather with highs of 26 degrees. However, it was not a leisurely holiday, rather a mentally and physically demanding training camp. The squad, including Britt Kendall, Stef Weiler, Max Grueher, Zach Schubert, Elliott Viles and Simon Gray were joined by another WA volleyballer, as well as coaches Mick Nelson and Tim Noble and SASI psychologist Emma Mattey. They spent nine days in Cairns, participating in a wide variety of activities, designed to test their physical and mental capabilities.

Mick Nelson and the staff put the group through their paces on and off the sand. Athletes were confronted by a wide variety of challenges related to mental toughness, decision making, team work, and problem solving. On the sand Mick and the coaching staff worked to create competitive situations, in which athletes needed to perform under physical and mental pressure. Athletes were challenged to both work together and compete with each other in order to execute many different skills.

Off the sand the athletes engaged in workshops related to mental toughnesss, during which they learnt vital skills that they need to apply to cope with the challenges thrown at them during training, especially in the new training environment. Athletes were also subject to team challenges away from the court, relating to team building and problem solving. Focus was on developing skills in communication and taking action as a team, whilst still working within limitations and rules.

A typical training day included an early wake up in order to take part in streching and activation activites, designed to get the athletes bodies moving, followed by recovery in the hotel pool or the public lagoon. A 2 hour training session followed, during which the coaches challenged the athletes physically and mentally, all while Emma videoed the session to capture their reactions under pressure. From this video, Emma provided the athletes with feedback and reminders to engage with the skills learnt in their workshops. Physical recovery followed these sessions, as well as team meetings, psych sessions and opportunites to review video footage from the session and review their learning from each day.

Physical testing, related to conditioning and vertical jumps was also completed throughout the camp. The staff worked hard to ensure the athletes wellbeing by asking them to complete daily monitoring of their physical and mental state and their progress on their individual goals for the camp.  At the end of a long day, staff and athletes alike were given the opportunity to relax and enjoy the paradise that is Cairns. During the time that athletes were given off from training, meetings and team challenges, they were encouraged to explore all that Cairns had to offer including a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef.

As an added bonus for the people of Cairns, the athletes very kindly volunteered their time to act as coaches at the Wednesday night volleyball community clinic, sharing their expertise with the residents and tourists of Cairns.

The camp  finished up on Friday the 17th July and support staff returned home while the athletes stayed in Cairns for the weekend of the 18th and 19th of July to compete in a local beach volleyball competition, where the mens teams played each other in the final.