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Athletics and academics come together for the win

Posted by on February 28, 2018

estrainingThe impressive season for women’s volleyball was very much an all-Spartan effort. Of course, the players themselves had a huge part in finishing the regular season with a 26–7 overall record. Though credit also goes to the students — exercise science majors — who played a key role in improving the student-athletes’ training regimen.

Women’s volleyball players and students in the exercise science program teamed up for a study that examined power, reaction time and vertical jump performance throughout the season. Once measures were recorded after practices and games, the students provided reports that detailed the level of stress placed on the body within different environments, allowing the coaches to modify training sessions to maximize performance.

“The information gained about how quickly our student-athletes can recover after matches and practices is invaluable,” said James Seitelman, head women’s volleyball coach. “It tells me how hard to train the players and if we can train more without losing quality repetitions.”

Seitelman also appreciates the collaboration between students, student-athletes and coaches. “It’s fun to work with the student trainers,” he said. “They have a different relationship with the student-athletes than coaches do. This peer-to-peer partnership allows both the student-athletes and those in training to gain from the experience of working together.”

Chris Pitsikoulis, chair and assistant professor of exercise science, agrees. “Student-athletes are always excited to have their peers aid in their athletic performance,” he said. “They’re always curious about new ways they can gain an advantage through training equipment and performance data.”

Through her work with student-athletes, junior Megan Bell has found a deeper appreciation for research. She is pursuing an exercise science degree with an emphasis in fitness and wellness.

“My favorite activity so far has been helping administer a pushup study,” said Bell. “During data colle ction, electrodes are placed on several muscles that are involved in a pushup. We then complete a series of tests to establish baseline values for each muscle. Participants attend six sessions and complete as many pushups as they can, using proper form, during various speeds. At the end of this study, we will beable to assess each muscle and how and when it is being recruited during a pushup at different speeds.”

Much of the research and training is done in a state-of-the-art exercise laboratory in Alumni Hall. “Using the lab equipment not only improves performance from a physical standpoint, but it’s motivating, too,” said Seitelman. “Our student-athletes and students are using equipment that, in most cases, is only found at Division 1 institutions.”

Women’s volleyball was the third athletics program to work with exercise science majors. More data collection of individual student-athletes and teams continues.