When you take “water” away from “water polo”

3 mins read

The past few months have been hard on all of us. The Covid‑19 pandemic has affected various aspects of our everyday lives and has put the world of sports to a halt. 

Training facilities got closed, leagues got cancelled and the Olympic Games got postponed. 

Athletes all around the world were forced to come up with unique ways of maintaining their shape until everything is back to “normal”. 

After the University of Stirling closed down all its sport facilities on March 17th, it was up to the sports clubs themselves to figure out a way to keep their training going. 

This was a big challenge for the University of Stirling Water Polo (USWC) team, more than for the other ‘dry’ sports. 

Lucky for the girls’ part of the team, the senior strength and conditioning (S&C) interns, Marcus Graham and Matthew Brown, found a way to connect with their athletes even during lockdown. 

Twice a week from the comfort of their homes, a Zoom S&C session is alternatingly led by the coaching duo and is attended by the UCWC members from all around the globe; from the UK to Italy and all the way to America. 

USWC (IMAGE: University of Stirling Waterpolo Club facebook)

“The ‘lockdown’ sessions obviously aren’t the same as the strength-based sessions we have in the Performance gym where we can throw some serious weights about,” Graham says, “[we had] to come up with sessions that use a bit of ‘out‑of‑the‑box’ thinking.” 

Although these Zoom sessions are lot more difficult coaching‑wise, Brown sees them as “a refreshing experience to expand our creativity as developing S&C practitioners, and to delve into different training modalities.” 

He also admits that these sessions have “an additional benefits outside of S&C in maintaining relationships [with the team] in times of uncertainty.” 

When the USWC squad was asked to describe their new training sessions and their coaches, words such as “exceptionally committed”, “very creative” and “unbelievable” were thrown around. 

The team explained that there aren’t enough adjectives to express their gratitude to the coaches, for looking after their physical and mental health even during the world pandemic. 

As Natasha Love, the president of USWC puts it: “the interest from both coaches…and the impact it may have on us, has been really motivating and uniting as a team ‑ something they’re definitely a valued part of.” 

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Film, Media and Journalism student at the University of Stirling. Sports editor @ Brig Newspaper. Bylines in Edinburgh Evening Times and the SPA National Magazine.

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