Monday, September 21, 2015

Training weekend in Melbystrand

We went early Saturday morning south to Mellbystrand for our final weekend of team bonding before the elite series premieres on 3 October.

The weekend began with a three-hour morning practice, which proved tough after the long drive and early morning. It definitely shows that our team has had nearly three weeks of tough preseason training sessions and matches as we have intermittent low points, but are working to minimize these lulls between some great performances on the court.

Warming up against Svedala
Afterwards, we had a short break for lunch and fresh air before playing a friendly match against league opponent Svedala. The visiting team has some new talented Americans on their roster, and can be expected to be a tough opponent throughout the year. We were on our toes from the start, and despite trailing early in the the first set, managed to find our rhythm and win easily 25-15.

As the match continued, Svedala's performance improved with a quick offense, but second frame followed similarly to the first, 25-20.

It became more and more clear as the match rolled on that we had endured a long morning. Our bodies and minds dropped their edge, but Svedala maintained their energy and high-tempo, and pressured us more in serve receive. Daniel made a few line-up changes, but in the end we were unable to maintain our focus while the visitors sped up the pace of the game. 

We lost 18-25 in the third, and became more physically and mentally tired. In the fourth, Svedala again came out on top, 23-25 ​​in a well played set. In those situations, when we have more pressure to win, we need to be able to handle it mentally. They took the match with the final set of 10-15.

This was our first loss of pre-season, but Daniel is pleased with how we acted in the weekend. A great training against a strong opponent gave us our first reminder of what it takes to be in the top of the league: higher intensity, higher focus, and the ability to maintain confidence in tight situations.

That evening, we had more team bonding activities, highlighted by the Super 5-Kamp competition.

Many of you may be asking "What is Super 5-Kamp?" Well, here is a YouTube video that can shed some light into our team building activity. 

  • Swing-Rod: Swing and wiggle your hips to swing the ball away as far as possible, expertly demonstrated by Lisa.

  • Head Hunter: Catch the balls that your teammates throw. The intricacy is that you must catch the balls with a velcro "hat", see Emina's focused example here:

  • Stork Dance: Find the right eggs and spring back to your teammates. The difficult part of it all is that your face is covered by a large "stork's beak"; Hanna and Lina get down and dirty.

  • Jockey Leap: A hilarious relay race where you have to hold a stick between your knees; Mathilda shows us how it's done.

  • Kindergarten races: Collect them scattered tiles before the other team. Due to potential risk of injury, Daniel excluded this from our tournament.
Winning team of "Super 5 Kamp": Emina, Pauline, me, and Ester

On Sunday, we had another 3-hour training, before finally returning back to G-town. I am sure that I speak for everyone on the team when I say that we are MORE than excited to be starting our season on October 3. 

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