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Five Disciplines Key to Twelvetrees' Approach to Conditioning BCC Athletes
May 20, 2013 - Oliver Twelvetrees approach as Brevard Community College's strength and conditioning coach transcends his title.
"I consider myself a SPARQ trainer," said Twelvetrees, whose main responsibility is head coach of BCC's new men's soccer team. "Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction, Quickness. These are the components that every athlete needs to excel on the court, field or gym."
Twelvetrees joined BCC in December from Barton Community College in Great Bend, KS and immediately began working to both fill the roster of his team, which begins competition this fall, and improve the conditioning of the college's current athletes.
He likes what he has seen.
"Volleyball completed two eight-week cycles, a strength phase plus a power phase and showed huge gains," Twelvetrees said. "Overall the women all made gains of between 10 percent to 60 percent in bench press, squats, cleans, vertical jump and muscular endurance testing.
Brevard Community College women’s basketball players Shanecee Stephens, on bench, and Tomoriya Hamm at work in the weight room.
"One of the basketball red shirts put on about 10 pounds of lean muscle mass, while improving his vertical jump by two inches. I did a lot of high energy CrossFit exercises with women's basketball to improve muscular endurance and there were some positive strides made by a number of the young women.
"For women's soccer I focused on the speed and agility training for the two weeks I had with them and hope to continue my work with them in the fall."
Strength and conditioning work with athletes is nothing new in college athletics, especially at the top-tier NCAA Division I schools where it is an industry. It also is commonplace among NJCAA institutions that do not have the resources of their bigger brethren but appreciate the programs' importance.
That's where the philosophy of the strength and conditioning coach comes into play.
"There are more ideas, equipment and regimes out there than ever before," Twelvetrees said. "The good trainers will copy other ideas and stay up to date with the latest trends in the business. At our level it is about putting in the time and seeing the gains.
"My biggest successes have come with the athletes who want to put in the work. I cannot lift the weights for them and it takes time to do it so students with motivation and desire to get better are the success stories."
To that end Twelvetrees' approach is heavy on effort.
"I am big into CrossFit, it incorporates body weight and full body exercises," he said. "It helps all athletes use their body more efficiently and for longer. This type of training doesn't just make you stronger at lifting a bar up and down, but actually enables you to perform full body movements for longer and at higher intensity. That makes you a better athlete.
"I am a big believer in overload. It doesn't matter how you get there, but you have to get to the point where you can't go anymore. So there are no shortcuts. Working hard — not going through the motions — will see you make the most gains. Whether it is not reaching top speed in a ladder, or lifting a weight that is too light you will not see improvement unless maximum effort is reached."
That being said, there is another component to Twelvetrees' approach that is just as vital: nutrition.
"It is very important to monitor what you fuel your body with," he said. "You wouldn't put diesel in a gasoline engine and some of the food choices out there today are not what your body needs. Eating right — lean protein and complex carbohydrates — can result in your gains improving enormously."
Achieving those gains is a year-round process with the off-season being especially vital.
"In the off-season you can build more strength and size to improve power and generally put them through tougher, longer and more frequent workouts," Twelvetrees said. "The off-season is the time when athletes can really make a major difference in their physical attributes. For example in volleyball and basketball athletes can improve their vertical jump.
Men's basketball player Julian Adams felt that his recent focus on strength and conditioning made him quicker on the court.
"During the season I use macro and micro cycles. It is more of a maintenance and confidence program, in that the athletes will not reach overload in every exercise to actually break down the muscle and build muscle mass. However, they will still improve coordination and muscular endurance so that they can be more efficient and reduce the risk of injury. The time in the weight room will also help the mental side of the game and give them confidence physically."
Men's basketball rising sophomore Julian Adams can attest to the value of the strength and conditioning program.
"I felt, in the span of a few weeks, a lot stronger, quicker on my feet, I felt in more control of my body," said Adams, of Palm Bay, FL and Bayside High.
"As an athlete getting stronger and getting faster is very important. For me personally it's a big thing. It's the difference in where I go when I leave here. It's a very big step."
The most challenging aspect for Adams was the core work.
"Everything else was just mental but that core gets to you toward the end of the workout," he said.
The program also benefited rising sophomore volleyball players Ashley Gonzalez and Alana Nielander.
"My benching went up from 85 to 120, my squatting went up from 140 to 230," said Gonzalez from Warner Robbins, GA and Houston County High.
"I know I can hit hard but I have no muscle, really. He trained some of the muscles you don't think you use for volleyball. I've seen a difference in my serve and my hitting too."
Ditto for Nielander.
"You will see a new player next year," said Nielander of Lake Placid, FL and Lake Placid High. "I'm a lot stronger. I can definitely tell on the court. I hit harder. I'm excited for next season."