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Our team has officially made it to week four of the Grand Prix, which means two things: delirium has definitely set in for most of us and our legs have basically turned to Jell-O. The good news is that we’ve qualified for the Grand Prix finals next week in Bangkok, Thailand. (Although that means we’re looking at another 15-hour flight; so, if anyone wants to donate miles for that upgrade, let me know.)
Volleyball might not seem like hard work to an outsider. I mean all we do is jump, right? You wouldn’t be wrong as about three-fourths of my day is usually dedicated to jumping, but the continuous reps can take a toll. After a 6 a.m. wake-up call; four-hour practice with jumping; additional weights, video, tutoring; and three more hours of practice and jumping, our bodies are pretty beat up.
The true lifesaver is VERT technology. Team USA wears these little black jump-tracking devices during practice. They track and measure how much we jump, how high we jump and how hard we jump. This lets our coach, Karch Kiraly, know that we are actually working and how much we can handle practice. Everyone is different, especially when you’re recovering from an injury, and these devices take out the guesswork for players and coaches. The VERT device has really given us a chance to get to know our bodies and to prepare.
So how does this amazing technology work? A wearable jump monitor is strapped around your waist or chest, similar to a heart-rate monitor. The information is then stored and can be accessed through an app that is compatible with an iPad, iPhone, Mac, etc. At any point in practice, I can hold down a button on the side of the monitor and it will tell me the amount of jumps I’ve taken. I can also check the app. The information is literally at my fingertips!
The VERT device really does give us a leg up on the competition. And in our sport, a leg up is everything.