Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tryouts - Strength Testing

Saturday, January 14, was the last day to try out for the Outlaws and the first day of practice.  I have dozens of cool photos from both practice and tryout events. 

One of the tryout challenges looks easy.  It isn't. 

It is a strength test.  One based on reps (repetitions) rather than total a single max lift.  Reps are deceptive.  Take a ten pound dumb bell and lift it straight up over your head.  Easy.  Now do it twenty times.  Not easy.

The tryouts used the bench press set-up - you get to lie down while doing it - and the bar with no additional weights attached. 

Now understand the bar by itself is heavy.  Forty pounds.  Benching forty pounds is no problem for the Outlaw players.

But the forty pounds becomes heavier with reps.  Ten reps and you're feeling it.  Twenty and you're straining.

You've seen the theme in many of my posts - I love the way sport brings out the very best in people.   I love the intensity as the athletes exert every bit of strength, energy, and will to do better than...

Well, better than the opponent in a game. 

In tests like the benching challenge, better than themselves.  Better than their last record.

I admire these ladies striving to improve performance.  As a photographer, I want to capture the effort for you.  A few athletes are more expressive than others, giving me some great photos.  As I viewed these facial expressions in my photo editor, I found my own muscles tensing, brow furrowing, trying to lift imaginary weights as the athlete fought with real weight.  Their effort is inspiring. 

Note:   If  you feel a photo I posted isn't complimentary, let me know and I'll remove it.  I'm doing this blog out of admiration for the Outlaws as a team and the players individually.  I never intentionally post anything that might reflect badly on or might embarrass anyone.  If I error, if there's a photo or article that doesn't support the team, let me know and I'll delete it.

I believe her name is Ashley.  In the photo above she's done enough reps that she begins to feel the strain, begins to have to exert a little extra effort.  In the photo to the right, she is nearing her max - and refusing to quit.  She is straining with every bit of will and strength she has to get one more rep. I love the effort.   

I don't know this Outlaw's name.  She is just starting in the photo to the left.  I suspect she has lifted weights before.  Her facial expression suggests she's focused on the bar, managing her breathing.  In the photo below, she has been pumping the iron awhile and is nearing her max.  As with Ashley she is summoning all her strength and will, refusing to quit until she records one more rep.

This is Ski.  If  you've visited this blog or Outlaw games, you've heard of her.  After the rest of the Outlaw candidates completed their bench press test, Ski decided to try to improve on her last effort.  I have intentionally not reported the number of reps various players achieved in this test.  I'm more interested in the effort - and I'm confident future numbers will be higher.  However I can say the norm was well below 100.  Most below 50.  Try it sometime - benching 40 pounds many times is a bear.
Ski did 141.  Setting a new record.  The old record was 121.  Held by Ski.

She is called grandma because she is a grandma.  There is no one I admire more than Ski.  She works hard, harder than anyone I know.  She plays over pain. Plagued with injuries over the years she kept on trucking.  And wow is she strong!

Something else about the Outlaws in general and Ski in particular.  They support each other.  Ski started benching for a personal record after other players had finished and gone on to other business.  When they noticed what she was doing they gathered round, shouting words of encouragement, cheering each additional rep.  In the photo at the right, they're celebrating Ski's amazing record.
The Outlaws is a team of talented individuals striving to accomplish personal bests.  And the Outlaws is a "team" in the way they encourage and support each other.  I've cropped my bench press photos to give you the facial expression of the one doing the drill.  What you can't see is her teammates surrounding the bench and cheering every additional rep, calling out "you can do it.  Go girl." 

In the book, The Three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis lived by the motto:  "All for one, one for all."  The Outlaws remind me of that credo.

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