Cardiovascular Training for Dodgeball
One of the toughest parts of being an effective dodgeball player is the cardiovascular demands of the sport. Everyone who plays has felt that stomach-churning, lung-busting, copper-tasting effort level.
Over the course of a tournament, multiple games, back-to-backs, not to mention gruelling one-on-one face offs, you wear down. The cardiovascular demands are intense - you need huge amounts of energy for movement, with throwing and dodging mixed in
Have you felt like you needed a new set of lungs, or had your effort level drop to nearly koala levels over the course of a tournament? We can help.
Training your ability to put out lots of energy, and recover as much of that as possible during breaks can make you a much more effective player. Exercisingoutside of dodgeball games and tournaments can be a great way to build up your game, and contribute more when it matters most.
There are two types of demands you’ll have to work on to develop maximum effectiveness on the court: work and recovery. These will require two different training approaches, so we’ll dive into both separately.
To work harder in-game, high intensity interval training (HIIT) will focus on your ability to put out more effort in less time. Being able to push your body further into those uncomfortable areas of effort consistently will build up a tolerance and a more robust energy output
Your recovery (called long slow distance, or LSD) training will allow you to recycle energy faster. Between rounds in a game, and between games, getting your wind and focus back relies on your body’s ability to process oxygen into energy and clear exercise byproducts from your body. There are several energy processing systems in your body, and a couple of them work so fast, that there’s no time to use oxygen (called anaerobic, meaning without oxygen...if you wanted to know) to provide energy. These anaerobic energy systems dump lactate particles into your muscles as a result and stop you from working hard over time.
Now, LSD training is aerobic, meaning that oxygen is used for energy. So how does this help with anaerobic energy processing? Great question, reader. Here’s the answer: increasing your ability to train with oxygen adapts you to use it faster. Your lungs become more efficient at processing it, there are more blood cells to carry oxygen, and your body builds more small blood vessels inside the muscles to allow better transfer of the increased oxygenated blood cells. Handy.
Training the body’s ability to do this more efficiently will give consistency to your game after longer rounds, games and tournaments, leaving your opponents gasping on the floor while you waltz off the court, shouting “next”.
We’ll dive into these ways of exercising in the next few paragraphs, with an overview of what the focus for training will be, as well as a sample program to follow. If these are things you are doing already, excellent! If not, I’m including progressions to make sure you aren’t over taxing yourself, and getting injured. Getting started and staying consistent are the keys to improvement. So don’t sweat it if your progression looks different than what I put down here. Everyone is different, go at your own pace.
This modality involves periods of high intensity work, with periods of full or partial recovery (sound familiar?). This can be stuff like; running around a track, team sports, hill running, or even chasing the ice cream truck. It’ll help improve your game by building an ability to continually work harder, and recover from that effort. It’s efficient, and can be done in hundreds, if not thousands of ways, but is tougher than other types. The efforts in dodgeball are short, but incredibly intense. It’s too fast for the body to efficiently process enough energy (anaerobic, remember?) using oxygen. Byproducts of energy production build up, stopping you from moving quickly. Working at these high levels produces huge changes in the body, teaching it to be more efficient and recover more quickly in between bouts. Training in this style will actually help your recovery as well.
You will get better, because you’re forcing the body to change. Now, jumping into training at the intensity level of a match can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to intervals. Building up towards higher intensity intervals, with a progressive regimen will be the best way to build up your effort level, without overtaxing or even injuring yourself. Here’s a sample way to get started. I’m using an exercise bike here. It’s simple to use, and easily accessed by most people. If you have a preferred cardio modality (running, swimming, etc.) feel free to use that.
Next, is the recovery portion. Training in a style called long slow distance (LSD) will produce some different changes in the body than HIIT. It promotes more efficient oxygen use, and grows more of the smaller blood vessels called capillaries to help transport oxygen to where it is needed most. Oxygen helps produce energy, and the extra blood flow will help clear out exercise byproducts more quickly.
Building up your cardiovascular recovery will be a big factor in game, but much more in between games. The space between rounds, and even games sometimes (back to backs aren’t fun) can be brutally short. If being competitive at a consistent high level is what you want, then having as much energy recovered as possible will be the best way to do that. LSD training can be even simpler than HIIT. Jogging, light swimming even walking can build up this system. Continually improving by building up either intensity, distance, and time can all have the desired effect. Here’s a quick sample progression done on the exercise bike, but don’t feel the need to stay indoors. Bike outside, run outside, swim or walk. I prefer jogging outside, or hiking when the weather decides to cooperate.
Adding these extra exercise sessions to a busy schedule that includes dodgeball games already can be a challenge. I would suggest adding one of each modality to your workout regimen per week. Building up your effort level and recovery levels will do wonders for your competitive game. If that’s not possible, one extra session per week can help, the progressions will take a bit longer.
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