Q&A With ISU's Pete Link

We pick the brain of Iowa State's strength and conditioning coordinator for women's hoops on offseason routes, yoga, amino acids, the Sukup facility and Tenisha Matlock's transition

No. 20 Iowa State takes on Oklahoma tonight at Hilton Coliseum (FS1, 6 p.m.) in hopes of snapping its three-game losing streak.

In lieu of a game preview, we did a Q&A with women's strength and conditioning coordinator Pete Link, who's in his second year on the job, having previously served as S&C director for ISU's Olympic sports.

Link is a native of Farley, Iowa and earned his bachelor of science in health and human performance from Iowa State in 2007.

AllCyclones: This year the team has more of an emphasis on pressing and pushing tempo, which is contrast to the prior year's philosophy. How did coach Fennelly plan change the way your offseason routines went?

Link: "We are a lot smaller this year, and a lot quicker than last season so we spent time working on cardio to get them geared toward a faster paced game."

Q: How does the conditioning routine differ during the off-season?

Link: "It really depends on what time during the off-season that drives our routine. We have a post-season summer, which is a big developmental time for our team because they don't have a lot of other stuff going on like classes and games. And then the summer leads into our pre-season schedule.

"Post-season we are working more with recovery. After a long season we try and get them rested, but also ready to go for the summer workouts. We will do some cardio and strength work during this time must mostly recovery such as foam rolling and stretching. In the summer we work a lot of strength, speed and explosive power with jump simulated exercises. We don't do as much cardio during the summer, but we do have to keep a certain level so that when we get to pre-season workouts they are in shape. And in that phase, cardio is our main focus so they are ready for practice in late summer/fall time period. Everything is a scale, when one thing goes up; something else has to give during that time period. So sometimes we may go strength heavy but loosen the cardio, then next boost the cardio and decrease the strength exercises."

Q: How does the routine change then as you transition into the season?

"During the season we go by minutes. So during the season if you get 20 minutes or more in a game, you won't be doing anything extra with me as far as cardio goes. If you are getting 20 minutes in the game, odds are you are getting a lot of reps in practice as well. Those that don't get 20 minutes, we will do some extra conditioning stuff during the week. If we are working with a developmental player who say isn't ready to get a lot of quality minutes during the game, then we do a little extra work in the weight room, a little extra time in conditioning drills to get them ready for the future.

"When on the road it's the same thing. If a player isn't getting a lot of minutes on the court during the game, we will do some extra stuff on the road with them as well. After each game I watch the tape and log the reps of how many times our players go up and down the court."

Q: How often are the players in the facility during the summer months for strength & conditioning work?

Link: "During the summer and the first four weeks we will go four days a week. The second four weeks we will train 5 days a week."

Q: The staff just signed 5 freshmen for next season, at what point do you communicate with them about conditioning to make sure they are in physical shape when they arrive on campus?

Link: "After their season is over with, typically the end of February or March – I will send them a workout plan. I don't send anything before because their coaches have their own routine and we don't want to mess with that, but after the season I will send them a plan and they know if they have any questions they can contact me. Hopefully they are in some sort of shape when they get here in the summer months."

Q: Prior to this you were in charge of the Olympic sports. How has the role changed?

Link: "You can certainly be more individualized in this role and give the athletes a lot more attention. When we do workouts I bring them in smaller groups, whereas if you have 5 teams you can't concentrate in smaller groups. It's almost impossible with the number of players, class schedules, etc. Right now we have 13 girls, and I can bring them in anywhere between four to six in a group and give them a lot more individual attention."

Q: You worked with Tenisha Matlock from her days as a volleyball player as one of those five sports you covered. How has her transition been?

Link: "I've worked with Tenisah for two and a half years, so she knows my coaching style and we are trying to get here into basketball shape right now. She wants to get better and she will get there through time. With basketball you need moreendurance, because with volleyball you go eight seconds hard and then get a break. With basketball you are going four minutes at a time. She's not far off from getting into the proper conditioning levels for basketball shape. She's in good shape and she will get there."

Q: Are all conditioning and strength exercises completed in the Sukup facility?

Link: "During pre-season we will go use the indoor track at the Lied building on campus. Other than that, everything is right here in the Sukup building. Our weight room is downstairs, and we have the court right here. This facility is nice because before this building was constructed we worked out at the Lied building and now you don't have to worry about another team in the weight room at the same time, and you can schedule the workouts easier by not having to be restricted due to another team working out at the same time."

Q: Do you do anything with the players diet, tracking food intake, good verses bad carbs, etc.?

Link: "I don't do much with dieting as far as tracking intake, I put that on them. We certainly give them tips and reminders and will routinely track their progress by performing weigh-ins and Bod Pod testing a couple times a year. I can't be with them 24 hours a day, so a lot of the dieting is on them. I will say that we do try to give them some sort of pasta or carbohydrates before the game to give them energy on the court."

Q: What are your restrictions in regards to providing the athletes with any amino acids?

Link "The NCAA doesn't allow us to provide any amino acids. We can give them a decent amount of stuff, but as far as supplement stuff and not food consists of a recovery shake. There are even restrictions on that as well. The total percentage of calories from protein can only be 30-percent of the total serving. Downstairs in our team lounge we have a fridge full of Muscle Milk shakes as well as fruits, trail mix and bagels. Foods high in carbohydrates."

Q: It was publicized that the men's team participated in hot yoga classes this summer. Is that something the women's team has entertained as well?

Link: "Our team did the hot yoga two summers ago, not last summer. This year it didn't work out with our class schedule and trying to get everyone out there in one class. I liked it and felt it was good for the team. It provides good flexibility exercise, stretching, and balance. It helps in concentrating on your breathing and focus through relaxation. I thought it was good and something we will certainly revisit again this off-season."

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