Recovery Time

With the quick turnarounds between games in tournament play, rest and recovery for the participating athletes is vital. WVU Athletics Training Coordinator Randy Meador is in charge of that aspect of competition for the Mountaineer basketball team, and he has a proven array of procedures to help WVU's players recover and perform at peak efficiency.

Meador oversees the athletic training staff and has the Mountaineer basketball team as his primary focus. He is now in his 25th season as West Virginia's basketball trainer, and during that time has seen just about everything there is to see in terms of treatments and procedures. Despite all of the advancements in his field, however, there are some tried-and-true basics that are the focus of the recovery process. The twin protocols of whirlpools and stretching are the building blocks upon which Meador and his staff help build the foundation of solid Mountaineer performances. In the postseason, with games coming in quick succession, that work is emphasized even more.

"We use a cold whirlpool more, and try to stretch a bit more," Meador said of the changes to the training routine that takes place in the hectic postseason. We got through New York with three games in three days, and in the NCAAs at least you have a day off, although we practice on that day."

With top-flight training facilities at the WVU Coliseum, Meador is able to get players through the recovery process very efficiently. On the road, however, at times it can be a challenge. That was the case in New York for the Big East tournament.

"Up at New York, it was tough because the hotel we stayed at, while it was a great location and had great food, had no hot tubs or whirlpools or anything like that. So, we filled their bathtubs with ice. That was kind of a unique situation, but it worked out fine, obviously."

The "working out" part was, of course a Big East championship, and West Virginia's superior conditioning certainly had something to do with it. Meador also credits the diligence of the players in doing what they needed to do in order to be ready to play.

"The guys were real good about taking ice baths to help keep their legs fresh, and then we went over to the Knicks athletic training room, and we were able to do a lot of stretching," Meador noted. "We have better facilities at our hotel here (in Buffalo) and we have athletic training facilities here we can use. We'll also go to a college that offers everything we need. At the NCAA, they provide us with all the facilities."

Meador faced a bit of an adjustment when Bob Huggins came on board, as the intense head coach demands a great deal from his players. However, after getting used to the routine, Meador believes that it's now a routine for the squad.

"Originally, under Huggins, it was a little tougher (to recover) because every player had to get used to it," he explained. "We had a lot of whirlpools going and a lot of stretching going on. But as they have gotten used to it, and as the strength coaches brought them along and got them used to it, it's only the new guys that have to adjust to it. There were some longer hours, but it was just a different philosophy that we had to get used to."

The counterpart to athletic training is strength and conditioning, and there is clearly a synergy in the way the twin disciplines combine to prepare players for the rigors of tournament play. The strength staff, headed by Andy Kettler, works up front to strengthen and prepare the team, while Meador focuses on recovery and injury treatment. With those two programs working together, West Virginia can put a team on the court that is as physically prepared as possible to compete.

"The emphasis on lifting and conditioning, and what Andy does to prepare these guys for practices and the season is different than what was done four years ago," Meador noted. "So, these guys are able to take more during the season. It's just a different philosophy, but because of what they do in the fall they are more prepared for the season.

I think it's an advantage for us, because there's no one that works harder than we do, and that might be why we win games at the end. I think the players are getting better at understanding what they need to do to keep their bodies in shape. It's a lot of work, but the rewards are awesome."

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