Relying heavily on one’s strategic and tactical prowess, chess is a sport that gives importance to the technical capabilities of its players. Thus, the usual training of a chess player focuses on learning maneuvers and techniques for various situations and applying them during the match.
This has been the practice of the DLSU Green and Lady Woodpushers for a long time. However, in preparation for the next UAAP season, changes will be made to the school’s chess team’s program.
In the recently concluded UAAP season 77, the Green Woodpushers succeeded in grabbing first place after a 10-year championship drought. In addition to their most-awaited victory, they were also fortunate to have Green Woodpusher Jerad Docena named as the Rookie of the Year and MVP. Meanwhile, the Lady Woodpushers dropped to second place after two hard-fought rounds, preventing them from getting the five-peat championship they were yearning for.
Although he was pleased with the results, the DLSU Woodpushers coach Randy Segarra wants to see more improvement in the team.
“Last year, the preparations of the team were more on the technical part. Ngayon, may mga physical exercises kaming isasama,” he shares, adding that it would help the players enhance their thinking skills.
Physical exercise has been known to have a positive effect on the brain activity, thus allowing the mind to stay sharp. Oxygen, an important factor for the brain’s growth and healing, gets pumped into the brain faster as the heart rate increases when exercising. A full-blown exercise isn’t needed in order to attain this. Even with just 20 minutes of exercise, memory retention and information processing would improve.
Furthermore, running is an excellent way to relieve stress. “We’re looking to make the players do some sprints after making a move,” Segarra says. “It will give them a boost and may also help them relieve stress when they are in a pinch.”
UAAP chess matches can last for as long as four to five hours so breaks are allowed in the duration of the games and most of the time, breaks are times when players try to refresh themselves. But sometimes, having to go on breaks may hinder the thought process of the player.
To address this problem, Segarra has prepared a training regimen that would help the team build their endurance and stamina. “Our aim is for the players to have the endurance to last for longer periods of time. Training them physically will help [us] achieve that goal,” Segarra states.
One of the exercises he included in the regimen is jogging from the first floor to the ninth floor of the Enrique Razon Sports Complex. “They might also need to take yoga classes at the second floor [of Razon],” he adds.
The upgrade isn’t only limited to just running. They are also planning on using weights during training. Instead of the regular chess pieces, two-pound chess pieces will be used for their training. “We already found a manufacturer for the modified pieces,” Segarra excitedly says.
According to him, the purpose of the weights is to further develop the players’ finger muscles, making their motions faster and stronger. “Having swift and precise movements will intimidate their opponents,” he explains.
One of the players, who did not want to be named, voiced out his opinion regarding the new chess pieces. “Mukhang masaya. Although maninibago nga lang kami sa start. Pero, okay lang. Excited na ako.”
Since the next UAAP season will be rescheduled to match the academic calendar shift of the University, the competing teams will also be given more time to prepare for their respective matches.
“Tamang-tama. We have more time to condition the players and, hopefully, when the [next] season comes, the players are fully conditioned to play [with the new program].”
Besides having more time to condition their bodies, the shifting of the UAAP season will provide more opportunities for both the Green and Lady Woodpushers to join more offseason tournaments where they would gain experience and check the progress they made overtime.
After the decisive move to remodel their program, both teams hope to get the best results that will carry over to UAAP season 78. With sharp, precise moves they look to not only improve as a team, but also to win both championships next season.