Coach Wooden, Ducky Drake, and Water
Elvin C. (Ducky) Drake was the first track and field coach at UCLA and the athletic trainer when I attended UCLA. Ask any athletic trainer today, and he or she has heard of him and uses some of his methods. For example, his process for rehabilitating a sprained ankle is still used today. It includes “ice cup massage” (a little painful), resistance exercises to strengthen the muscles and tendons (painful), and swelling removal via talcum powder massage (extremely painful).
Coach Wooden put Ducky in charge of our pre-game meal diet and water intake during games. The pre-game diet consisted of a 16 oz NY steak, baked potato with one TBS butter, peas, Melba toast, mixed fruit cup, water, and hot tea. That was it and that’s what we had 4 ½ hours before game time, every game.
You ask, “Weren’t you hungry at game time?” You bet ya we were hungry; we were starving. And we won 10 out of 12 championships, 38 consecutive playoff games, and 88 games in a row, famished.
Four times a practice, we were allowed to go to the drinking fountain and take three sips of water. (I saw Walton taking four once and was tempted to tell on him so, hopefully, Coach would bench Bill and put me in the game. But I decided against that.) One sip is about one ounce of water so in a practice, we drank twelve ounces of water, or just about the equivalent of a small bottle of Kirkland Signature water.
Just through respiration, sweat, and excretion, the average human loses 2.5 liters of water per day. 12 ounces of water for a two and one-half hour practice doesn’t seem like enough to replenish what we lose. And if you think that’s strange, during basketball games, we were given one ounce of salted water during each time out. Coach never called a time out when I was there so that doesn’t add up to much water. Did we get cramps? Never. Did that hurt our performance? Apparently not. Like I said, we won the games, so who could argue against what Ducky was doing?
Ducky Drake and Coach Wooden believed:
- Anything in your stomach draws blood to the stomach. Blood at the stomach means less blood in your muscles.
- Drinks should be spaced out. Bloating slows you down.
- Hydrating before a game and after a game, with little water during the game, doesn’t hurt the body. The body can handle it.
But today many “experts” will argue with that. They say, during a game, the body must take in as much liquids as it expels. And they add, we must replenish the electrolytes also. Perhaps the human body has evolved (or devolved) in 40 years to where it now needs more than it used to. Just saying.