Longtime teammates Marissa Coleman and Crystal Langhorne continue to do conditioning drills together on their college turf, working with Kyle Tarp, a certified strength and conditioning specialist with Maryland’s women’s basketball team, in between Mystics practices in nearby Washington, D.C. Tarp developed a nine-part workout designed to strengthen muscles while getting your reflexes game-ready. Unlike traditional weight-room moves, each of these exercises builds strength for specific movement patterns you’ll use on the court — or field, diamond, course or pool — so you get stronger, faster and more nimble than your competitors. Follow along with Coleman and Langhorne in exercises four through six:
4. Medicine Ball Reverse Pivots
Get into a low athletic stance with your knees bent and your hips back (like a squat), holding a medicine ball near your right shoulder. Maintaining the same height throughout the move with your chest up and hips low, step back and rapidly reverse pivot, turning to face the opposite direction and bringing the ball overhead to your left shoulder. Reverse to start, sitting back into your hips with each pivot, similar to squatting. Do five reps, then switch your pivot foot and repeat. Do three sets on each side. For a variation, change the ball movement, taking it from shoulder to hip or shoulder to shin like you’d do to avoid a defender’s hands. (If you’re training with a teammate, take turns defending each other. If her hands are low, take the ball high as you pivot away from her. If she goes high, take the ball to your shin like you’re driving to the basket.)
5. Medicine Ball Jabs
Start in a low athletic stance with your knees bent and your hips reaching back, holding a weighted medicine ball near your left shoulder. Take an explosive step forward, staying low and bringing the ball to your shin as though you’re about to go by a defender to the basket. (If you are working with a teammate, take turns being the defender and cue your partner to attack your up leg. The offensive player should attempt to get her shoulder level to the hip of the defender.) Pause momentarily, then explode back to starting position, bringing the ball up to your shooting shoulder to prepare for a shot. Do five reps, then switch sides and repeat for a total of three sets on each side.
6. Medicine Ball Wall Throws
Holding a medicine ball (preferably one with soft sides like Dynamax, or one that’s semi-flat to minimize bounce), get into a low athletic stance with your right side facing a wall that won’t be damaged by throwing the ball against it. Step away from the wall with your left foot, and bend your left knee to lower into a side lunge, simultaneously rotating from the torso to bring the medicine ball to your left hip. Come back to center, throwing the ball explosively across your body into the wall, and catch it on the bounce. Maintain your low athletic position and do not deviate from your initial stance height. Do five reps, then turn around and do the move on the other side. Repeat for three sets on each side.