High-SchoolGirl: Marissa Coleman

Old School: WNBA stars Marissa Coleman and Crystal Langhorne working overtime

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
8:23
AM ET
Inside TrainingDustin SnipesMarissa Coleman (left) and Crystal Langhorne return frequently to their home court -- Maryland's Comcast Center -- for camaraderie and conditioning.
Watch video of their workout: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

A team that works (and plays) together wins together. It’s a truism that can apply in all team sports, but especially on the basketball court, says Crystal “Lang” Langhorne, a 25-year-old center for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.

“I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to have the most talented team to win,” agrees Mystics forward Marissa “Riss” Coleman. “It comes down to chemistry on the court.”

For Crystal and Marissa, who were also college teammates at the University of Maryland, there’s no better example of the magic a team can produce than their come-from-behind victory in the 2006 NCAA championship game.

“We had a really close team and we really believed in each other,” Crystal recalls.

But to give a team your best, both players also understand that scheduled practices will only take you so far and that solo training — after-hours work on your personal weaknesses — is what it takes to better your game.

Crystal, who made her mark in the record books as the first Maryland player to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds, learned this lesson in high school from her coach’s father, “Mr. Fowler.” A basketball coach himself, Mr. Fowler came to many of her team’s practices and would help her individually with footwork drills.

“It’s easy to work on what you’re good at, but I’ve found it’s working on your weaknesses that makes you a stronger player,” says Crystal, a lefty who now forces herself to focus on her non-dominant side.

For Marissa, learning to emphasize quality, rather than quantity, was key to improving her skills.

“I used to think that if I went to the gym and shot 1,000 times that it was the best approach, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve taken the less-is-more approach,” says the 24-year-old, who is the only University of Maryland player to record a triple-double. “If I shoot fewer shots and they’re perfect shots I’m going to get more out of it.”

Inside Training: Workout Part 1

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
8:20
AM ET
video Meet Marissa and Crystal | Workout Part 2 | Workout Part 3 | More Inside Training videos

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 the first three exercises:

1. Ankle Balance Reach Matrix
Inside Training 1Dustin SnipesMarissa Coleman demonstrates three parts of the Ankle Balance Reach Matrix.

Stand on your right foot and, bending your standing knee slightly, extend your left leg to the front, reaching your foot to almost — but not quite — touch the floor. Come back to the start, then reach your leg out at a diagonal forward and to the left. Come back to center, then reach your leg straight out to the side. Return to center, then turn your toes out as you reach the left foot straight back in a drop step. Repeat the four reaches for three complete cycles, then switch feet.

2. Lunge Matrix
Inside Training 2Dustin SnipesCrystal Langhorne demonstrates three steps in the lunge matrix.

Starting with your feet hip-width apart, step forward with your right foot and bend both knees to lower into a lunge, keeping your chest up and your front knee over your front ankle. Step back to start, then lunge forward on a diagonal, stepping out at a 45-degree angle with your right foot. Bend your knees to lower into a lunge, then step back to stand. Step straight out to the side and bend your right knee to lower into a lateral lunge (left leg stays straight), keeping your heels grounded. Step back to the start and finish the sequence with a drop-step lunge, pivoting on your left foot to face the other direction. Repeat the sequence on your right, then do both sides again for a total of eight lunges on each side.

3. Ball Hip Mobility
Inside Training 3Dustin SnipesMarissa Coleman does the Ball Hip Mobility drill.

Stand with your feet wide, a medicine ball or basketball in front of your right foot. Bend your knees, sitting back into a squat, then shift your weight to the right, bending your right knee and straightening your left leg. Sinking low enough to touch the ball with your fingertips, hold for three seconds, then roll the ball to the left while simultaneously shifting your weight through the center and into a side squat on the left side with your left knee bent and right knee straight. Keep your hips low and your chest lifted throughout the move as you shift from side to side, pausing for three seconds at each foot. Do two sets of three lunges on each side. For a variation (top), roll the ball in a figure eight around your feet as you shift from side to side.

Inside Training: Workout Part 2

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
8:16
AM ET
video Meet Marissa and Crystal | Workout Part 1 | Workout Part 3 | More Inside Training videos

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
Inside Training 4Dustin SnipesCrystal Langhorne takes her turn at the 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
Inside Training 5Dustin SnipesMarissa Coleman shows the different positions in the Medicine Ball Jabs series.
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
Inside Training 6Dustin SnipesMarissa Coleman prepares to throw the medicine ball against the wall.
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.

Inside Training: Workout Part 3

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
8:11
AM ET
video Meet Marissa and Crystal | Workout Part 1 | Workout Part 2 | More Inside Training videos

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 the final three exercises:

7. Rainbow Medicine Ball Slams
Inside Training 7Dustin SnipesCrystal Langhorne demonstrates Rainbow Medicine Ball Slams.
Start with your feet wide, holding a weighted medicine ball in both hands. Reach the ball overhead, then pivot to the right and bend your knees to get low (as though you’re lunging), slamming the ball into the ground to your right and catching it low. Keep your chest high and bend into your hips and knees, not your lower back. (Again, a semi-flat medicine ball, or one with a padded grip, will be less bouncy. But use caution with this move.) As soon as you catch the ball, reverse the movement, reaching the ball overhead and slamming it on the other side. Do three sets of five slams to each side.

8. Single-Leg Deadlift Matrix
Inside Training 8Dustin SnipesMarissa Coleman shows off her balance while performing the Single-Leg Deadlift Matrix.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a medicine ball with both hands. Lifting your right foot to balance on the left, engage your abs as you hinge forward from your hip, simultaneously reaching the ball toward your standing foot and extending your right leg straight back to hip level (or as close as you can come without arching your back). Return to standing, then repeat, reaching the ball toward the outside — then the inside — of your standing foot. Return to start position after each rep. Do three cycles (nine total reaches), then switch feet and repeat, balancing on your right foot. Do three sets on each side.

9. Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat
Inside Training 9Dustin SnipesCrystal Langhorne performs the Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squat.
Stand in front of a box or block holding a weighted medicine ball at chest height with your elbows bent out to the sides. (The seat of a couch or sturdy chair, or a set of steps will also work.) Lift your right foot behind you and place it, laces-down, on the top of the box. Bend your standing knee to lower up to 90 degrees, then press into your left heel to stand. If your knee is passing your toes or your heel lifts when you lower, slide your standing foot forward to give yourself room. Do eight to 10 reps, then switch legs and repeat.

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