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Second—no matter what kind—is usually frowned upon in the athletic community. Second-place finishers never get the glory, and second helpings are usually discouraged at team meals. However, in basketball, a team’s success throughout the season usually hinges on the harder-to-play second half, which often determines whether you win or lose.
Shaun McPherson, women’s basketball strength and conditioning coach at Baylor University, offers a solution to the problem of second-half mental and physical fatigue. “We want athletes to have a very aggressive mindset that never shows signs of fatigue or frustration,” McPherson says. “So we train players to possess a competitive attitude at the highest level regardless of score or outcome.”
To improve mental and physical conditioning, McPherson suggests the following drill, which can be used after practice during the season.
• Line up at baseline
• On whistle blow, run length of court, baseline to baseline, 10 times (down and back five times), touching line with foot or hand
Goal: 70 seconds or less, regardless of position
Sets: 3-6, depending on stage of season
Adaptation: Before set, have coach or teammate determine which foot or hand should touch each baseline. Failure to follow instructions results in redoing set.
Benefits: Increases physical conditioning // Develops mental conditioning by focusing on body part that needs to touch each baseline // Creates accountability in following instructions
Photo: Tony Gutierrez/AP