You're on the free throw line, down one point with three seconds left. Besides being mentally and physically fatigued, you feel the pressure of fans, coaches and teammates depending on you to make the shots.
According to Shaun McPherson, strength and conditioning coach at Baylor University, your ability to focus when you're tired determines the outcome of these pressure-packed moments. He says, "We want to make sure that anyone on the team, when in a state of fatigue, can focus, concentrate and execute when her number is called to make the free throw or game-winning shot."
The Bears don't require much in-season conditioning, thanks to the high level they attain through their off season work and the high-tempo practices head coach Kim Mulkey runs. However, when the team is struggling at the line, Mulkey implements a drill that works on both free throws and conditioning at the end of practice. "We are big believers in team accountability," McPherson says. "This drill conditions the athletes while keeping them accountable for making free throws. If they don't make their shots, the entire team has to run extra reps."
Wanna get ready for when your number's called? Gather your team and try the Bears' free throw conditioning drill.
Team Free Throw Conditioning
The Bears line up along the free throw line. A player's name is called out to attempt a free throw. If she makes the shot, another player's name is called out. If she misses, the entire team must turn and sprint to the far baseline, then to the opposite baseline and back to the free throw line in 12 seconds. Then the next player is called out. Once everyone has attempted a free throw, the players who missed their first ones go again. This continues until every player makes a shot.
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