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Friday, July 19, 2019

Coaches’ Corner: Proper Strength and Conditioning Can “Prehabilitate” ACL Injuries

Article Lead Image

Photo Caption: Washington State University Strength and Conditioning Coach David Lang works hand-in-hand with physical therapist Bob Bashaw to get players into “practice-ready condition.” For basketball players in particular, this includes videotaping athletes through a variety of movements, taking the knee through all ranges of motion rather than just linear motion, and analyzing and correcting their jumping form to “prehabilitate” ACL injuries. This player is roughly eight weeks into the WSU training program.

Photo Credit: Courtesy ProFormance Physical Therapy/Bob Bashaw

By Sue Favor

Strength and conditioning has been an important element of a basketball player’s training program for many years. Now, with the rise in skill level and physical play in the girls’ and women’s game, off-court preparation plays an even more critical role in an athlete’s success.

Full Court Press writer and strength and conditioning coach Sue Favor will canvas strength and conditioning coaches from colleges all over the country, and bring their best tips for success to readers in a bi-weekly column. Today’s column features Washington State University’s David Lang, a designated Master Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Most collegiate strength and conditioning coaches, including Washington State University’s David Lang, use a year-round, periodized program with their athletes that is geared towards peaking them at the end of their seasons. Late August through September is a heavy conditioning time for basketball players, as formal practices have not yet begun, and the emphasis is on pre-preparation.

“We focus on their conditioning, because this is their starting point on the year,” said Lang, who coaches the women’s basketball team. “If some of the young players need a bit of mental focus, intense conditioning will force that.”

Before starting, however, Lang said he checks with all the team’s other coaches to ensure everyone’s practice plans for both individuals and the group align correctly. He does this for several reasons.

“I want to avoid over-training, but each year the team goals also change and the age of the team varies, so the group has different needs,” Lang said. “These variables designate what the team needs for the year.”

Lang said the focus for September is to get the players in “practice-ready condition.” This includes weight training, endurance and speed work, plyometrics and agility work. But it also includes injury prevention—something Lang calls “prehabilitation.”

“We want to work to prevent ACL injuries,” he said. “Working with our physical therapist, we take a video analysis of their jumping technique, and teach corrections if necessary.”

Lang and his staff also use video to help them set individual goals with athletes. They videotape each athlete through a variety of movements, and then analyze what they see to determine where individual strengths and weaknesses are. They also conduct strength testing with players to see which muscle groups might need work. From there, Lang helps athletes to formulate specific goals.

Photo Caption: This image shows the same player featured in our lead photo at the beginning of her training program at WSU. Note the differences from just eight weeks of training from where she started—the imbalance between left and right legs, inwardly pronated rotation of the knees, and awkward posture as she struggles at the beginning of her training to maintain a deep squat—any of which could contribute to ACL injuries when jumping.
Photo Credit: Courtesy ProFormance Physical Therapy/Bob Bashaw

Even with individual goals, there are certain training approaches with basketball players that are standard. Lang has athletes focus on the hip adductors and hip abductors—otherwise known as the inside and outside of the thigh—because of all the lateral movement within the sport. Lang said he and his staff also train players through what he called rotational movement.

“We train by taking the knee through all ranges of motion rather than just a linear one,” he said.

He focuses on movement—especially at the ankle, knee and hip joints—to strengthen those areas and make them more flexible and, hence, reduce the possibility of injury.

“Besides building strength, we also look at the biomechanical movements of training,” Lang said. “For instance, making sure there is proper knee alignment in relation to the hip joint.”

During this time of the year, the women’s basketball team works out with Lang for almost two hours per day, five days per week. When basketball practice begins, that time is cut to 45 minutes twice a week.

A typical workout begins with the athletes rolling their bodies across foam rollers to loosen up the muscles. A session of dynamic movement patterns, such as exaggerated stepping and high-knee work, follows, and after that the group stretches.

Next come balance drills, where the athletes may work on balance by standing, walking or both. Lang said this also helps strengthen the feet—crucial in basketball—and proprioception of the athletes.

Team members work on abdominals next, followed by weight training. Lang said Olympic or platform lifts begin the session, as they are total-body exercises. Multi-joint weight training, such as pull-ups and the chest press, are next, followed by exercises that work single muscle groups.

Training sessions end with a bit more abdominal work, followed by cool-down stretches designed to enhance the elasticity of the muscle.

“Our strength training continues throughout the year, but this is the foundation,” Lang said.

Photo Caption: Washington State athletes enjoy training in the state-of-the-art Cougar Mania Strength and Condition Complex at Bohler Gym under Lang’s supervision.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy WSU/David Lang

Originally published Mon, November 09, 2009

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.