Toughness Test Pays Off

March 9, 2015

The University of Nebraska women's basketball team has rallied from several double-digit deficits to win games this season, and the players credit the Husker Toughness Test.

According to the, the conditioning test was started by Head Coach Connie Yori 10 years ago and includes a series of timed sprints. Players run down and back the basketball court almost three times, and, depending on their position, do so in less than 38, 37, or 36 seconds. They are allowed a 90 second rest and then they are on the starting line again. After the first six sprints, the rest time increases to three minutes. Nebraska women's basketball strength coach Rusty Ruffcorn calls that halftime. They run a total of 12 times.

 “When it comes to No. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, you got to really fight through it,” Yori said. “Our kids don’t like it, but I know that they know it gets them ready. It’s not easy, but it’s reasonable.”

When Ruffcorn took the strength coach position nine years ago, he told Yori that he would have the players ready for the test. He begins working toward that goal in July.

“There has got to be a partnership between a strength coach and a coach,” Ruffcorn said. “We have to sit down and talk every offseason. I've got to know how she wants to drive the car, so I know how to build the car. I've also got to be able to say, ‘This car can’t do this, and this car can do this, and let’s make sure we do this and this with these.’ We always go back and forth, and through the years, I think that’s helped us a lot. The last few years, our Februarys were really good.”

Of course, there’s more to the Huskers' conditioning plan than sprinting. Ruffcorn focuses on lateral movements and in-season strength training sessions two or three times a week.

 “They’re tougher than nails,” Ruffcorn said. “They’ve been able to do things that are damn impressive. They show it on the court. We have a saying that you have to go every possession like an absolute savage, and that’s how I’m going to train you to play. It doesn’t matter about records and weights and runs and all that, it comes down to when your number's called and you go in, every possession you play has to be like an absolute savage. That’s what we’re trying to do.”


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