Jan 6, 2017
Three Stages
Kyle Tarp

The University of Maryland men’s basketball program has a championship culture that stems from our history of success and the vision of Head Coach Mark Turgeon. The Basketball Performance Department’s role in that vision is perhaps best exemplified in our offseason training.

We work on basketball speed three times a week during the offseason — Mondays are for lateral training, Wednesdays are for linear, and multidirectional exercises are on Fridays. Each movement category is broken down further into three progressive phases: acquisition, enhancement, and application. We typically spend two to three weeks in each phase per plane of motion, advancing based on athlete proficiency.

Acquisition: In this first phase, our coaching emphasis is ensuring body positions and actions are cued and perfected. Learning is chunked, meaning we teach similar skills at the same time instead of grouping skills randomly. For example, in our progression of lateral movements, the acquisition phase focuses on base defensive stance holds, push-step fundamentals, and crossover step fundamentals.

Enhancement: Individual actions are integrated and more complex in this phase, and the skills developed during acquisition are now challenged through load, velocity, duration, and various tools. While movements are more difficult during this phase, our teaching remains chunked, and proper technique is emphasized. Similar skills are still grouped together, and coaching cues are specific to body position and action. For lateral movements, the enhancement stage includes wide ladder progressions, Keiser-loaded push-steps and crossover steps, and base defensive stance perturbations.

Application: In this final phase, the movement patterns that were acquired and enhanced earlier are now applied to basketball-specific situations. Our cues become less technical, as well. So rather than simply coaching body position and action, we create basketball-specific scenarios that force athletes to execute the skills we are highlighting. In addition, we no longer chunk skills, instead combining markedly different skills in a variable and random system, much like they manifest in a game. We conclude our lateral movement training in this phase by implementing defensive drills and ball screen defensive concepts.

Kyle Tarp, MS, CSCS, is Director of Basketball Performance at the University of Maryland, overseeing all aspects of training for the men's basketball team.

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