The secret of Caitlin Clark’s shooting power

The University of Iowa basketball star has made one “logo” shot after another. His coach and other fitness experts say it’s all in the physical and mental training.

The secret of Caitlin Clark’s

When University of Iowa point guard Kaitlin Clark, 22, lines up against her University of Connecticut team on Friday night, she’ll likely shoot the ball from well beyond the 3-point line. Then, against all odds and against all coaching philosophies, he is likely to do it again and again. Anyone unlucky enough to try to protect him can do nothing but shrug his shoulders.

Beyond generational talent, how does she do it? She trains aggressively and for endurance. His muscles must be able to withstand quick bursts of speed and agility and he must have the power necessary to propel him skyward on his signature Logos, or close to half-court, shots. They also need to be strong enough to maintain those quick motions during high-stress play without becoming too fatigued to function. And he needs the mental flexibility to maintain that level of play without losing confidence or focus when things aren’t going smoothly.

Many of those skills have been built in the gym with Lindsay Alexander, associate strength and conditioning coach for the Iowa women’s basketball team. Ms. Alexander is focused on a single question: “How can we become a more sustainable athlete?”

The answer is a combination of conditioning, aerobic work, and plyometrics, a group of exercises that use rapid movements to build muscle strength. Players perform squats and deadlifts, and use bench presses to improve their upper body and core strength. Ms. Alexander focuses specifically on strengthening players’ legs, which are especially important for shooting.

SEE ALSO : Paige Bueckers’ Family: Everything About the UConn Star’s Parents and Siblings

She also works with Ms. Clark and other players to increase their cardiovascular health by doing exercises known as interval or tempo runs: players run at a hard pace and then take short breaks to recover. Over time, this type of training makes it easier for their bodies to recover quickly from high-intensity activity.

  • Caitlin Clark’s range
  • The Iowa guard, whose long-range shots have caused a stir online, is one of the most spectacular players in college basketball.
  • When a star comes to town: Caitlin Clark’s presence brings a huge surge in attendance on the road, sometimes drawing twice as many fans as the next best-ranked game.
  • Endless range, limitless swagger: His fierce competitiveness, no-look passes and 3-point bomb have made basketball must-sees at Iowa. What will happen when she leaves?
  • Kaitlyn Clark is everywhere: Last year, we tracked Clark’s well-balanced attack during Iowa’s win over Colorado, when she scored just 31, including long 3-pointers, layups and jumpers from across the floor.
  • The Money Shot: Clark perfects his form in his driveway. But when she drops that form, she can still hit game-winners from almost halfcourt.
  • Her own (faster) pace: Clark says the game slows down for her, and it shows: She leads Division I women’s basketball in points and assists.

“You have to practice how you play,” Ms. Alexander said. “We practice fast-paced, tough basketball, so that’s how I look at the weight room and conditioning piece. “I use that space to prepare them for practice, so they can be able to do it over and over again.”

Last summer, a clip of Ms. Clark training in the off-season went viral. His regimen consisted of 300 shots: one hundred three-pointers, one hundred free throws and one hundred from midrange. Ms Alexander remembered watching the footage and texting Ms Clark: “I don’t think you were running fast enough.”

In an interview with ESPN, Clark said that she entered college with a body long and lean, like “a little twig”.

“The strength and conditioning program was a big help to me,” he said. He said his body “started to come into its own” during his sophomore year, and his leg strength has helped him make those 3-pointers.

In training, Ms. Alexander focuses on the explosive fast-twitch muscle fibers that players use repeatedly for running and jumping. When those muscles are used for long periods of time, such as during a competitive basketball game, lactic acid can begin to build up, causing the muscles to fatigue. Strengthening muscles through different types of squats in the gym can help players maintain that speed for a longer period of time.

Improving recovery times is also essential, Ms. Alexander said. When timeouts are called or there are breaks between quarters, players need to be able to get back to their base-line heart rate – calming their respiratory and nervous systems and flushing lactic acid out of their legs. – Get on the court again sooner than you are able to and play at your highest level.


In training, Ms. Alexander also regularly measures how players are jumping and putting their weight on their legs, using the force plate test, which involves a machine that tests leg strength and fatigue. . She can customize individual training programs based on that data – for example, working with coaches on leg-strengthening exercises if it’s clear players are tiring too quickly from shooting.

The combination of those training elements is important for a player like Ms. Clark, said Toby Edwards, an exercise scientist who works with the Australian cycling team and who co-authored a 2018 study on fatigue and basketball. The study found that by monitoring and tracking both workload and fatigue, coaches can better determine workloads that get the most out of training and minimize fatigue, allowing athletes to perform at a higher level. Is.

All these efforts also help in increasing the confidence and mental flexibility of the players. They know their bodies are adapted to the physicality of high-level play because they’ve hit those levels of exhaustion in practice, Ms. Alexander said: “Our practices are much more difficult than our games.”

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