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Ladder drills help Greivis Vasquez become more agile

For the past two seasons, part of Greivis Vasquez's pregame routine has included running through a set of ladder drills overseen by Maryland strength and conditioning coach Paul Ricci.

At some point while the Terrapins are taking their warmup shots, Ricci will take out a thin black rubber ladder and lay it out across a stretch of the baseline or sideline. And then Vasquez gets to work, moving from one end of the ladder to the other, feet tapping rapidly against the court all the while. His feet dance in and out of the holes, sometimes together, other times apart. And when he gets to the end of the ladder, Vasquez does the same drill again going backwards.

"Basically, 80 percent of your day is run on your subconscious, so, not to get too deep, but if he gets the pattern down and keeps practicing going backwards as well as forward, it gives him the confidence to know he can do it in a game," Ricci said. "It's as much of a mental as a physical thing. Just like shooting foul shots. He gets used to the pattern, and so we just keep doing it. He feels like he's getting quicker with the more practice, and that's why you do things."

After being named ACC player of the year on Tuesday, Vasquez spoke about the detractors he's had during his four years in College Park. Some of the criticism, he said, has been that he's not very athletic.

"I can barely dunk," he said.

As the folks at Clemson can attest, he's certainly better able to dunk now than he used to be.

Ricci said that Vasquez's agility has improved over the past two seasons, and that's no doubt at least in part due to exercises such as the pregame ladder drills Ricci got Vasquez hooked on.

"That's one of the reasons why he can dunk more is his confidence," Ricci said. "He could do it before, but he's gotten a lot better at moving backwards, whereas most basketball players, most athletes these days, get used to going forwards."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 11, 2010; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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