Good luck to any girls basketball team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area trying to take down No. 2-ranked Duncanville (Texas).
The Pantherettes' rich tradition includes 21 state tournament appearances and seven state titles. Last year, the team went 41-1, topping the season with the 5A state championship. The Pantherettes, 34-0, are currently on a 64-game winning streak.
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The team’s success is anything but a fluke. Players help cement consistent wins by adopting a work-hard-when-no-one-is-looking approach. Coach Cathy Self-Morgan says the squad’s foundation is built on strong team chemistry. Players have even been known to ask the school’s custodian to open the gym on a Saturday so they can hone their shooting skills.
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The Pantherettes have also adopted intense training habits, including summer workouts with the football team, weekly yoga and ice baths. Self-Morgan explains why it all helps.
What did the team’s pre-season training include?
Self-Morgan: Three days a week during the summer, we worked out with the football team, which was really cool. The athletes get pushed and challenged with those guys. They’d workout for one hour in the weight room and then for one hour on the field performing agility, quickness and speed work. Some of the workouts included throwing tires, cone sprints and heavy rope swings.
How has training with guys helped your players?
The girls compete real hard — they don’t quit. Training with the football team has made them more mentally tough. The training is very physical, but they keep up.
What other training has contributed to the team's success this season?
Yoga. It’s been so good for their flexibility. We do it on Wednesday for an hour before weight training. Knock on wood, we’ve had less injuries. The girls learn how to control their breathing, and they practice visualization. I think that’s helped quite a few of them with their free throws.
How might better breathing help with free throw technique?
Breathing is the only way you’re going to make your free throws. So much of the time when you get on the free throw line and you’ve got to tie [the game] or make [the shot] to win, a player just quits breathing. Holding your breath makes your shoulders come up under your ears and you don’t have a relaxed shot.
What’s key to your athletes' recovery routine that helps them withstand intense training?
We’re strong believers in ice baths. If we have a really tough game on a Tuesday, they’ll find time before school or the day after to get in an ice bath. They sit for 20 minutes. They hated it and cried last year. They believe in it though. It’s all voluntary, and a majority of them do it twice a week.