Coach watches as a basketball player takes a shot at the basket.

The next level

It’s a Thursday evening and a group of teenagers are playing a spirited, competitive game of basketball at the Upward Star Center in Spartanburg. Just a few feet away, another group of teenagers are being trained by Coach Gary Hazelwood and other experts from Spartanburg Regional’s Sports Medicine Institute.

It’s part of a training program designed to make local basketball players bigger, stronger and faster on the court.

“Our goal is to teach them the proper exercises, techniques and drills to help them be able to perform at a high level,” said Hazelwood, who also trains other teams as the sports performance supervisor at the Sports Medicine Institute.

And for coaches such as David Bentley, the training is making a big difference in his players’ performance.

“To watch these kids grow over time, and see them improve is a testament to what they have been able to accomplish on the court, but off of it as well,” said Bentley, who has been a high school and college coach for 14 years and is in his first year coaching for the Amateur Athletic Union in Spartanburg. “Working with the training staff here has been beneficial because of their knowledge and experience, and you can see the way it translates to the way they play.”

The training classes, held Tuesdays and Thursdays, are tailored to help improve performance and growth. Some feature weight training, while others go through drills such as shuttle runs, box jumps and backboard taps that are designed to increase agility, mobility, flexibility and explosiveness.

And these drills make a difference in the way players perform, Bentley said.

“The successful programs that I have been around are the ones that have the trainers working hand-in-hand with the coach,” Bentley said. “And you see that here, because of how the trainers care about the kids and work with them to get better to help them succeed.”

One such player is Jordan Woodruff, who has been working with Hazelwood and his staff for the past four months.

Woodruff is a dual-sport athlete at Riverside High School in Greer and a starter on the Warriors basketball team, and he credits the training with helping increase his natural athletic ability and improving his talent.

“It has helped me look better than the men in front of me on the court,” Woodruff said. “It has helped me be a better athlete, quicker and more experienced. I have seen a big difference. It is one of the best training programs I have been in and I like it a lot.”

He says that the training has helped improve his speed and explosiveness but has also provided him with a mental edge as well.

“They help you become more intelligent with what you do and how you do it,” Woodruff said. “They push you and they support you. There has been a bunch of times where I didn’t think I could do it, but they helped me keep going.”

Enhance your performance, no matter what sport you play. Learn from Spartanburg Regional’s Sports Performance experts.