Kelsey Plum is just weeks removed from winning her second WNBA Championship thanks to a successful season with the Las Vegas Aces, but if you think this dynamic player is now taking a rest courtside, you’d be failing to understand the competitive spirit that brought her an Olympic gold medal in 3-on-3 basketball.
M&F sat down with the popular point guard to find out how she stays passionate and motivated to perform at her best, and soon learned that making progress is about attacking training from multiple angles.
“Everyone in my family played volleyball,” says Plum. “But I just didn’t have that passion for it. I just kinda wanted to do something different, so my dad took me to play pick-up when I was a kid, so I just started playing, and I loved it.” Indeed, Kelsey’s basketball career has been an incredibly fulfilling passion that is now 20 years in the making. Having gone on to play college basketball for the University of Washington, she broke multiple records including the NCAA record for points in a single season (1,080) and the Division I women’s basketball all-time scoring record (3,397).
As a WNBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, the Poway, CA, native has always worked hard to be the best possible athlete both on and off the court. That’s not to say that success has always come easily, but having dealt with a torn Achilles tendon in 2020, Plum’s training is constantly evolving. As such, swimming has now become an integral part of her work to improve both conditioning and recovery. “I’m just doing a lot more non-impact training,” says the baller. “A legit swimming workout is as hard as any workout that you’ll do. Those moments definitely improve my cardiovascular system in the off-season and I’ve also just started boxing. I really enjoy that, and I think the cardio element is there in boxing as well. And then I’m really big into Pilates and yoga and that’s not just off-season. In the season I think Pilates and yoga helps you to stay strong and also nimble and flexible.”
Kelsey Plum Tackles Her Training from Every Direction
“In basketball, there’s a lot of different elements that you need,” explains the professional point guard. “You need strength, you need speed, but you need mobility. You need to be able to change direction and so working on those things has helped me to become a better athlete.” In terms of working on changing direction, deceleration has become an essential piece of the puzzle, allowing her to swiftly change pace while on the court. Plum shares that she undertakes box jumps to this end, practicing jumping down from the box and onto the floor in order to developer her control. The player also says that with time, she has become smarter about her training. “It’s not just about the hours you put in, but what you are doing, and being purposeful with your movements (is what counts),” she explains.
In addition to swimming, Kelsey Plum has placed even more focus on recovery in recent years through tools such as meditation. All of these elements help to light a fire in her, for when she needs to perform at her best. “When I think about being motivated or passionate about things, I really just try to stay present,” says Plum. “I try to stay in the moment and whatever is in front of me, whether it’s a workout or whether it’s a game, a lift, I just try to be great in that workout.”
In terms of living in the moment, now couldn’t be a better time to do so for this elite athlete. Not only does she have her own self-titled shoes in stores, but the player is also partnering with Dick’s Sporting Goods to offer people a chance to win a shopping holiday spree with the champ herself. You can enter the draw here until Nov. 14 .
The competition begs the question: if Kelsey Plum was able to go on her own trolley dash around DICK’s Sporting Goods, just what items would this elite-athlete set her sights on? “I would definitely head for the shoe section and get some sweet Under Armour shoes. Hopefully the Plum’s would be in stock, the ones that just dropped, so I would start with those and then I’d probably go to the sweatshirts,” says the ace, noting that she is currently spending time on the East Coast and feeling the chill.
Plum’s desire to continue being the best possible athlete for playing basketball is clear to see. “I still feel like for me, there’s so much left individually, and of course as our team with the Aces,” she explains. “And then with USA Basketball, focusing on Paris 2024. I’ve had a lot of heavy-hitter benchmarks and moments in a career that is still on the rise, so as much as I’d just like to exhale, I’m not going to take a break yet but it is definitely cool to reflect and see the past couple of years, and winning championships really is as cool as advertised.”
Plum’s supporters will be reassured to know that earning previous championship hasn’t tamed her tenacity to shine bright under the hoops. “I’m actually leaving in a few days for USA Basketball,” she tells M&F. “We are going to do a little bit of an exhibition tour, so as much as I’d like to be in the Bahama’s on vacation, I’m not… But maybe one day we’ll get there.”