Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group, LLC Blog

Movement Prep: Making the Most of It

Posted by Guest Blogger on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 @ 08:04 AM

Note: I first met Andy while he was the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Virginia Commonwealth University.  If you follow the CAA or are just a general hoops fan, you’ll remember VCU lead by a young point guard named Eric Maynor knocking off 6-seeded Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2007.  Eric is now displaying his magic throwing lobs to POY candidate Kevin Durant in the NBA and Andy is now working in the SEC at the University of Alabama.  Take a look at how one of the best young Basketball Strength Coaches develops each movement prep and the planning behind each one.

Whether it is a 2 hour practice or 45 minute weight training session, proper movement prep (MP) is an essential part of our basketball routine.  This short session of stretches can have a big impact on your team’s physical and mental well-being.  There are many factors that need to go into devising your MP.  I will explain 4 Elements of MP along with other factors to take into consideration when designing your MP plan.  In my case I have to specifically come up with a plan for basketball.  Now the needs for my basketball team and are very different from what another team or sport may need.  Therefore, it’s vital to identify what my needs are.

When I design a MP, the first thing I ask myself is, what are we doing it for?  Well that’s easy, basketball, duh!  True, but I need to get more in depth than that.  Some days we will practice for 2 or more hours and it will be at a high intensity.  Another day may be getting shots up for an hour.  We may do individual work in a ¼ court setting with moderate intensity.  The MP may be after we got off a plane or bus!

Now that I know what I’m using the MP for I can ask myself a few more questions.  How long do I have for MP?  Coach usually gives me a timeframe to work with, it’s important to know.  If I have 5 minutes, I have to use exercises that give me the most bang for my buck.  If I have longer, I better know what to do with my time.  I can’t exhaust the team with my 10-15 minutes.

Where are the players at mentally?  If I have great exercises but mentally the players have cashed out on me, it’s something I need to take into consideration.  The great MP I designed won’t do its job, unless I get them doing it with some level of alertness and focus.  Over the course of a basketball season the mental part is huge!  After talking with a colleague this year, he calculated all of the movement preps over the course of a year at over 300!  Your players may lose some interest; the question to yourself is what can I do to get them ready today?

How many players will I be warming up?  If I have the entire team, how specific and difficult can I get with exercise?  It’s difficult to view 15 players trying to do a split stance lunge with 3-way uni-lateral upper body drivers with 3 angulations.   At another time I may have a 4 man group, who moves well and understands exactly what I want.  Timing is important for whatever you’re flowing into.

Will I have any implements?  It can be a very specific piece of equipment such as a tri-stretch or something much more basic as a box.  You can get very creative and expand your toolbox of exercises with implements.  Something else to consider are your resources when you travel.  It may be wise to travel with some equipment but size is an issue.  I’ve also found bleachers and railings are hidden gems when looking for implements on the road.

After you’ve answered those it’s time to get into the actual MP.  With each MP I believe you need to incorporate 4 Elements into its design.  I did not create these 4 categories but I was fortunate to study under, Matt Herring at the University of Florida for nearly 3 years and take away these organized ideas about MP from him.

1.        Increase muscle temperature (Warm-Up)

·         Dynamic flexibility
·         Multiple joints & muscles
·         3-planes

2.       Clear dysfunctions and improve mobility

·         Identify dysfunctions & issues
·         Mobility vs Stability – what needs what
·         3-planes
·         The big 3 – Ankle, Hip, T-Spine

3.       Turning on the CNS

·         3-planes
·         Ground based
·         Gravity
·         Proprioception

4.        Movement

·         Basic movement patterns
·         Basketball movement patterns

There is a 5th category I have as well but I don’t include it with the previous 4 elements.  The last one is a needs category.  This category is unique from the others.  Most often it turns out to be an energy and enthusiasm category.   I don’t always use it but if I can see we need it, I’ll include it.  These exercises are sometimes very specific to basketball but not always.  I may view the need for communication and incorporate that into a drill.  There have been days where the staff has gotten involved with category 5.  This category is always last; so it is right before the guys are handed over to coach.

Below is an example of a pre-practice warm-up that will last for 2+ hours at a high intensity.  It is done in the pre-season so the guys are fresh mentally.    The entire team will be involved and I’ll have all of my normal implements.  Coach has given me 10-12 minutes.

Muscle Temperature - 4 Dynamic Flexibility
    Knee Hug
    Heel to Butt
    Straight Leg March
    Sumo Squats

Dysfunction/Mobility- The Big 3
     Ankle – Tri-Stretch
     Hip – Hip Rockers w/ 3 stances
     T-Spine – T-Hugs/T-Swings

     Jump Matrix or Pivot Matrix w/ Arm Drivers

     High Knees/Butt Kicks – Forward/Retro
     Skip Matrix – Forward/Retro
     S-Pattern Runs/Shuffles

Category 5         
     Star Passing

Here are a few other things to consider:

·         Recording and dating each session
·         Creating an encyclopedia of exercises
·         Grading the MP, ex. too long, confusing, lost focus
·         Reuse a MP, probably not every day but maybe once every few weeks
·         When Coach says, “We won’t go hard today, do we need to stretch?”  Say yes, 5 minutes won’t hurt!
·         In-Season this is the only thing you may get to do with them for a week or 2 stretch (hopefully not)
·         It’s ok to ask the players what they need, they’ll often tell you.  Doesn’t mean you have to conform!  They’re mental needs of, “I Feel It,” are important
·         If you can get a copy of the practice plan, it can help with design.  It helps to know if practice will start with a 5 on 5 full court or defensive skill work

Andy Weigel is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Basketball team at the University of Alabama and can be reached at


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