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Wes Brown

everything basketball

 

 Wes Brown

 

What has been the biggest mistake you made early in your career?

Early on in my career I believe there were two major mistakes that I made which have led to me being a much better professional today.  I paid less attention to the whole and focused more on the specific extremity/area that was injured.  Taking the NASM Performance Enhancement and Corrective Exercise Specialist courses literally saved my career.  It allowed me to examine everything from the ground up instead of limiting my focus.  The second mistake I made goes hand in hand with my first mistake which was not respecting the cause of the recurrent injuries I saw in my basketball athletes.  Accepting that an athlete had tendinitis in high school and was going to deal with it some while they were an athlete under my care should have not been my thought process.  The NASM courses allowed me to think "tendinitis will not be a problem for you while I am responsible for your care".  With the preventative screening and program implementation I now use, it is my firm belief that most of my athletes are better able to handle the stresses of participation and return much quicker from injury when injury does occur. 

What advice would you give for young professionals looking to follow in your footsteps?

There are a few things that I repeatedly tell the Athletic Training Students under my supervision that I think can be applied by everyone.  First, strive to be the best possible.  What I mean by that is this- look at what those at the pinnacle of the area you want to be in are doing.  For me that was the NBA.  I researched and talked with people about what sports medicine care is like at that level and I try to mirror that in terms of my skill set and knowledge necessary for that job.  My thought process is "if the athletes I take care of here are lucky enough to reach that level, then they will have already experienced to a degree what that level of care should be like".  The second thing I recommend is working on your people skills.  You can know all the information in the world, but your athletes won't care or come to you if they don't like you as a person or think that you care.  I have seen many people not be able to reach their potential simply because of their inability to effectively interact positively with people.  We are in a customer service medical field.  If our patients are not happy with any facet of their care, then we need to try and analyze whether their claims deserve merit and thus action to improve the problem.  And finally never stop learning.  The day you stop learning is the day you start becoming ineffective at your job.  There is always something to be learned and I try to learn as much as I can as often as I can.  I try to learn at least one bit of information that I didn't previously know every day. 

How do you address knee pain in the basketball athlete?

Through the implementation of the corrective exercise screen and corrective exercise program, the incidence of knee pain due to tendinitis in my athletes is virtually non-existent except in those athletes whom receive a very high number of reps in practice and games.  Usually when pain occurs in these individuals, reducing their practice reps is the single most important variable that is changed.  When they are initially screened, the corrective exercise program the athletes receive is designed to address any flexibility and strength shortcomings, as well as improper muscle firing.  For example if the athlete has tight calf musculature, the knee may be limited in its ability to gain more range of motion and absorb shock as they land from a jump putting more stress on an area that is already under enough load based on the normal biomechanics of landing from a jump.  I would focus on the flexibility of that musculature and then improve the strength of the dorsiflexors.  Nearly all exercises have a concentric, isometric, and longer eccentric phase included in each repetition.  Landing and controlling the body's load eccentrically provides the most stress to their knees and thus causes the increases in symptoms they commonly experience.  I also use a Kinesiotaping technique that positions the inferior pole of the patellar inferiorly.  To date I have had a 100% success rate in reducing the pain and allowing more normal function in all athletes I have applied this technique to.  Myofascial release to the gastroc-soleus complex and quadriceps musculature my also be necessitated and this is accomplished with the foam roller before stretching.  I often perform additional myofascial release with my hands to ensure specific spots are addressed that the foam roller may not provide enough release to. 

Name some strength training/rehab/nutrition gimmicks that basketball players and coaches should avoid?

There are a variety of devices and techniques out there being used by our athletes that we will probably never convince them to stop using.  I want to address one which I experienced here at the University of Miami.  There is a product called "Power Balance" which is selling their product mainly in the form of a bracelet.  Our athletes have all went out and purchased it thinking it has the ability to "magically" balance their body and make them stronger.  Now if something scientifically prevents the incidence of injury I will see to it that my athletes are able to receive that technique, equipment, or technology.  However, the power balance bracelets did not decrease the symptoms of tendinitis, a disc bulge, or the acute ankle sprain suffered by my athletes.  Before these injuries, I had "spirited" debates with some of the athletes over why they should continue to come for corrective exercises since they felt the power balance bracelets essentially did the same thing the exercises were doing.  They soon got their answer to those questions and began doing their exercises again; along with the exercises for the injuries they were now suffering from.  Am I saying the power balance bracelets don't work.  By all means no.  What I am saying is that no matter what they put on or into their body; they still must be able to react to the forces placed on their body.  Through proper motor programming and technique they will be better able to handle these demands.   

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Steve Scalzi

everything basketball

 

Steve Scalzi

How and why did you get into the field of coaching?

The game is an impossible puzzle, a metaphor for life, my career choice, and a refuge.  If it were a person I’d have to thank it as though it were a mentor.  It’s taken me across the world, given me a style, a vision, and chance to hopefully impact the lives of others.  The head coach I work under took a chance on me when I was a 22 year old kid, just trying to honor his commitment to me.
Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most? Influenced your philosophy? What have you learned from them that you can you share?

Two people have had the deepest impact: the first is my high school coach John Martino.  He was a true teacher of the game.  I was merely a decent high school player, but came away with such a thorough understanding of the game when I left for college.
Since college and my first position out of school, Northeastern Head Coach Bill Coen has been my mentor.  He’s influenced my philosophy on the technical side of the game, but even more from the standpoint of running a program, treating those around me with respect, relationship building and most importantly – preaching patience. 

Name 3-5 books every basketball coach should have in their library.

Stuff Good Players Should Know: Intelligent Basketball from A-Z, by Dick DiVenzio.  One of the better books highlighting tricks of the trade and nuances of the game.
My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey, by John Wooden.  The game’s most respected gentlemen sharing his story.
Basketball FundaMENTALS, by Jay Mikes.  A great read for the player interested in preparing for competition through mental exercises and visualization.

What is the last book you read and why?

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein.  I rarely find myself reading fiction, but this book teaches you how to listen, pay attention, and support unconditionally – good lessons for a young coach.

What are the top three (3) training tips you would give to a basketball athlete beginning a strength and conditioning program?

1) I think it’s very important that incoming freshmen understand the role that programs play in addressing deficiencies and preparing the body for the rigors of a season.  It’s not merely about being stronger or adding to your vertical.  No player can be effective when injured or tired.  Bad habits creep in with fatigue and team play suffers when focus and efficiency is compromised. 
2) From a coach’s perspective, it boggles my mind to see a kid make a leap in athleticism over his four year college career.  That only happens with a commitment to every level of conditioning - including rehab and nutrition. 
3) Don’t be so caught up in numbers.  Kevin Durant couldn’t bench press to the NBA standard, but, he can get you 30 points a night.  Engage in open discussion with your strength coach to match your aspirations with your potential, then put in the work to meet those reasonable goals you’ve both set. 

What are some of the challenges you experience when training a red-shirt player?

My boss has an interesting philosophy on this matter that I’ve adopted.  Red shirts, freshmen, walk-ons, really any player who does not play big minutes in game situations must recognize one thing:  The head coach is simply a mirror.  What you put into practice is reflected in what you receive in games.  There are certain intangibles that differs from player to player – experience and potential for example.  But for the most part, your productivity, effort, focus, and intensity in practice is how a coach decides your level of preparedness for a game. 
Any player fighting for playing time, especially red shirts, who are new to a program, must recognize that practice is their game day.  Treat it with respect and be ready to work, the coach’s decision to call your number will be a direct reflection of what you bring to the table in practice. 

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Ray Eady

everything basketball 

Ray Eady 

 

 

What is the latest book you read and why?

At the University of Wisconsin, the women's basketball staff has bible study sessions at least once a week throughout the year (even during the summer months).  Our goal as a staff is to coach in God's name and honor.  Right now (as a staff), we are reading a book entitled, "The Quest" Coaching for Jesus in a Bottom line World.  Personally, I look at my career as a blessing (and obligation) from God to mentor and inspire young people.  For me, basketball is simply the platform for doing God's work. As coaches, we have an obligation and a duty to educate, nurture, and develop our athletes beyond the athletic arena. I work mostly with female athletes, so I use my platform to help empower women mentally and physically. Coaches have the ability (and the center stage) to positively influence many people.

Early in my career, it was all about winning games and my coaching reflected this desire. Winning was my way of advancing my career; an opportunity to make more money or to work at a bigger collegiate program.  Losing was not an option and in my opinion that was very selfish.  Now I coach for God and I follow his coaching blueprint which is too prepare young people for success and life's challenges.  I am still a competitive individual but winning has taken on a new meaning.  Winning is having a positive impact on players that will last a life time.

I think Tony Dungy said it best, " We do play on Sundays, but if we play the right way, carry ourselves the right way and honor God with our lives, we can impact people for Christ that would never hear about Him in a normal "church service."

For interns, volunteer coaches, graduate assistant etc. aspiring to be basketball strength coaches, what advice would you give?

My advice to aspiring basketball strength and conditioning coaches is to get on the training floor and learn how to be a GOOD strength and conditioning coach.  Basically, this means learning how to instruct a variety of athletes regardless of sport.  Developing contacts, collecting business cards, and networking is important but at the end of the day, you got to know how to coach.  It's critical that aspiring strength coaches learn how to interact and communicate to a diverse group of athletes particularly in a team setting.  This includes females, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, rural-area athletes, inner-city area athletes, athletes with a strong religious faith, athletes from single family homes, and the list goes on.).  Athletics is the "melting pot" of the world.  Some athletes are motivated differently given their background.  All athletes aren't built the same!  As a strength coach, you got to find the best way to get the most productivity out of your players.  You are not going to get this type of training in a classroom or at a symposium or conference.  This type of training comes from being in the weight room, at practices, at games, at film sessions, etc.

Lastly, in my humble opinion, the most successful strength coaches are also great communicators not only to athletes but to sport coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, doctors, equipment managers, nutritionists, etc. In many cases, you got to be able to articulate and sell your training philosophy (and in some cases defend your philosophy).  Art Horne wrote a great blog on this topic called "Who's fault is it".  Developing positive and productive relationships with people in the athletic department is extremely important.

What is your training philosophy regarding in-season training? Off-season training? Pre-season training?

My goal for the off-season is to prepare our team for the upcoming competitive season by developing the physical qualities need to perform at a healthy and optimal level.  Of course, this includes improving strength, power, sport-specific speed, quickness and conditioning.  At the end of every competitive season, I will develop a yearly training plan based on a couple of factors (a few many include):

1. The number of returning players.  Will we be a veteran or a rebuilding team?
2. What type of playing style will we execute offensively and defensively?
3. Are we a team that needs toughness?  More team unity?
4. Are we skilled at all five positions?  How many players do we have at each position?
5. How will certain players be utilized offensively and defensively?
6. Do some players need additional work (i.e. weight loss, weight gain, speed, etc.)?

Once these factors are identified, I can develop and implement a plan to meet our competitive needs.

I divide the training year into blocks (off-season I, off-season II, pre-season I, pre-season II, and in-season).  Each block focusing on a specific physical quality.  For example, off-season I is typically dedicated to teaching and re-educating the players on how to perform certain "technical" lifts as well as improving posture, balance, coordination, movement, core stability, and GPP (work capacity).  These are the physical qualities that are going to be needed to successfully complete summer workouts.

Our main goal for off-season II is to improve sub-maximal and maximal strength which is extremely important.  Strength is one of the catalysts for enhancing athleticism.

We will still train other qualities such as strength-speed, speed-strength, general conditioning, etc. but our number one priority is to get strong.  This particular block is the best time to achieve this quality because of a couple of reasons:

1. On-court activity is usually reduced during the summer.  Players can give more energy and mind share to weight room activities.
2. I don't believe you can continue to improve strength at an optimal rate during the pre- or competitive seasons because players are now being exposed to stressors that can negatively impact strength gains.  (i.e. individual workouts with coaches, team practices, conditioning sessions, pick-up games, late night study sessions, early classes, etc.)

During pre-season I our goal is to prepare for the start of official practice.  The physical qualities that are highly emphasized are basketball specific movement/endurance, power, and strength. Our training tends to be more specialized to the demands of the sport. 

The goal for pre-season II is to prepare for the beginning portion of our non-conference game schedule.  At this point in time, on-court activity has increased dramatically.  Weight training frequency and volume will decrease but when we train the focus is to maintain strength gains achieved during the off-season and pre-season I.  We tend to do more therapeutic work during these sessions to help facilitate the recovery process as well.

Finally, the goal for the in-season is to keep the players healthy and competitive.  Like most strength coaches, I understand the importance of in-season strength training but I also understand that practice takes priority. You can't put too much physical and mental stress on your players that they are unable to perform efficiently on the court.  Eventually, you will have overtrained players and not so happy coaches.

What are some of the biggest myths that still surround strength training and the basketball athlete?

Many basketball athletes still think the best way to improve their jumping ability (vertical jump) is to continue to do jumping drills outside of playing basketball.  Whether it's on a vertimax, using bands, jump ropes or wearing shoes specially designed to increase jumping performance. As strength coaches, we call all agree that the vertical jump has a direct correlation to limit strength. If you want to jump higher, you must get stronger!  This includes adding squats, deadlifts, rack pulls, posterior chain work, and single leg work into your workouts to develop the maximal strength needed to be explosive. 

Need more proof?  Studies from the National Strength and Conditioning Association have shown that the average vertical jump for a division I collegiate basketball is approximately 27" when compared to a division I collegiate defensive back (football) which is approximately 33". In my opinion, this is not a coincidence.  I still believe the majority of basketball players and coaches are still light years behind their football counterparts when it comes to strength training (and conditioning).  Many basketball players continue to specialize during the off-season while their football counterparts tend to concentrate the majority of their efforts on strength training.  Yearly specialization by the basketball athlete will have a negative impact on developing the maximal strength needed to improve other physical attributes.

What assessments or evaluations do you use with your players during pre-season?

During the pre-season, the athletic trainer and I will assess and evaluate the players in a couple of areas.  First, we will do a functional movement screen.  I like doing the movement screens because it allows me to asses an array of total body movement mechanics.  As you know, proper movement mechanics is needed to perform efficiently, effectively, and injury free on the basketball court.  The screens we typically use are:

1. Overhead squat test
2. Hurdle test
3. Active hamstring test
4. In-line lunge test

In addition to the screens, we will do the hop and stop test and the leap and stop test to assess a player's ability to produce, absorb, and stop force on one leg.

We will also do some performance evaluations to measure leg power and strength.  To measure power, we will do a series of vertical jump test. 

1. Static jump test to measure starting strength
2. Countermovement jump test to measure speed-strength
3. 4-jump test to measure how efficient a player is using their power repeatedly

We perform these jumps on a just-jump mat while the athletes are holding a dowel on the back of their shoulders (as if they were going to do a back squat).  The goal is to eliminate the action of the arms to really determine leg power.   I like performing these tests because they can help you determine if certain players need more strength work or more speed/elastic work.

For conditioning, we will do the standard 300 yard shuttle test which is a great test to measure anaerobic capacity.  This year, I will test the players in the 150 yard shuttle because the energy system demands are bit different (anaerobic power).

Lastly, we will do body composition assessments on a DXEA system to determine body fat and lean muscle tissue.  I want our players to be at an optimal body weight for increase performance and to reduce the chances of injury. 

I must say the most overrated test when evaluating basketball players has to be the bench press test.  So many coaches put a premium on the results. I am not saying basketball players don't need upper body pushing strength but the relevance it has on basketball performance is minimal. When the bench press can prevent a female player from tearing their ACL then I will put more emphasis on the test.

Let's make it clear, performance evaluations will never truly tell you if a player will have some success on the court.  It merely predicts future performance.  All the strength and power in the world won't make you a successful athlete unless you're able to apply it in sport-specific contexts and integrate it with finer motor qualities.

I don't try to re-invent the wheel when it comes to testing.  I want to make my evaluations meaningful for my athletes and to make it applicable for what they will most likely be doing on the court.

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Mike Curtis

Mike Curtis

 

Mike Curtis

How and why did you get into the field of strength and conditioning?

Early in my collegiate academic career I thought that I wanted to work in the physical therapy field and I studied sports medicine at the University of Virginia.  As an athlete I had always enjoyed the performance enhancement aspect of things as I saw that it gave me an opportunity to level the playing field with better athletes.  In graduate school I came across a mentor in Tony Decker who taught me how to integrate both disciplines and I was sold on trying to keep athletes out of the training and on the field of play while also enhancing their ability to perform.  
 
Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most? Influence your training philosophy? What have you learned from them that you can you share?

Early in my career it was coach Tony Decker who fostered my development and helped me form a training philosophy.  Since then my philosophy has grown from my encounters and experiences with Vern Gambetta, Al Vermiel, Erik Helland, Mark Verstegen, and Darryl Eto.   I guess the biggest thing I took from all of them was to never end your quest to be better at your craft. 
 
Name 3-5 books every basketball strength and conditioning coach should have in their library and why?

1)     Supertraining because of its scientific foundation in regards to sporting strength.

2)     The Science and Practice Strength Training because it covers the basics.

3)     Muscles Testing and Function with Posture and Pain by Kendall because Alex McKecknie of the Los Angeles Lakers once advised me to continuing educating myself in regards to anatomy and this book is the gold standard.

What is the last book you read and why?

The last book I read was Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance "A Janda Approach".  I read it because I was fascinated by a group of Canadian Therapist who came in to work with some of our student-athletes here at Virginia and I wanted to read more about their training approach.
 
Generally speaking, what is your philosophy for training a basketball player? How does it differ from other sport athletes?

I primarily and initially focus on an athletes' ability to be an efficient and effective mover.  I believe mobility, stability, and technical proficiency in fundamental movements should take place before any heavy loading is imposed.  In regards to specificity I think that there must be some level of simulation that needs to take place in order truly get athletes to execute movements they need in the competitive environment. 
 
What has been the biggest mistake you made as a coach when training a player?

In my early years as a strength coach I focused too much on numbers in the weight room and not on the numbers that really counted which were/are numbers on the court or field of play. I used to think that if they were strong I was doing my job.  Now I believe that if they are healthy, have a level athleticism that relates to enhanced sport skill, and then strong I am doing my job. 
 
How has your training philosophy changed in the last 3-5 years?

I have evolved from focusing solely on general strength and power development (clean, squat, bench) to devoting much more training time to functional and specific strength and power development through what some traditionalist would consider unconventional means. 
 
For interns, volunteer coaches, graduate assistants, etc. aspiring to be basketball strength coaches, what advice would you give?

Find a mentor or group of mentors who consistently challenge you to be great and then grow.  

What are the three (3) biggest mistakes a basketball player makes when it comes to strength and conditioning?

1)     Utilizing lifts that do not make since for their lever system

2)     Training the wrong energy systems for basketball through LSD work.

3)      Not respecting/understanding the value a sound training program can have on performance and injury reduction.

What are the top three (3) training tips you would give to a basketball athlete beginning a strength and conditioning program?

1)     Focus on controlling you own bodyweight before adding an external load

2)     Make sure you train 3 dimensionally

3)     Try to incorporate soft tissue work into your program on regular basis

What is your training philosophy regarding in-season training? Off-season training? Pre-season training?

In-season: Continue to build strength through the early non-conference and then maintain strength in the later portion to insure maintenance of force production.

Off-Season: Restore Mobility and Stability, Increase strength to enhance force production

Pre-Season: Enhance function specific to neuromuscular demands of the sport

What areas do you address for those players that don't play significant minutes during the in-season?

The athletes who aren't in the rotation typically train and condition before our home games.   In addition to that we have instituted a 15min rule.  Athletes who do not play a minimum of 15 minutes in a competition must complete and conditioning session before the next practice.

What is your philosophy on basketball conditioning?  Some sport coaches believe in long distance training to improve basketball specific endurance?  What is your opinion?

I don't believe in LSD for basketball athletes.  I think it is counterproductive to developing the type of physical qualities desirable in basketball. I think that interval based protocols are best.

What are some of the biggest myths that still surround strength training and the basketball athlete?

Weight training affects your shooting skill.

Should female basketball players train differently than male players?

I think there are certain gender considerations that must be taken into account structurally and hormonally but at the end of the day training should be about being efficient in movement, getting strong, and developing the ability to producing force.

What assessments or evaluations do you use with your players during pre-season? Summer months?

We assess our athlete throughout the year.  Our assessments are broken into 2 categories.  The first is an orthopedic/movement screen, which involves an assessment of posture, functional movement and tissue length.  The second is a performance evaluation that assesses vertical power (jumping), speed, and agility.

Are the training requirements for a post player different than a perimeter player? How so?

Yes, Post players are required to cover less total distance within a game but typically have to jump more in comparison to guards and wings.  Additionally you must account for the differences in limb length in strength training through adjustments in rep schemes as athletes with longer lever are doing more work when compared to guards when utilizing identical rep schemes.  This in addition to the fact that larger athletes take longer to recover must all be taken into account when developing programs for different positions.

There has been a lot of debate about the squat and single leg training.  In your opinion, should basketball players squat? Year round? Only summer? Never?

I feel that is a decision that should be made on an athlete-by-athlete basis.  Some athletes structurally are not made to squat in my opinion. A good strength coach will find another way to load the lower extremity and develop strength without exposing an athlete to potentially dangerous exercises.  For those athletes that have been identified as low risk for squatting related injuries I have trained that movement year round.

Name some strength training gimmicks that basketball players and coaches should avoid?

Strength Shoes

What is the best way to develop lateral speed in basketball? Agility? First step quickness?

I don't know that there is a best way.  What has been successful for me is teaching the proper mechanics of movement in a general sense in conjunction with strength training programs that focus on developing the physical qualities necessary to yield and overcome.  As the competitive season approaches the general nature of the training becomes more specific in regards to specificity of joint angles and simulation of movements. I typically have gone through 4 phases in training movement to athletes.  1) Deceleration/ Yeilding 2) Starting Speed/strength 3) Agility (acceleration, deceleration, reacceleration) and 4) mimic function,

Players love to compete whether it's on the court or in the weight room.  How do you create a competitive environment in the weight room?

Friday is our high volume days in the weight room during most off-season phases so we challenge our guys to compete and see who can lift the heaviest loads based on what RM range is prescribed for that day (ie. 10RM, 6RM).   This is the only day we truly focus on competition in the weight room as our other days have a training objective that may be compromised by elevated volume and/or intensity due to competition.   On the other hand all of our movement training in the special preparatory block is structured to challenge the athlete to do it faster or more times than his opponent.

What methods do you use to develop explosive power?  What are your thoughts for using the Olympic lifts in your training?

Once again I think exercise selection is individual to the athlete based on body structure, training history, and their attention to details.  My preference is to utilize Olympic lifting derivatives for power development.  However, if an athlete lacks the necessary discipline and attentiveness to execute the lifts properly often times I choose different training modalities.

How do you address nutrition with your players?

We are lucky enough to have a sports nutritionist here at the University of Virginia and our strategy is to educate our athletes on healthy food choices for performance. As we make the transition here with a new sports nutritionist I have mandated that our student-athletes meet with the nutritionist once a month to discuss habits and continue education for nutrition after athletics.

What injury prevention strategies do you implement with your athletes?

Sound strength training and progressive movement training and an corrective exercise strategy that is derived from NASM, Grey Cook, and Gary Gray screening and assessment models.

What training advice would you give to a high school basketball player seeking to improve their strength and power?

Start with the basics.  Master your own bodyweight first.  Establish mobility, stability, and efficiency in fundamental movement patterns.  You will become stronger and more powerful as you build relative strength and efficiency in movement.  Once you have established that you can progress to more advanced training protocols.

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Matt Herring

basketball resources 

Matt Herring

How and why did you get into the field of strength and conditioning?

I decided to enter the field of strength and conditioning after several years teaching and coaching middle school. I had always enjoyed coaching and training athletes, but knew I didn't have the pedigree or connections to try to become a collegiate sport coach. Because of my desire to remain in the athletics realm, I decided that strength and conditioning might be an exciting option. I knew nothing of the requirements, experience, or qualifications of a strength coach so I simply looked at job opening requirements and realized I needed certification and more importantly experience. That led me to enroll in graduate school at the University of Texas-Austin where I met Todd Wright. Todd invited me to observe his pre-season training sessions and I took full advantage. I spent that pre-season watching, learning, questioning, and probably annoying Todd until my I realized I had academic obligations as well. For the next two years Todd mentored me and provided me countless opportunities to grow and develop as a strength coach. Without his guidance and friendship, I would not be where I am today.

Generally speaking, what is your philosophy for training a basketball player? How does it differ from other sport athletes?

My philosophy would probably be labeled or categorized as "functional". I truly believe that no one's philosophy fits a particular label and that we all use elements from all philosophies, however, the functional label seems to fit best. To me, functional training involves several key concepts. The first is an understanding of how the body and all its systems truly work to create movement. This required an appreciation of kinesiology's definitions of muscle functions, i.e. the textbook action of a muscle. But it also demanded an understanding of the functional action of a muscle, something that is extremely challenging. This led to the concept of training relative to gravity, meaning in an upright, ground-based position. The next concept addressed the importance of movement vs. muscle. By better understanding how each muscle functions, I learned that no one muscle works in isolation. Therefore, instead of training muscles, I learned to train movements.  Finally, I learned the importance of training multi-planar. These basic concepts of training in an upright, ground-based position; training movements not muscles; and training multi-planar are the foundation of my philosophy.  Because human movement function is the same for all athletes, this foundation fits all the sports I train. The differences involve the movement patterns, specific physiological requirements, and desired outcomes of training.

 

Name some strength training gimmicks that basketball players and coaches should avoid?

The number one gimmick that I used to encountered were Jump Soles, or other strength shoes that elevate the heel to supposedly increase power. Beyond the countless research that rebuffs these claims, the stress and dysfunction that these shoes place on the foot and calf are incredible. So many important actions/reactions are initiated upon foot contact with the ground that it would be impossible to functionally train an athlete involving these shoes.

What injury prevention strategies do you implement with your athletes?

While injury prevention is impossible, injury reduction can be aided in various ways. Proper assessment is the first step in order to identify potential problems before they arise. Training multi-planar helps to avoid an over-dominance of one-plane (usually sagittal). Engaging the muscles proproceptively through all ranges of motion and all speeds is also important.
*Proprioceptively does not mean balance/unstable training, but rather that the proproceptors are getting the correct information from the exercise/movement intervention so that the brain/CNS knows how to properly stimulate muscles to cause the desired result. The "load to explode" concept best demonstrates this in that muscles are eccentrically "loaded" in order to concentrically "explode". It is this loading that engages the proprioceptors properly.
Finally, utilizing mobility exercises to address specific or general needs is also an important element to injury reduction.

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Glenn Harris

everything basketball

 

Glenn Harris

How and why did you get into the field of strength and conditioning?

I originally went to Springfield College for physical therapy.  It was during my junior year that I had made the decision to focus entirely on strength and conditioning athletes.  After graduating from Springfield, I went on to Appalachian State for my master’s degree in Exercise Science.

Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most? Influence your training philosophy? What have you learned from them that you can you share?

I would have to start with Michael Boyle.  It was Michael who actually gave me my first opportunity in strength and conditioning as his first intern.  And it was during that time that I had realized that I made the correct decision to switch my major.  It was during that internship experience that I learned never to be afraid to ask questions.  In fact, one thing that I always continue to tell my interns today…Never be afraid to ask why?

I have been working in this field for a while so there have been many people who have influenced my training philosophy to what it is today.  I would have to mention Mike Kent, director of strength and conditioning at Appalachian State, who helped me during graduate school.  Also, from the academic side, I had the opportunity to learn directly from Mike Stone, now at East Tennessee State, Harold O’Bryant, Alan Utter, and others who were faculty during my time at ASU.

Name 3-5 books every basketball strength and conditioning coach should have in their library and why?

Weight Training: A Scientific Approach by Stone and O’Bryant
High-Performance Sports Conditioning by Foran
Power Eating by Kleiner

What is the last book you read and why?

Crush It! By Gary Vaynerchuk.  One of my former athletes noticed the passion that I have when I work to make athletes better.  He had read the book while he was here and gave me a copy to read as well.  It gets you fired up when you read it and makes you want to work even harder.

Generally speaking, what is your philosophy for training a basketball player? How does it differ from other sport athletes?

My philosophy for basketball, and all sports, is to improve the athletes’ strength and power through training in order to improve performance in competition.  Although the programs will change from sport to sport, my philosophy will always be the same.

What has been the biggest mistake you made as a coach when training a player?

The biggest mistake that I made was not taking into account total volume of training.  In the weight room, on the court, pick-up games; when I first started coaching, I often thought that I had to get through everything on the program in order to be successful.  After sitting down and looking at the “big picture” and all of the volume that I had these guys doing, it became obvious why I wasn’t seeing the results that I had intended on seeing.

For interns, volunteer coaches, graduate assistances, etc. inspiring to be basketball strength coaches, what advice would you give?

Intern, network, attend clinics and conferences, watch and observe, take notes, and ask questions.  Now don’t get me wrong, if you pepper me with questions during the workout then I might tell you to sit down and watch.  But there is a proper time to sit down and talk with the coach about philosophy.
Also, as the saying goes, there is a reason why you have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth.  As a young up-and-comer in the field, try to listen and watch more than speaking and telling me who much you know.


What is your training philosophy regarding in-season training? Off-season training? Pre-season training?

I have a year round training philosophy that is divided into: In-season, Off-Season, and Pre-Season.  When looking at the different phases of training, I always look at the total volume of work being done by the players.  From practice, games, strength training, etc., I have now focused on looking at the total volume of work in order to try and prevent overtraining.

When I talk to people about training, I use the pie chart analogy.  You only have one pie and you can break up the training into any number of pieces of pie but you can’t have another pie.

My in-season philosophy has a pie with a big piece dedicated to the court.  Obviously, games and practices take up a big chunk of the in-season pie, therefore the strength training workouts are shorter.  Depending on the number of days we can get into the weight room will dictate what type of weight training we will do; total body or split.

The off-season workout has more of the pie dedicated to off-court training.  Strength training and Conditioning workouts can have more volume because the volume on the court from games and practices have decreased.

The pre-season workout really is an important time.  The court workouts begin to pick up in volume and frequency so it is important to monitor that with a possible decrease in weight room volume.

What areas do you address for those players that don't play significant minutes during the in-season?

We have a 10 minute rule the next time that they come in to the weight room for a lift.  I print out the previous games box score.  If you are 10 minutes or less on minutes played, then a bike workout has to be done after the lift. 

What is your philosophy on basketball conditioning?  Some sport coaches believe in long distance training to improve basketball specific endurance?  What is your opinion?

Intervals.  The game of college basketball is a set of intervals.  Sprint…whistle…sprint…whistle.  Even if there were no whistles at all, you still would get a break every four minutes for the media.  My point is, I will have our guys do conditioning with an interval foundation.  The intervals can be set up into any time segments, but I have typically set my times up for :20, :30, or :60 sprints.  Then I will set the rest intervals accordingly.

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Eric Gahan

everything basketball

 

Eric Gahan

How did you get into the field of Sports Medicine?
 
Like many in the profession of athletic training I was introduced to the world of sports medicine through my own personal injury.  I was a high school athlete that tore my ACL while playing in a football game as a sophomore in high school (1993-94).  I had all the classic signs and symptoms of a typical torn ACL, but unlike today I had no help as to what the “pop” was in my knee at the time of injury.  At a young age I became determined to find out if there was a better way for assessment of injury on the sideline of a sporting event.  I started the process of researching professions.  I started out with shadowing physical therapists.  It was interesting to see all the assessment skills and rehabilitation techniques but it lacked a certain luster I was after.  I continued with my research and came upon the profession of athletic training.  I found a local athletic trainer to go shadow and it became my passion from that day on.  I was impressed by the advanced assessment skills of the athletic trainer and also the rehabilitation skills.  The rehabilitation skills that begin at the time of injury and continue through to the return to play.  I began reading articles in the Journal of Athletic Training and visiting undergraduate institutions that supported a bachelors of science in athletic training.

Since graduating from Canisius College in 2000 with my BS in athletic training and University of Kentucky in 2002, my passion for the profession has not stopped.  I am continuously searching for new ideas and techniques that can progress me to the status of a great athletic trainer.  Most of my clinical skills come from evidence based medicine to help to make a precise and effective health care provider.  As we all know time is a valuable thing to an athletic trainer and the athletes we treat and rehabilitate.  As with everything in the health care setting my skills are constantly in the evolution process.  I like to think that I am constantly changing and adapting my assessment and rehabilitation skills to match the needs of athletes today.
 
How has your philosophy changed in the past three to five years?
 
Three areas that have changed are first my assessment of function in my initial evaluation.  In the past I tended to have an athlete lay passive on the treatment table as I went through my assessment techniques.  While palpation of anatomy is extremely valuable, and focusing in on the area of pathology, following my assessment of each athlete they rise off the table and I assess function.  Assessing for muscular dysfunction and inactivation, through several closed kinetic chain movement patterns either upper extremity, lower extremity, or an integrated upper and lower body movement.  Having the patient rise off the table and be part of the assessment is engaging for both the athlete and the athletic trainer.  Upper extremity I might see scapular dysfunction and determine an appropriate rehabilitation, while lower extremity I might detect a gluteal dysfunction that might need to be addressed with an appropriate muscular activation.

Second, I have changed my approach to the rehabilitation of the core musculature.  This change came two years ago when I attended a lecture series hosted by advisory board member Art Horne.  The lecture series brought in Stuart McGill from the University of Waterloo.  His evidence on core training was ground breaking in my mind.  After seeing Dr. McGill lecture I now had great new techniques to assess muscular activation in the core.  I also now understood we need to take an injury prevention approach through developing endurance in the core.  I cannot emphasis enough how much more successful I have been in rehabilitating the core and then developing injury prevention techniques in the athletic population through following Dr. McGill’s evidence.  Whether the patient is post surgical or fully functional the core is always assessed and appropriate activation techniques are utilized to ensure this area is never compromised.  A must read for every athletic trainer is Dr. McGill’s textbook: Low Back Disorders.  This text never acquires any dust on my bookshelf!

The last area that has changed in recent years through current evidence is my approach toward closed kinetic chain functional training.  I now use the term integrated training when reaching the final stages of rehabilitation.  I like to integrate several different systems of the human body while rehabilitating an injury.  This includes using proper muscle activation, joint and muscle range of motion, joint mobility, and balance.  This approach uses both upper and lower extremity in the process of rehabilitation.  While using both upper and lower body activation we must include the core to progress the athlete properly.  My techniques of an integrated rehabilitation can include thera-band or my favorite the Russian kettlebell.  The Russian kettlebell when incorporated properly and with proper weight for rehabilitation can be an extraordinary in incorporating all areas described in an integrated rehabilitation approach.  With proper activation of the core through integrated rehabilitation we give the upper and lower extremity a strong stable base to perform.  This also, in theory, can lead to improved time of rehabilitation, which can lead to quicker, healthier, and more efficient return to full activity of the athlete.  A valuable read for all athletic trainers to begin the process of learning the movement patterns with Russian kettlebells is: Enter the Kettlebell! by Pavel Tsatsouline.  

Please discuss your philosophy on taping/bracing.  Does this cause problems elsewhere?  What are the advantages of taping/bracing?  
 
Currently my philosophy on taping and bracing is that I implement it on each player.  In the past year I have switched to Power Tape and it seems to be holding up to the claims it made as compared to conventional taping methods.  First off, the product has evidence to prove its supportive abilities do hold up during and after athletic events.  Athletes like the product and are more compliant to come in and get taped up.  The product does hold up to a three hour practice with the most profuse sweating of an athlete, and in fact seems to have better breathe-ability for the athlete also. 
I do not believe that taping and bracing causes problems elsewhere.
I believe the advantages of taping or bracing include supporting of the ankle in an athlete with previous history of inversion ankle sprains, compressive abilities against the foot, ankle and lower leg to possibly increase the activation of the musculature in the area to help prevent or control an ankle injury better. 
 
How do you address knee pain the basketball athlete?
 
It begins with a detailed history of the injury.  Things such as when and where the pain is?  Are there specific activities of daily living that cause pain?  Are there specific athletic activities that cause pain?  Was there a specific time when you remember doing something that caused the pain to begin in the knee.  I then proceed to take a comprehensive look at the knee both orthopedic evaluation and functional evaluation.  My functional evaluation is sometimes where we get to the root of the knee pain.  I will assess ankle mobility, knee stability, hip mobility, and finally core stability all through functional movement patterns.  These areas must be working in conjunction with one another to help solve the athlete’s history of knee pain.  There may be a anterior and posterior core activation issue, that leads to improper firing of the glute complex, which causes the knee to drop in a valgus pattern, and then causes a drop in the arch of the foot.  You start at the top and address each issue and the athlete will get significantly better on the court and in life.

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Devan McConnell

everything basketball

 

Devan McConnell

How and why did you get into the field of strength and conditioning?

Growing up I was a hockey player. I was always decently talented, but I was fortunate to be instilled with a great work ethic from my parents, who always preached the importance of dedication and hard work. Because of this, and my passion for the game of hockey, I was always trying to better myself.  In high school I was again very fortunate to have access to a strength and conditioning coach and PE teacher by the name of Chris Mattingly, who taught me how to train and was really ahead of his time back then.
I really enjoyed training and quickly saw how it improved my performance on the ice, and ever since I was hooked. I trained throughout my career and really had an interest in not only getting myself better, but helping my teammates improve as well. It was not until I was in college that I realized this hobby and passion that I had was a viable career choice. Up until then I never put two and two together and I was looking to get an education in Physical Therapy, although I knew I wanted to be on the performance side of things, not necessarily the rehab side.
It was at that point that I again found myself in an incredibly lucky situation, as I was invited to be an intern by Michael Boyle. I spent my junior summer learning and coaching and getting more and more passionate about strength and conditioning, and ever since then I have been completely immersed in the field.

Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most?

I have had many people influence me over the years, but by far the biggest influence on my development and career path has been Michael Boyle. I actually met him for the first time when I was 15 at the USA Hockey National Festival, however it was during my time in college when he really took on the role of mentor to me. He invited me to work as an intern at his private facility, MBSC, and ever since he has helped shape my philosophy as a coach. Things like training movements not muscles,  training athletes not sports, the importance of single leg work, and how to “speak coach” are all valuable lessons I’ve learned from Coach Boyle.
Education

What is your philosophy on basketball conditioning?

Basketball is a power, interval sprint based game. The movement patterns and work to rest ratios are very clear when you break down game film. There is absolutely no slow, endurance type action that takes place during a basketball game. Coaches who still believe steady state aerobic work is necessary to the conditioning of a basketball player are simply uninformed, naïve, or just plain stubborn and set in their outdated ways.
When performing conditioning work for the game of basketball, it is crucial to understand the energy system demands of the sport, and build your program around that. Because of this, all the conditioning work I implement with my athletes is interval based. We use different tools and different intensities based on the time of year, injury history, and other various circumstances, but we are always performing our conditioning work in an interval format.
Interval training is not only more specific to the demands of the game of basketball, but it also produces better results than steady state aerobic exercise in less time, with less joint stress, and on a wider spectrum of physiological adaptations than any other method. We can not only develop the anaerobic energy system of a basketball player with interval training, but also the aerobic system. This is not possible in the reverse order. An athlete cannot become more anaerobically trained via endurance work. Most sport coaches do not know this and have a hard time understanding the reasons behind it. 
Not only do I utilize interval training for these reasons, but also to avoid the negative impact that endurance work can have on a power-based athlete. Changes in the physiology of an athlete such as a shift towards slow twitch muscle fiber can occur, which will lead to a decrease in speed and power.  Overuse injuries are also more likely to develop due to the repetitive stress that will occur with long runs.

Should a female basketball player train differently than a male basketball player?

No, a female basketball player should not train any differently than a male player, however in   my opinion it is most male’s who should train like females. The things that are important for a female basketball player to focus on in order to be successful from a training standpoint, both when it comes to injury reduction and performance enhancement are the same variables which will help a male. Explosive power, single leg emphasis, core and lumbar stabilization, interval training. These are all areas of development which will help any athlete, whether they are male or female, or for that matter a basketball or football or hockey or lacrosse player.
Unfortunately, many males still spend the bulk of their training time worrying about one-upping their teammates on the bench press, getting as much arm work in as possible, and wasting their time and potentially setting themselves up for future back problems with spinal flexion based core work. On the other hand, most females, if they train at all, spend their time doing aerobic exercise, performing high rep-low weight “strength” work, and also focusing on spinal flexion based core work. Both groups would benefit from training in a functional manner, that is taking a look at how the body actually operates, and performing exercises which compliment and improve their ability to play the game of basketball.
Generally speaking, males need to leave the ego at the door, and females need to learn how the benefits of proper training will help them be successful, and for both groups that means training the same way- intelligently.

Brijesh Patel

dunk shot

 

Brijesh Patel 

How and Why did you get into the field of strength and conditioning

This is kind of a long story, but I'll try to keep it short so I don't bore any of your readers. I was always a "bigger" kid growing up, and had trouble participating in many sports because of my disadvantageous size. I went out for football my freshman year in high school and vowed to lose enough weight so that I would have the opportunity to play more. At my peak, I weighed 225 lbs (standing in at a whopping 5'4) with probably a body-fat of 30% (and that's being generous).
I did a complete overhaul on my diet, began to exercise every day, and read anything I could get my hands on regarding training, and nutrition. I ended up going a little over board and lost 90 lbs in six months. I was then introduced to the weight-room and fell in love with it. As a high school senior, I knew I wanted to be involved in athletics in some way and what better way than athletic preparation?  I loved the prospect of training athletes for their sport and knew I wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach.

I went to the University of Connecticut and volunteered in the varsity weight room in my second week of school. I began by simply observing and asking questions and each year I gained more and more responsibility. By my senior year, I was given two teams to train and coach on my own, which was an unbelievable opportunity in itself. This worked itself into a graduate assistant position at UCONN for another year a half. Along the way I was fortunate enough to complete internships with Mike Boyle at his professional facility, and with Jeff Oliver at the College of the Holy Cross.

Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most?  Influence your training philosophy?  What have you learned from them that you can share?

There have been a number of people that have inspired and influenced me in a number of ways. I really admire all of the people that I have gotten to work with over the years, namely: Jerry Martin, Andrea Hudy, Shawn Windle, Teena Murray, Chris West, Moe Butler, Pat Dixon, Mike Boyle, Ed Lippie, Walter Norton Jr., Jeff Oliver, Liz Proctor, Charles Maka, and anybody else that I forgot.

I would also like to mention that people that have really shaped the industry and been willing to share their own knowledge: Everybody at T-Nation (Cressey, Robertson, TC, Waterbury, Shugart, Thibaudeau, Berardi, John, Cosgrove, Tate, Poliquin, King, and many others), Louie Simmons, Robb Rogers, Vern Gambetta, Mike Boyle, Paul Chek, Juan Carlos Santana, Mike Clark, Mark Verstegen, Charlie Francis (RIP), and all the other great minds and coaches in the field today.

Jerry Martin and the entire staff at UCONN taught me about organization and understanding that the athlete is more than just the body.  They taught me to train the mind and challenge my athletes mentally as well as physically.  They taught me how to create a championship type environment within training sessions.  I don't think enough coaches realize that training the mind is not only as important but sometimes more important than training the body.

Mike Boyle and his staff taught me how to look at the body more functionally.  They taught me how write programs, coach and always look for better ways to do things.  They taught me to question things and understand that there might always be a better way to do things.  They taught me how to look for dysfunctions within the body and how important it is in the development of the athlete.

Jeff Oliver taught me how to maintain balance within my life and how to truly care for your athletes.  He taught me that everybody we work with is a human being, not just an athlete.  If we attempt to make better people, we will make better athletes.  He taught me that work isn't everything and that you have to take time for yourself to ultimately do your job better.

These three different work environments have had a tremendous impact upon myself as a human being and coach.  My parents taught me the foundation of work ethic, respect and self-discipline.  Their teachings along with my work environments have influenced and shaped my philosophy to where it is currently, which is to:
1. Train my athletes with an emphasis on reducing the chance of injury
2. Train my athletes to become better athletes rather than a better basketball player
3. Educate my athletes about themselves, training, nutrition, mental toughness, discipline, work ethic, etc.

The methods and exercises may change year to year, but the underlying goals never change.  I thank everybody for giving me an opportunity to be better and I try to get my athletes to understand that they get to get better each and every day.

What is the last book I read and Why?


The last book I read was the Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and it was recommended by our Hockey Coach.  It was a very good book discussing how and why people become experts or very good at something.  It's very similar to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell in that regards but goes more into myelin and repetition and how that lays the neural pathways to become really, really good at something.
I'm currently reading the Lone Survivor by Marcus Lutrell, which is a story about a Navy Seal and his story of survival in battle.  So far, it's been an outstanding read, especially when he describes the training that the Seal's undergo.  It puts to shame what we our athletes think is hard.  It really gives you a better idea of what the human body is capable of doing.

What are the three biggest mistakes a basketball player makes when it comes to strength and conditioning?

1. No focus on mobility/flexibility training.  Basketball athletes tend to have horrible mobility and flexibility because of the repetitive movements that they perform by playing all the time.  Full range of motion is rarely performed while playing basketball and needs to be implemented to improve joint health and longevity.  Constant repetitive movements through a small range of motion will tear up joints and lead to overuse injuries.
2. Poor selection of lower body strength movements.  Uneducated athletes will tend to use machines when performing lower body training such as the leg press, leg curls and leg extensions which doesn't adequately train the muscles to perform the way they need during sport. 
3. Running long distance for conditioning.  Again this is another poor selection by uneducated athletes and coaches.  I'm a big believer in the adage of train slow to be slow, train fast to be fast.  Running slow for a prolong distance in one direction is not what basketball athletes do and it doesn't make sense to why that should form the bulk of their conditioning.  If you're going to do a long distance run every 2 weeks or so, then it's OK, but it should not be done as the primary means of conditioning.  Basketball athletes should focus on sprints, intervals and performing a variety of different movements that occur during a game at a high intensity with rest intervals mixed in.

What assessments or evaluations do you use with your players during pre-season? Summer months?

I use the Functional Movement screen with our basketball athletes and we perform it twice a year.  The first time is after the season to assess how effective our in-season warm-ups and training were to maintain optimal mobility; it also helps me identify areas of emphasis for our post-season training and extra training that our athletes have to do.
The second time of the year is in the pre-season once my athletes return from the summer.  This is used to identify how effective our mobility work was during the season and if any movement dysfunctions were cleared.
The other test that we implement along with the FMS is a wall dorsiflexion test to measure the amount of dorsiflexion our athletes possess. We put a tape measure on the ground from the wall.  The athlete stands next to the tape and goes through closed chain dorsiflexion by pushing their knee towards the wall.  If the athlete can touch their knee to the wall by keeping their foot flat on the ground, we move them back .5 inch at a time until they can no longer maintain those standards.  I want my athletes to at least have 3 inches of dorsiflexion.

Other tests that we perform during the post-season and pre-season are the following:
a. Vertical Jump standing (countermovement)
b. Vertical Jump with Approach
c. Lane Agility
d. Free throw & ¾ Court Sprint
e. Bench Press (repetition max)
f. Max Pull-ups
g. 3, 300 yd Shuttles - all 3 have to be w/in 90% of their best time and their first shuttle must beat their previous best time.  They get 2:00 rest b/w shuttles.  This test is only performed in the pre-season.  One time is taken in the post-season; this is the time that must be beaten.

There has been a lot of debate about the squat and single leg training.  In your opinion, should basketball players squat? Year Round? Only Summer? Never?

I'm a big believer that basketball athletes should not perform bilateral squatting movements with a large degree of loading.  The things that make good basketball players (long limbs, long torsos) don't make for great squatters.  They also don't have the greatest amount of dorsiflexion which will impair the squat pattern. 

I think basketball athletes can perform isometric squats, bodyweight squats and squats with DB's, but am not a believer that they have to squat with a bar to get strong.  I've had my basketball athletes perform single leg training as their primary means of strength development since 2004 and have had great success while improving strength, power and minimizing lower body injuries. 

What's the point in only squatting for a certain part of the year? That's like saying you should only shoot and dribble in-season.  Squatting is a movement pattern and skill that needs to be practiced continuously; I think if you choose to load the pattern, you need to continue to perform the movement so you don't lose it.  I choose to bodyweight squat or perform isometrics and this is how we help to maintain this movement. 
I'm sure people will disagree, but this is what works for me and that's why we can all learn from each other.

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Brendon Ziegler

everything basketball, vertical jump training
 

Brendon Ziegler 

How and why did you get into the field of strength and conditioning?
After watching a strength and conditioning coach give a demonstration on a power clean my freshman year of high school I always knew this was the profession for me!

Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most? Influence your training philosophy? What have you learned from them that you can you share?
Al Vermeil, Erik Helland and Jeff Macy had profound impact while I was an intern with the Bulls.  The helped me create a great foundation to base my training philosophy on.  They taught me the importance of contiunuing education.  Teaching the athletes using a slow progressive approach to exercise progression, loading etc has been an extremely valuable tool they have given me.  The very detailed coaching style they passed to me has been invaluable.

Name 3-5 books every basketball strength and conditioning coach should have in their library.
Supertraining, Tipping Point, The Trigger Therapy Workbook


What is the last book you read and why?
The last book I read was What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I enjoy reading Gladwell's work, I was introduced to his writing by one of our Assistant Basketball Coaches, I was immediately hooked.  He has the ability to make sociology and our interpersonal relationships interesting.  Most of that stuff bores me to death, but he does make it entertaining.  I believe that most strength & conditioning coaches could stand some improvement in this area, including myself.

Generally speaking, what is your philosophy for training a basketball player? How does it differ from other sport athletes?
We train our basketball athletes by first correcting any major movement or postural flaws.  From there we build off a great work capacity base built through a foundation of muscular endurance work, med ball throws etc.  After technical mastery of the basic lifting, running and  jumping progressions we introduce load and complexity.  We have a standard of norms we want our players to hit for every phase of training.  They know where they are at and where they need to be.  The way the approach is different than other sports is the inclusion of basketball agility drills, and conditioning that is geared toward basketball. 

What has been the biggest mistake you made as a coach when training a player?
I failed early on in my career to develop a great relationship with my athletes.  I don't know who coined the term "Rules without relationships equals rebellion,"  but I think they were pretty close.  I never got to rebellion, but I think I was close a few times.

How has your training philosophy changed in the last 3-5 years?
I have a group of basketball players right now whom I am able to coach more on feel.  If they come in and tell me they don't feel good I am not afraid to back off intensity in all areas.  I am also more willing to let athletes bump their intensity up depending on how they feel.  3-5 years ago I would be very strict with the intensity and volume of my periodization.  I have learn to let go and let the athletes have more say in their training.  I have seen nothing but great results, healthier, stronger athletes.

For interns, volunteer coaches, graduate assistances, etc. inspiring to be basketball strength coaches, what advice would you give?
Vern Gambetta said it best when he said "It is easy to fatigue athletes, hard to train them."  Know the difference, avoid the former, strive for the latter.
 
 

What are the three (3) biggest mistakes a basketball player makes when it comes to strength and conditioning?
1.Not enough strength work
2. Not enough pulling work
3. Too many arm exercises!

What are the top three (3) training tips you would give to a basketball athlete beginning a strength and conditioning program?
1. Find someone who knows how to train basketball athletes and work with them.
2. Be Patient, be technically and mechanically sound before progressing in intensity and complexity.
3. Listen to your body, adjust daily activities accordingly

What is your training philosophy regarding in-season training? Off-season training? Pre-season training?
During the in-season we still train fairly heavy.  We will quickly adjust the load depending on how athletes feel.  We keep the volume relatively low but we keep the intensity moderate.  We concentrate more on pulling, they really need to keep up on pulling movements for keeping posture.  Off-season we use three phases: work capacity, strength, and strength/speed.  The athletes most master each phase before moving on.  This is exactly the way Al Vermeil did it.  During the Pre-season we introduce more conditioning, we keep the lifting and jumping fairly constant.  We do more shuttles, basketball agility drills, 110m tempo runs etc.

What areas do you address for those players that don't play significant minutes during the in-season?
In college we don't have as many games as they do in the pros.  Therefore they practice just as much as the guys who play lots of minutes, maybe even more.  So I don't add additional workouts very often for these guys.  I'd rather save them for increased intensity during the sessions of lifting we do have and greater practice intensity.  I would rather them spend time during the season working on their skill.  We will hammer out the physical qualities in the off-season.

What is your philosophy on basketball conditioning?  Some sport coaches believe in long distance training to improve basketball specific endurance?  What is your opinion?
Really the only steady state work will do is on the bike.  We do not run anything over 400m at a time.  Long distance running does not suit long levered athletes.  The bones in the foot and lower leg are just too long to handle a ton of distance.  Additionally it does not suit the metabolic demands of the sport and detracts from improving strength and power.  I would first rather make the athletes more mechanically efficient and stronger (per bodyweight), which leads to a lowered metabolic  demand, and then introduce conditioning.  Mostly we do med ball circuits, slide board, tempo runs, shuttles, agility circuits etc.

What are some of the biggest myths that still surround strength training and the basketball athlete?
You need to jump 200+ times a day.  That volume might suit you for a week or two.

Should female basketball players train differently than male players?
No.  although I think a lot of the female basketball players I see are very strength deficient.  They might need more pure strength work then men.  Also be aware that females might need to be backed down based on their bodily needs.

What assessments or evaluations do you use with your players during pre-season? Summer months?
I have gotten away from movement screening the athletes,  I used to do it with everyone.  But I realized without video taping, or having some quantifiable data it would be too subjective.  They do go through a comprehensive medical evaluation every year. When we first start warming up these players for the first time we keep an eye on ankle flexibility (dorsiflexion, pronation, supination), Hip mobility (Hip extension, Internal/external rotation), lumbar integrity, thoracic mobility, should mobility etc.  These qualities are judged every minute of every day through great coaching and exercise selection.  It would be nice to compare movement screens to gauge improvement.  We test counter movement vertical jump, standing triple jump, ground reaction time between 30" hurdles, 20 Yard sprint, 84kg bench press, pull-ups and 180 yard shuttle test that we got form Roy Williams and Jonas Sahration.  We never really test strength numbers, but we keep a running tally every week of Snatch,  Cleans, Push Press, Front Squat, RDL, Liftoffs, Military Press.  We compare these numbers to their bodyweight strength norms.

Are the training requirements for a post player different than a perimeter player? How so?
We adjust our training norms, the training goals for our players to hit, based on position and bodyweight, not height.  For example a #1 is required to jump a 32" CMVJ on a just jump mat., a #5 is required to hit 26".

What are some of the challenges you experience when training a red-shirt player?
They are red shirting for a reason,  Usually they are injured coming out of high school, academically ineligible, lack skill or lack physical abilities.  All of which will play into designing the training program.  They all carry different challenges.

There has been a lot of debate about the squat and single leg training.  In your opinion, should basketball players squat? Year round? Only summer? Never?
Absolutes are never good when designing training programs..  I try to never rule out an exercise.   I will generally front squat my players heavy year round.  I will also include single leg work and TONS of pulling movements.

Name some strength training gimmicks that basketball players and coaches should avoid?
Stay away from the Verti-max! it is expensive and ineffective.  I don't like trap bars, because they remove the anterior pull that a bar creates which results in such great thoracic area spinal erector strength.  I am also not a big fan of the speed ladder.  I don't really see that it greatly improves agility, and creates many improper leg movement patterns.

What is the best way to develop lateral speed in basketball? Agility? First step quickness?
Very loaded question, but in short.  Improve the qualities that are lacking for most it is strength, for others elastic reactive ability, for others it is improvement of motor pattern.  For some it could even be flexibility.  So it really depends, sorry for the vague answer.
 
Players love to compete whether it's on the court or in the weight room.  How do you create a competitive environment in the weight room?
I want the athletes to better themselves.  We shoot for personal records, we don't have team records.  Every time an athletes hits a PR or norm goal for the first time they are acknowledged.  If they are lacking proficiency, their teammates will let them know about it.

What methods do you use to develop explosive power?  What are your thoughts for using the Olympic lifts in your training?
Olympic lifts are the best exercises for developing power, so obviously I am in favor of them.  We use the traditional lifts along with many of the auxiliary lifts.

How do you address nutrition with your players?
If they are having trouble with energy demands or body weight we start with a food journal.  From there we will make adjustments depending on the athlete's likes and dislikes.  We are not overly scientific in this area, we keep things very simple and basic.

What injury prevention strategies do you implement with your athletes?
Injury prevention is just a factor of sound training and progression.  This could be a 100 page article, but simply put it is recognizing deficiencies in strength, flexibility, proprioception, postural imbalances and movement patterns.  Creating a program that addresses these issues is important.  I have found that strengthening players with sound movements accounts for 80% the problems.

What training advice would you give to a high school basketball player seeking to improve their strength and power?
Seek a qualified professional,  I have been doing this as my job for a while and some days I am not sure what I am doing.

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