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.