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.