Articles & Resources

The Hip Hinge: The Best Exercise You're Not Teaching In Your Rehabilitation Program

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Apr 30, 2011 2:33:00 PM


By Art Horne

It’s easy to get athletes and patients 80% -90% better after injury or surgery.  It’s the last 10-20% that sets great rehabilitation specialists apart from their peers.

One of the most overlooked and underappreciated exercises regardless of the type of injury rehabilitation program you’re working with is the Hip Hinge.  Teaching it, Grooving it, and then Challenging it under load is rarely seen in most athletic training rooms and physical therapy centers, yet it’s importance in the overall success of your rehab program is paramount.  Whether you’re dealing with a low back pain patient or any myriad of lower extremity pathologies, a properly executed hip hinge pattern will ensure not only a smooth transition from rehab to performance but also appropriately challenges your patients during their rehabilitation program with a safe and progressive Ground Based-Function Based exercise.

Take the low back pain patient for example.  As Stuart McGill makes mention to, most LBP patients utilize their backs entirely too much during simple everyday tasks such as tying their shoes, picking up objects from the floor and sitting and rising from chairs.  By teaching and enabling your patients to accomplish these tasks through a safely executed hip hinge pattern, you’ll affectively be sparing their backs during ADL’s and alleviating perhaps hundreds of subsequent flexion moments throughout the day.   By putting these stresses into the hips instead of the low back will enable your patients the opportunity to actually perform strengthening exercises with you during their office/athletic training room visit instead of constantly dealing with pain caused by faulty movement patterns.

No amount of moist heat packs and massage can make up for poor daily back hygiene.

In the case of the anterior knee pain patient, hip hinging allows them an opportunity to load their posterior chain including the glutes and hamstrings (both often neglected since you can’t see them while looking in the mirror) while avoiding loading an already overloaded quadriceps group.  Stronger posterior chain muscles equates to less knee pain, not to mention a considerable performance enhancement boost when it comes to jumping and sprinting.

When it comes right down to it, all athletes and patients should be able to separate their hips from their back in both a 2-legged and single leg stance.  Whether its knee, hip or other LE injury pain, athletic trainers, physical therapists or performance coaches should be able to look at this movement pattern and address any concerns IN ADDITION to their traditional rehab program.  Now it’s up to you to teach them!

How do I start?

The Hip hinge pattern can be easily taught, standardized and grooved with a stick series.





Teaching the Stick Series:

1. Take any stick, PVC pipe, wood dowel, or broom stick and place along their spine.  Be sure to keep the stick in contact with three points (head, back and butt crack) throughout entire movement.
2. Reach butt backwards; knees should have slight bend.
3. Start with two feet on ground, progress to single leg stance.
4. This is not a squat pattern! Movement should be through the hips – not a knee dominant movement
5. Maintain a packed neck throughout the series(c-spine in-line with sternum throughout movement).  ** This position should also be taught and maintained during over exercises such as the Bird-Dog, but that’s for another post.
6. Be sure to maintain strict form and three points of contact at all times.
7. **While the stick is on the back of the athlete/patient, we continue with a lunge pattern (as shown in the video) which helps solidify their spine position and teaches them to drive through their front foot but is not necessary if you’re only looking to work on the hip hinge pattern.

This Kid Needs Help

Because many of your athletes and patients have never used this hinging strategy before, many will struggle to perform this task at first. Below are three teaching points to correct the most common mistakes while learning the hip hinge.

1. Not reaching back: Many patients will not seek to reach backwards maximally with their hips.  Have them stand one foot away from the wall with the stick on their back and reach backwards until they touch the wall behind them. Once they’ve achieved success with a number of repetitions. Slowly inch them forward and repeat until you’ve found a distance and pattern that enables them to maximally flex their hips while maintaining strict form. 




2. Athlete squats instead of hinging: As I previously mentioned, many athletes are unfamiliar with this movement and seek out what they know best.  And in this case it’s a knee or quad dominant movement pattern.  Stand beside your patient and place your hands or a mat in front of their knees and ask them to perform the motion without touching their knees to your hand.



3. Patient still can’t separate hips from lumbar spine: stand to the front of your patient and while attempting to hinge backwards place fingertips in the creases of their hip prompting them to push their hips backwards towards the wall.



Time for a challenge


After you’ve grooved this pattern again and again and again, it’s time to challenge the pattern under a load.  This can be accomplished through the:  “Wall Touch – Hip Hinge with KB Pick Up/Put Downs”

1. As before, start your athlete one foot away from a wall (maybe just less in beginners) and have them reach back towards the wall with their butt.
2. Maintain three points of contact with the stick on their head, back and butt crack.
3. Remember: This is not a squat pattern – first motion should be back towards the wall and not downwards.
4. Inch outwards and continue to repeat until distance from wall is appropriate for this patient. Once perfected groove and challenge pattern with kettle bell (KB).
5. Place KB between legs but behind heels. Hip Hinge while reaching down with elbows tightly placed against the rib cage.
6. When grabbing the KB,“crush the handle with your grip”,  This will pack your shoulders and engage the lats ensuring a strong back position.
7. Instruct your athlete to stand up as if they have a thousand pounds on the top of their head and they’re pushing it straight up.  Finish the movement by squeezing glutes at the end.
8. Beginning athletes may have to prop the KB up on small platform as some will not be able to reach the KB initially.  Progress exercise by keeping the KB weight the same and continue to peel away layers from under the KB until KB is on the floor.  In the case of a super tall athlete or a patient who is lacking hip mobility, the KB may never get to the ground and thus progression of exercise will include increasing KB weight while maintaining starting height.




Once your athlete has perfected this exercise it’s time to prepare them for high end performance.  Remember: never exchange more weight or repetitions for a decrease in technique.  Demand perfect form each and every rep.

Progression of Two-Leg Hip Hinge with KB includes:

1. Two hand – one KB
2. One hand – one KB
3. Two hand – two KB


Once you’ve mastered the 2-leg hip hinge, a single leg stance progression is appropriate, and a must for any high level athlete but also important for any low back pain patient since this pattern (golf tee pick up) has a very low compressive load on the spine and a key component in every low back pain rehabilitation.
Continue to groove this pattern then challenge under load with the “Single Leg (SL) Romanian Deadlift (RDL) KB Pick-Up – Put Downs”.




1. Continue to groove this motion with Stick Series as described above.

Progression of the Single-Leg Hip Hinge includes:

1. Two hands – two KB
2. One hand (opposite) – one KB
3. Athlete may need to start with KB’s on boxes or mats as before in order to get down with good technique.  Do not rush this movement.
4. ** Instead of doing 1 set of 8 reps think of doing 8 sets of 1 rep.  This will ensure that each repetition is perfect and not rushed through.

Topics: Art Horne, Health & Wellness

Pushing The Limits With The Push-Up by Art Horne

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Apr 30, 2011 10:36:00 AM

by Art Horne


I'm a sucker for anything involving self improvement - whether it's nutritional information, strength training, promoting yourself in the workplace and even creating new ideas or improving upon existing practices.  So it's no surprise that I've been watching Shark Tank on ABC where small business owners and inventors pitch mulit-million business moguls  their trade in hopes of making 'the next big thing". 

That all ended recently when I saw a piece of exercise equipment designed to make the push-up easier.  Yes, I said easier.



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Really? Do we really need a machine to make the push-up easier?



basketball resources



Instead of lowering the bar on exercises, let's make the exercise realistic, attainable and without the aid of an expense piece of equipment. 

Gravity too much?

How about starting by doing push-ups with your hands on a table instead of the ground? What about starting with an isometric hold or eccentric push-ups?

Recently Ray Eady from the University of Wisconsin posted probably the best Push-Up Progression I've ever seen and a must read for anyone working with athletes that need some additional upper body strength.  So your athlete's can't do a good push-up? No big deal - Learn how to achieve push-up success by reading Ray Eady's Push-Up Progression.

See Ray talk at this year's BSMPG Basketball conference June 3/4th as he discusses the use of isometrics to improve strength and speed in the basketball athlete.   

Want to make push-ups easier? Stop giving them a way out and start giving them an appropriate exercise progression which leads to real world strength that translates to on-court success.


basketball resources

Topics: Basketball Related, Art Horne

The Home Stretch by Art Horne

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 31, 2011 9:04:00 PM



Click HERE to read "The Home Stretch" written by Art Horne and featured in Dime Magazine (pg. 34-37)



Topics: Art Horne, Health & Wellness

Your Season Is Over. Now What?

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 26, 2011 9:03:00 AM

by Art Horne

So your basketball season ended earlier than you had wished.

Hey, there’s always next year right?

But what makes you think that next year will end any different than this year?  Sure, there’s always that touted incoming freshman that everyone is talking about, or that transfer from another school that is sure to help your team make that championship run.  But freshman always take time to mature and transfers have to sit out for a year per NCAA rules. So it looks like next year starts with you – and next year starts now!

In Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated, he points to one of the greatest NFL players of all time as an example of an athlete that overcame a lack of “talent” (many would argue that Rice was clearly the most talented wide receivers of all time) by simply outworking his opponents in the off-season.


basketball resources    basketball resources

So what made Jerry Rice so good?

1. He spent very little time playing football

a. “Of all of the work Rice did to make himself a great player, practically none of it was playing football games.” (pg. 54)  It’s clear once you compare the amount of time in a game, and then more closely at the amount of time that Rice spent on the field that the time there paled in comparison to his other football “related” activities.  So what does Jerry Rice and football have to do with hoops?

b. Try this on for size – many athletes always look to play as an means to improve their game, but how many shots do you get during a summer pick-up game vs. time with a teammate (coaches can’t be with players in the summer) working on your left-hand hook shot?  You could probably count on one hand the number of times in an afternoon of summer pick-up games that you were able to execute a particular shot.  In contrast, a specific shot can be practiced and rehearsed over and over in preparation for real time execution.

c. Pick-up games are required? Great – stop using them to run slow, argue and BS – use it as your summer conditioning and insist that you guard the opposing team’s best player each and every time.  Defensive work is probably the one skill that is hardest to do (and probably impossible) on your own.  Use this time with others to work on skills that REQUIRE others, and dedicate the majority of your other free time to individual skill development.

2. He designed his practice to work on his specific needs

a. “He (Rice) had to run precise patterns; he had to evade the defenders, sometimes two or three, who were assigned to cover him; he had to outjump them to catch the ball and outmuscle them when they tried to strip it away; then he had to outrun tacklers. So he focused his practice work on exactly those requirements.” (pg. 55)

b. Most athletes won’t admit that they are not good at a particular skill.  It was the ref or some other outside force that kept the ball from dropping in the hoop, time and time and time again.  Before working on those specific skills players must be brutally honest with themselves and admit that they don’t have a complete skill set to compete at the highest level.  Sure you may be able to windmill dunk or you have a killer back-to-the-basket post move, but is your skill set complete or evolved to the point where you can make the leap to the next level?

c. A quick look at your shooting percentage at the end of the basketball season will clearly demonstrate whether you have earned the right to shoot from beyond the arc.  Still think you have what it takes to play in the NBA? Grab two rebounders and shoot uncontested 3-pointers up to a hundred – if you didn’t make 75 then you need to swallow your pride, find a coach and ask him how you can improve you stroke.  NBA 2-guards make 75/100 and elite shooters like Ray Allen make 80-85.


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d. You’d have to play an entire days worth of pick-up games before you have an opportunity to make 75 3-pointers – very little time should be dedicated to actually playing the game if you are looking to improve a specific skill.

3. While supported by others, he did much of the work on his own

a. The collegiate basketball season starts Oct 15th with official practices and ends with the national championship the first week of April (if you’re lucky). That leaves 7 months of individual work that can be accomplished before team practices begin again.  More than half the year can be dedicated to individual work and skill development.

4. It wasn’t fun

a. Basketball athletes rarely ever work on skills that they’re not good at simply because failure really isn’t that much fun. Imagine being a decent shooter, say 35% from three-land?  It’s not bad, but to make it to the next level a minor tweak or change may be necessary to get your percentage above the 40% range.  So you make a few adjustments and begin shooting from beyond the arc with your new and improved shooting technique – do you think you’ll shoot better or worse for the first week?

The answer is worse.

Not to mention now going through this process during a “friendly” game of pick-up with your boys reminding you that you missed again your last trip down the court.

b. Rarely will athletes work through this “learning” period, especially when they’ve experienced “success” with their previous form.  If you’re going to work on a skill that you’re not great at you must first be prepared for failure – lock in and accept that it won’t be fun this summer (fun comes next season when you’re making it rain from beyond the arc!)

So looking at just one football star clearly doesn’t constitute a scientific study of any kind, and still the question remains, why are some people simply more successful at sports than others, or at any skill for that matter?

Consider a study conducted in the early nineties examining a music academy in Berlin to discover why some violinist were better than others.

The Role Of Deliberate Practice In the Acquisition of Expert Performance by Ericsson, Krampe and Tesch-Romer. Psychological Review. 1993, Vol. 100. No. 3. 363-406.


basketball resources

Summary points:

1. Practice Makes Perfect: When asked to rate the relevance of music-related activities and non-music-related activities to their progress towards becoming the very best, solitary practice was far and away number one.

2. The More The Merrier: Although they all knew that this practice was essential, they didn’t all do it.  The two top groups, (the best and the better violinists) practiced by themselves about 24 hours a week on average. The third group (the good violinists) practiced by themselves only 9 hours a week.

3. Solitary Practice Is Essential: Each violinist recognized that the most important activity, the solitary practice was neither easy nor fun!

“When they rated activities by effort required, solo practice ranked way harder than playing music for fun, alone or with others, and harder than even the most effortful everyday activity, child care.  As for pleasure, practice ranked far below playing for fun and even below formal group performance, which you might reasonably guess would be the most stressful and least fun activity.”

4. No Outside Help Needed:  Although solo practice does not require outside help – no coach or instructor is needed – and thus completely in the control of the individual and almost limitless, only those that chose to practice more became excellent at their skill.

“Solo practice is unusual among music-related activities in that it’s largely within the individual’s control.   Most other activities – taking lessons, attending classes, giving performances – require other people’s involvement and are therefore constrained.  But with 168 hours in a week, a person can practice by himself or herself just about without limit.  In fact, no one in the study came anywhere near spending every available hour on practice.
So all the violinists understood that practicing by themselves was the most important thing they could do to get better. Though they didn’t consider it easy or fun, they all had virtually unlimited time in which to do it. On those dimensions, they were all the same. The difference was that some chose to practice more, and those violinists were a great deal better.” P. 59


As much as you’d like to believe it, practice, deliberate and focused practice isn’t much fun.  You’ll experience failure many more times than success if you are truly working on skills that need improving.  Whether it was Jerry Rice running stadium stairs or world class violinists practicing for hours on end, both learned to love the process of getting better and realized that failure in the moment (games or recitals) when it matters the most, is far less fun than any amount of practice.

“There are two pains in life, the pain of preparation and the pain of regret.”


basketball resources


Register now for our Conference on June 3-4th, 2011.  Seats are limited!athletic training resources

Topics: Basketball Related, Art Horne

Half-Time Preparation - What Do You Do?

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Feb 27, 2011 2:53:00 PM

Recently I was asked about what to do during halftime to get the guys prepared for the 2nd half of play.  Currently I don’t do anything (stretching/warmup) as a team or for an individual unless they ask or there is evidence that something isn’t right.  We do some half-ass layup lines with 8 guys, while 4 players wait to be personally stretched by our AT for the 2nd or 3rd time....

Prior to the game we shoot from the 90-60 minute mark and stretch at the 30 minute mark for 5-6 minutes at a good pace.  The rest of the time is to get shots up etc. 

My initial thought is to continue with our layup lines and possibly a more structured shooting drill.  I’ve thought about a team stretch but at this point, neurologically, they’re either turned on or not.  This would be our 3rd or 4TH STRETCH OF THE DAY if you include shoot-around!!!!



This is a good question and I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.  It really depends on your situation and what the head coach will ALLOW you to do.  One things for sure, the outcome and performance by your team in the 1st half will probably determine what you may be able to do with the team during half-time (unlike the pre-game movement prep which is typically a structured routine).  If you are up by 10-20pts, you may be able to take the team through a “structured” movement/stretching routine (because the half-time talk may not be as long and psychologically, the head coach and players are feeling good).  However, If you are losing by 10-20pts, you may only get 2 minutes and the coaches and players may want to do some quick “on-court” shooting because their focus is strictly on the game and executing their on-court strategy. 

Personally, I would rather have my players especially the starters go through some “position specific” on-court movement/shooting drills (regardless of the available time).  I want their focus to be strictly on the game and competing (personally, I don’t want to be a distraction).  If players have individual needs then myself and the athletic trainer will address those issues.


Ray Eady

University of Wisconsin





Topics: Basketball Related, Art Horne

Using Nitric Oxide To Treat Tendinopathy by Art Horne

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Feb 6, 2011 8:45:00 AM

A review of:

Using nitric oxide to treat tendinopathy. George A C Murrell. Br J Sports Med 2007 41: 227-231

By Art Horne


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Below are a few points of emphasis worth noting when discussing this potentially helpful treatment option with your team physician and care group in regards to your basketball athlete and their patellar tendinopathy.  Of course, treating the actual source of the patellar pain (hips, lack of ankle dorsiflexion, etc) is always preferred, many troublesome cases require some additional treatment approaches for athletes to get over the hump and back to high level jumping and basketball activities.  Clinicians should read both this article in addition to other research articles related to the use of Nitric Oxide in the treatment of tendinopathy prior to considering this as part of your treatment protocol.

Let’s start at the end with the discussion:


“NO is important to tendon healing.  All three isoforms of NOS, the enzyme that produces NO, are expressed by fibroblasts during tendon healing.  Our data in animal studies, cell culture and clinical trails support the hypothesis that NO enhances extracellalar matrix synthesis and results in injured tendons having better material and mechanical properties – that is, the healing tendons are stronger on a per unit area basis than those not exposed to additional NO.  The clinical trials show that delivering NO via a patch enhances the clinical recovery of tendinopathy, which is manifested by a reduction in pain, an increase in range of motion and an increase in strength.”

In the three trials outlined below, each used a commercially available NO delivery system (glyceryl trinitrate (GTN).   “NO is important for the volume of tissue synthesized during tendon healing.  NO is likely to be important in a number of processes, including local blood flow and host defense.”

“The NO group had less tenderness and could perform more work and had greater power on the Orthopaedic Research Institute-Ankle Strength Testing System testing.  The changes were most apparent at week 24.  In all, 81% of patients receiving GTN patches were asymptomatic in activities of daily living at 6 months compared with 60% of patients with tendon rehabilitation alone”

“The NO (GTN) group performed significantly better on hop testing and could generate more peak force at week 24. In all, 78% of patients receiving GTN patches were asymptomatic for activities of daily living at 6 months compared with 49% of patients with tendon rehabilitation alone.”

“This trial produced the most significant effects. The NO group had significantly reduced shoulder pain with activity and at night, improved range of motion in abduction, forward flexion and external rotation, and improved power in abduction, external rotation, subscapularis and supraspinatus.  The changes in supraspinatus power were the most dramatic, and were significant at 6 weeks. In all, 46% of patients receiving GTN patches were asymptomatic for activities of daily living at 6 months compared to 24% of patients with tendon rehabilitation alone.

Points to consider and discuss with your care team:
• Although the treatment of knee pain and specifically patellar tendinopathy was not examined in this study, it may be a worthwhile treatment option in the future.
• It is important to note that in both the tennis elbow and Achilles tendinopathy that the most apparent results were noted at week 24.
• With that said, a treatment program involving Nitric Oxide would still require other treatment options in order to alleviate pain short-term.
• Patients should be advised that they may experience headaches while using the patches and blood pressure should be monitored for the first few days to ensure no adverse effects.
• For additional resources on Knee Pain and the Basketball athlete visit these links:

Treating Anterior Knee Pain by Professor Paul Canavan

Treating Anterior Knee Pain In The Basketball Athlete Part I by Art Horne

Treating Anterior Knee Pain In The Basketball Athlete Part II by Art Horne

Topics: Art Horne, Health & Wellness

Squatting The Basketball Athlete

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 30, 2011 8:57:00 AM

By Art Horne, MEd, ATC, CSCS

This past week Mike Reinhold posted some thoughts on Squat Technique and Back Extensor Muscle Activity .  His article got me thinking about squatting and the basketball athlete.  Coming from Boston University and being heavily influenced by Glenn Harris, who does an excellent job with his guys there along with Mike Boyle who continues to train the ice hockey team, I preached the importance of the front squat to the basketball community and anyone that would listen at Northeastern for probably my first six years.  Although Reinhold’s article focuses on erector spinae muscle activation primarily, I think it’s also worth noting the positives and negatives of each squat variation as it relates to the tall guys, especially incoming freshmen.

Like I said, for almost my first six years working with basketball we worked on front squatting, and front squatting only – the following was my defense:

• It’s the finish position for the clean (even though I never taught or trained this movement) and therefore teaches the athlete this position prior to actually encountering it under a moving load.
• Once technique failed either at the end of a set or during testing the athlete could simply dump the weight and avoid the dreadful “good morning” posture commonly seen with the back squat under heavy loads, thereby saving their back (whether this was the case or not, back pain cases within our team steadily declined to almost zero as each year passed).
• Guys with long tibias and femurs just seemed to be able to sit deep and with great form and little coaching.  It was simply an easier movement to teach, coach and succeed with. Maybe because the front squat is a little bit more quad dominant and therefore the basketball athlete seems to be more at home and comfortable while performing this movement.
• Nothing looks more like a baby squat than a front squat – no, back squats don’t look quite the same – close – but not quite


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Front Squats sound good right?

Some points you may want to consider in favor of the back squat over the front squat for the basketball athlete:

• As Mike Reinhold mentioned, erector spinae  is increased in with the front squat - this might be ok if you're look to develop overall erector spinae strength, but not ok in novice lifters or athletes with previous low back pain.
• As I mentioned earlier, most basketball athletes, ok, all basketball athletes are quad dominant and with this usually comes some sort of anterior knee pain, most notably patellar tendinopathy, or good ol’ fashion “jumpers knee”.  As Charlie Weingroff mentioned at the Basketball Symposium last year, maintaining a vertical tibia helps put the stress on the glutes and takes it off the knees – which for the basketball athlete and all knee pain victims across the country is a good thing.  Although a true vertical tibia is almost impossible during squatting, and rarely the position during any incredible athletic event,  getting closer to vertical than not certainly reduces the reports of knee pain during squatting activity and I consider that a good thing – this of course is more easily achieved through the back squat or box squat than the front squat.
• As loads progressed with the front squat, and specifically with incoming athletes, the load was limited by the amount of strength their upper body could hold, and not their lower extremity.  Imagine doing chin-ups and your grip failing before your back was able to benefit from the exercise. This is exactly what ended up happening with some of our athletes. Their erector strength and overall upper body simply couldn’t handle the loads and thus missed out on the intended training effect for the lower extremity.
• As each year passed, and a new version of the Iphone and Madden NFL football was released, our basketball athlete's posture declined at a most painful rate and putting someone under the bar in a bad loaded posture started to look worse and worse with the front squat.  At least with the back squat, so long as they had normal shoulder mobility, athletes were automatically placed in what I would consider a much more favorable posture (and thoracic position) under load.
• Lastly, and probably most importantly, guys rarely experienced glute soreness with the front squat.  We all know glutes are King and if I wanted to really and truly establish a great training base while also avoiding the potential of exacerbating existing knee pain – back squatting was going to have to be introduced.

Ultimately, this debate lead me to following Dr. Stu McGill around one conference until he was kind enough to answer the following question, “Which is better for BASKETBALL ATHLETES, front or back squat.”

“In terms of back health, it has to be the back squat,” Stu responded.

He didn’t really answer my question and I didn’t get around to pestering him as to why that day, but since then and through corresponding with him, I would imagine one of his main points is the opportunity to “bend the bar” over your back and engage and utilize the large lats as a lumbar stabilizer under heavy loads.  Something you simply can’t do with the front squat.

I still don’t have an answer as to what squat technique is better for the BASKETBALL ATHLETE. Some tall guys absolutely crush the front and the back squat, while others can barely stand up against a stiff breeze.  Whichever one you decide to go with keep in mind some general guidelines that I go by:

1. Don’t start kids off wearing belts to squat. If they can’t handle loads without the belt that means they can’t handle the load. Max testing – maybe. All other times leave the belts hanging up in the corner.

2. Previous back injury : back squat only, and probably with a belt if you squat at all – the risk-reward might just not be there. Talk to all parties involved in the care of the athlete when making this decision.

3. Ongoing knee pain: back squat and probably squat to a box and hammer vertical tibia position.

4. Super tall femurs – might just be better at the front squat.  It doesn't mean they shouldn't back squat, but they may have to squat to a box.

5. Freshmen – great opportunity to teach both.  Chances are they’ve never been taught, and if they were it was bad. Take the time and groove the crap out of each pattern and set them up to be successful studs come their junior and senior years.  Everyone wants success right away, but squatting over the course of a college career works much better if you boil the frog.

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Topics: Art Horne, Strength Training

Winter / Exam Break - How Is Your Training Changing?

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 16, 2011 5:20:00 PM

Many strength coaches utilize the exam "break" as an opportunity to fit in extra lifts and training sessions for their basketball teams.  At the same time, many basketball coaches utilize this time for additonal film study, shooting drills and prolonged practices since their athletes are not taking classes. 

Is the additional "stress" of exams, late night studying along with extra training and court work counterproductive?
How are you managing the extra time over exam break with your athletes?



During the break, you have to pick your poison.  As the saying goes, “you can’t ride two horses with one ass”.  Surprisingly, as a staff (and this is probably unusual for most college basketball programs), we’ll do less on-court activity (forty minute maximum and mostly skill work) and more off-court activity (weight training, non-impact “light/tempo” bike work, corrective exercises, therapeutic work, etc.).  I work mostly with female basketball players and the physical attribute that a collegiate female player needs more than any other it’s strength.  If you can continue to improve their strength level throughout the year then you can continue to enhance their athleticism and reduce the incidence of on-court related injuries. In a nutshell, the break gives us the advantage and opportunity to do more strength/movement work (something that is difficult to do throughout the competitive season in my opinion).  We want our players to be strong and healthy prior to our Big Ten conference schedule which is grueling.  In addition, the break allows our redshirt and freshmen players who play limited minutes (and who are physically underdeveloped) more opportunities to improve their strength level as well.

Ray Eady
University of Wisconsin



Besides changing each year, the only consistent philosophy that I have stuck to over the Christmas break is to not bury our athletes under the bar.  When I was younger, I thought this was a good opportunity to throw in extra training sessions or increase the volume or intensity or sometimes both (yes, I was young) during this time since our athletes were no longer going to classes and “only” taking exams and thus had ample time to recover.  Needless to say, I forgot that our athletes were actually student-athletes and the “stress” of studying and preparing for exams placed a tremendous physiological stress load on them which made additional productive training sessions almost impossible.  For the few guys that had exams finished prior to the actual exam week we will provide opportunities to work on individual skill development and/or additional training sessions to address specific weaknesses and not just to get a “work out” in (for some guys this means also addressing nagging injuries in multiple treatment sessions).  For the last two seasons we have played in a holiday tournament (Hawaii and Mexico) followed by another tournament right after, then directly into league play. The additional commercial travel after exam week followed by 3 games in 3 days, travel some more, then 2 games in 2 nights followed again by 3 league games in 5 days makes recovery our primary focus during this time.  When we travelled with a squad of 15 athletes last year, the individual load in practice was much less than the volume incurred this year with only 11 athletes practicing and at sometimes only 10 which meant no breaks for most of the guys during each and every practice. 

Art Horne, MEd, ATC, CSCS
Northeastern University


I am in a unique situation here at one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, as a result these kids are under amazing pressure from not only an athletic standpoint but from an academic one too.  When they say they have been up all night studying, they are telling the truth. It is super tough for me as my head coach also demands a ton from them on the court and pushes them pretty hard at all times.  Last year (my first in the college setting) I saw this 2 week break from games, Stanford has a rule that no games finals week and the week before, as a time to really get after it and push them a bit more in the weight room.  It completely backfired b/c our coach had the same mind set and these kids were just getting run into the ground.  We came out of the break and our guys started to breakdown just after the New Year.  Minor injuries mounted and we had a rash of stress fx’s. Now I know these take time to build but I don’t think the added work we did helped the situation This year I completely changed my mindset and approach for this break. I eased up in the weight room focused on more individual corrective work, worked on things that had potentially become issues due to the mounting # of practices and games.  I also brought in a yoga instructor (something I have used in the off-season before) to do a team session. This was more from a relaxation standpoint.  I think that this year backing off made it a bit easier on my guys to not only get thru finals but also our coaches practices over that time.   We’ll see if the strategy will help us start off the Pac-10 season with a little more pep in our step….
Keith D’Amelio,  MS, ATC, CSCS, PES, CES
Stanford University Men’s Basketball


Last May I looked at our schedule and planned our training year with an increase in volume and intensity during the so called "break".  We had a 10-day period between games and the opponents during the period in most years would be considered lesser opponents. 

Between May and December a number of things transpired that changed our "working of the plan"
1) We didn't add 2 more walk-ons in the pre-season so our main guys (12 scholarship+1 walk-on) were getting considerably more repetitions in practice than I predicted.
2) We had some misfortune or poor preparation(my fault) and had some injuries that once again added more overall physiological load to the student-athletes who were healthy and practicing.
3) I forgot how demanding academically this institution is.  If you subscribe to Hans Seyle's work/theory you accept that stress is stress wether it be physical or psychological.  Our athletes were really trying to be STUDENT-athletes. 

So going into the break I scrapped the Accumulation and Intensification microcyles that I originally wrote-in and focused more on reduction in volume in our primary lifts and instituted more targeted corrective exercise for specific athletes.  I cut out most of the assistance exercises and replaced them with the corrective. I didn't compromise the targeted or relative intensity in the training session in the primary lifts, I just cut back on the the total volume.

When they get back from a few days off for Christmas I'll research anecdotally what they felt in regards to recovery during that period with a TQR questionnaire. 

 Mike Curtis, M.Ed., CSCS, USAW, SCCC, NASM-PES, CES
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Men's Basketball
University of Virginia Athletics


I don't believe in adding "extra" workouts in just because there is extra time to do it. I try to help my guys recover as much as possible by constantly monitoring volume. I've found that keeping my focus on volume, guys are able to recover and be ready for the next session.

Glenn Harris
Boston University, Strength and Conditioning Coach

Topics: Basketball Related, Art Horne

Breathe Through The Brace by Art Horne

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 16, 2011 1:36:00 PM

by Art Horne


In a recent interview with Sue Falsone from API on (see link below), Sue discusses the concurrent roles that the diaphragm must operate as - both a RESPIRATOR and STABILIZER.  She mentioned that Stu McGill talks about "Breathing Through The Brace" and the importance of breathing while also stabilizing the core.  Clearly, one cannot come at the expense of the other and when the diaphragm does have to choose, breathing will always win.  As Stu has shared with me in the past, it is possible to both evaluate and train the diaphragm to concurrently provide stabilization while also bringing air into the body. 

See the below video for an example of training the diaphragm to act as both a respirator and stabilizer. 

Check out this great interview with Sue Falsone on




Topics: Art Horne, Health & Wellness

Defensive Communication - Bridging The Gap Between The Weight Room And The Court

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 19, 2010 10:19:00 PM

Notes collected by Art Horne

Early - Loud -Continuous Talk

We all want our teams to talk on defense, but do we really get them to understand how important it is and what it does for us and to the opponent?  Defensive communication is so important because it:

•     Intimidates: especially when the opponent knows that you know everything they're running because your players are calling out the plays and coverages as soon as they hear the call!
•     Gives your defense a head start: alerting a teammate of the action before it happens is critical to successful defense.
•     Gives the man on the ball more confidence: if he knows he has help and protection behind him he'll be much more confident and aggressive.
•     Wakes up a disengaged defender: talking to a player who's not paying attention on defense can alert him to get back and re-engaged.
•    Catches a mistake before it happens: so many times we have alerted a player to an offensive action before it caught him and that kept us from dealing with a mistake
•    Energizes your teammates: talking teams always seem to play with more energy – it’s a fact of basketball!

Topics: Basketball Related, Art Horne