Articles & Resources

A Case For A Percentage-Based Program In The Collegiate Or Professional Setting by Mike Boykin

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 6, 2011 3:13:00 PM

by Mike Boykin


Ernst Heinrich Weber was a professor of physiology at the University of Leipzig in the 1830s and is considered to be the founder of experimental psychology.  One of his many claim-to-fames was as the pioneer of the “just noticeable differences” (JNDs) principle, also known as the difference limen or the differential threshold.  Some of Dr. Weber’s experiments, watered down, involved handing a blindfolded individual a weight, followed shortly by a second weight.  The subject was then asked if the second weight was lighter, heavier, or the same as the first.

After numerous experiments, Dr. Weber noted that the smallest discernable difference between two stimuli was not an objective, quantitative value.  Instead, it was subjective and varied with the magnitude of the stimulus.  The equation thus derived was delta*I/I= k, where delta*I is the JND, I is representative of the original intensity, and k is termed the “Weber constant” that (although later proved wrong) denoted the ratio between the two previous values.  While Weber’s original belief- that a constant ratio was representative of the entire breadth of magnitudes a stimulus could impose on a sensory system- was wrong, the message can still pertain qualitatively to a periodization model.  Due in part to the limited nature of this post, I will not attempt to quantitatively find the JND of forces applied in the weight-room.  Instead, understand that there are certain loads that will feel different to your athletes, and certain loads that only appear significant on paper.  So how can we apply the concept of noticeable differences to the weight room in a percentage-based model?

The central nervous system’s perception that a weight is heavier or lighter is often more important than the fact itself.  Arbitrarily throwing numbers on a card for your athletes to follow adds stress to the wrong microcycles.  There are times in the year when you want athletes to feel trashed, times when they need to feel refreshed, and times when you’re on cruise, but still want to subtly increase intensity, volume, or work capacity.  During a deload week for example, the intensity and volume may appear to drop off, yet if this qualitative value does not reach the threshold of the JND, you’re wasting your time.  On the other end of the spectrum, as coaches, we need to find, and ultimately cross, the noticeable fine line when we want to push and impart stress onto our athletes.  Yet significantly exceeding this value may lead to maladaptation.  In addition, noticeable differences are not the same value for everyone- they’re dependant on the individual’s existing strength.  Just because your stud athlete can add fifty pounds to the bar with each consecutive set, doesn’t mean he should; and it certainly doesn’t mean the redshirt freshman next to him needs to either.  Dictating certain numerical values through relative percents allows for group modifications and ensures that the team is peaking together.  Due to the subjectivity of the JND, it appears that a percentage-based model that accounts for differences in how weights are perceived relative to a certain benchmark, may allow for individualized programming that collectively impacts the team.


Information and help was provided by Dr. Dane Cook, Ph.D., an Exercise Psychologist at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

Topics: Strength Training, Guest Author

Running Mechanics and Basketball

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 5, 2011 10:37:00 AM

basketball resources


Click HERE to read the original article by Henry Abbott on the differences between how James and Wade run and the impact it may have on their performance and health.


basketball resources


Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Graston And Anterior Knee Pain by

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Feb 6, 2011 10:05:00 AM

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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Inner City Weightlifting - An Opportunity To Give Back by Sarah Cahill

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 23, 2011 10:50:00 AM

athletic training resources

For the past three months I have been dedicating my Saturdays to an incredible program called Inner City Weightlifting.  The program takes young people who are on a direct path to gang involvement and provides them with opportunities to participate in the sport of Olympic Lifting.  Inner City Weightlifting provides students with career opportunities working for the nonprofit itself and in the field of personal training.  The sport, coaches, and atmosphere facilitate a positive change for these students.  As a student attempts to set a new personal record (PR) for weight lifted, everyone stops and watches.  The lifters help ‘pump up’ the student’s morale and something unexpected happens: children who have been given limited support outside of a gang, are now encouraging each other, and a bond and team is formed.  Every Saturday I look forward to spending time with this group of amazing young people and am reminded of the power of believing in the potentiality of others.

Stories demonstrating the success of the program

One student came to us 2 months ago. He was a member of one of the most high-profile gangs in Boston, and had been in and out of jail since his early teens. In January, 2010 he was shot 5 times in the torso. He was left paralyzed from the waste down, and homeless.

When we first started working with him, his future was dim. Over the last two months, however, his attitude has changed. We found him a job opportunity working with us, he is considering furthering his education, and he has made incredible progress in the strength and motion of his legs.

A few weeks ago, we got a call from his caseworker at Boston Medical Center. In the background we heard his voice shouting "ask them how many pull ups I do now!"

At the next practice he approached the coaches.   He was getting papers signed, so we can work closely with his psychiatrist as well. Our coaches said, "Of course. Always let us know if there is anything we can do to help."

His response, "You already are."

Another story about one of our students….
 “Eduardo” grew up on streets claimed by MS-13. He joined the gang at age 13. By 14, he was locked up for a year. Upon release he was stabbed and jumped several times.  He faces an almost overwhelming pull to return to a life of violence.
Eduardo was under house arrest when we met. We set up equipment in his basement. At this time he was considering dropping out of school. During our sessions he spoke about what he had been through. We listened.  At his next court appearance we lobbied his probation officer to let us work with him in a proper training facility.

Eduardo has been training at our gym for four months now. In truth, he has a chance. He’s set a goal of lifting more weight than anyone else in his weight class. He’s begun to speak about turning his grades around and attending Michigan State.  Lifting, he’s told us, is his way to stay out of trouble. It is something he cannot do drunk or stoned. He cannot be at the gym and wandering the streets simultaneously. Eduardo now wants to come to practice every day.

Program Update

The biggest obstacle which we are facing at Inner City Weightlifting is finding facilities where we can bring our students to train.  Many facilities have closed their doors after learning more about the students we work with and what backgrounds they have.  Less than 1% of the population in Boston is responsible for more than 50% of the youth violence.  Inner City Weightlifting is providing these youth with the confidence to say no to violence and yes to opportunity.  It’s amazing what can happen if we open the doors for opportunity.

Links and Videos

Here is a news clip which aired on Channel 5
Here is a link to the Inner City Weightlifting website

-Sarah Cahill

Topics: Basketball Related, Guest Author

Five Ways To Improve Your Vertical by Brendan McKee

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 23, 2011 9:57:00 AM

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Topics: Guest Author, Vertical Jump Training

Maryland Basketball Stays In Shape With An Unconventional Workout Routine

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 9, 2011 12:08:00 PM

basketball resources


By Liz Clarke

Washington Post Staff Writer

It starts with Maryland's basketball players standing on opposite sidelines, crossing one foot over the other and rocking back and forth to stretch their feet and ankles.

Next comes a series of choreographed forays across the width of the court and back, in which the Terps move like dancers in a Thriller video - skipping, high-step jogging, crab-walking sideways. That's followed by a sequence inspired by yoga's Warrior Pose in which players adopt a stance resembling a runner frozen mid-stride, then touch the floor, reach skyward, twist at the waist and repeat.

Maryland's eight-and-a-half minute, pregame stretching routine - conducted while most opponents shoot lay-up after lay-up at the opposite end of the court - is called "Movement Preparation." And it's designed to get the Terps' muscles ready for the full range of explosive movements demanded by the 40 minutes of competition to come.

It's just one aspect of the men's basketball team's strength and conditioning program that's unlike that of most other colleges in that it blends concepts from professional football and baseball regimens, as well as yoga - all with the goal of improving players' mobility, stamina and confidence.

The program was developed by a former Penn State offensive lineman, Paul Ricci, who spent nine seasons training the Baltimore Ravens for the rigors of the NFL before joining the Terps.

Though it's tricky to draw a direct link between gym workouts and on-court results, the Terps have had just one missed game and one missed practice by a starter in two-and-a-half years. And players, to a man, say they're in the best shape of their lives.

"We are stronger," says Coach Gary Williams. "And we are quicker."

Sophomore center Jordan Williams is a case in point.

As a standout at Torrington (Conn.) High School two years ago, the big center was viewed by most recruiting gurus as more of a project than a blue-chip prospect - a late-bloomer wrapped in a bit too much baby fat. "Runs the floor reasonably well," declared ESPN's 2008 Player Evaluation. But "needs to continue to improve his footwork and post moves . . . [and] continue to improve his body."

Since joining the Terps, Williams has shed more than 20 pounds, pared his body fat from 19.5 percent to 12 percent and seen his performance and stamina soar.

In the Terps' last game, the Dec. 12 loss to Boston College, Williams delivered his ninth double-double of what is proving a remarkable statistical season, looking every bit a contender for college basketball's Naismith and Wooden awards. Moreover, he played a career-high 38 minutes - unfathomable as recently as last spring, when Williams got winded banging bodies with the ACC's big men after just 25 minutes.

"He has changed my whole physique," the sophomore center says of Ricci. "It's like night and day from when I came in here. I give him a lot of credit."

The pregame stretching is a small part of the Terps' strength conditioning program that also includes weight training after home games, even if it's 10 p.m. or later. The 15-minute sessions are voluntary, Ricci notes, but well-attended, designed to help players get a jump on the recovery process and mentally unwind after games.

And it entailed a grueling regimen this summer in College Park, in which the Terps pushed heavy sleds back and forth across the Comcast Center loading dock, ran sprints in August's sweltering heat and lifted in the gym.

There's a philosophy behind each of these exercises. And it's a radical departure from the prevailing wisdom about how basketball players should prepare in Gary Williams's playing days as a Terp in the mid-1960s.

"You weren't allowed to lift weights," the coach recalls. "The theory then was that if you lifted weights, it would restrict you as a shooter and you'd get too tight, too muscular. Also back then, you weren't allowed to drink water during practice."

Water, many old-line coaches believed, caused cramps. Worse, they viewed thirst as a sign of weakness in players. So they gave them salt tablets instead, exacerbating their dehydration.

Williams concedes he's no expert in exercise physiology. But he liked what he heard about Ricci after the Ravens' coaching staff disbanded following Brian Billick's ouster and invited him in for an interview.

"Part of coaching is you have to know your weaknesses," Williams says. "I knew we needed a good strength program for our basketball players."

After hiring Ricci as Maryland's first director of basketball performance, Williams asked him to get the squad in the best possible shape for the start of practice, to develop each player to his potential, and to build a more explosive team capable of sustaining the press defense he favors.

Ricci consulted basketball trainers in the pro and college ranks to develop a program to accomplish just that. He borrowed the idea of postgame weight-training from his work with the San Diego Padres, where he learned that pitchers routinely lift weights after they've thrown. Many NBA teams also lift weights after games, though it's a rarity in college ball.

It has both physiological and psychological benefits, Ricci says. It jump-starts the recovery process by stretching players' muscles. It calms their nervous systems, which are invariably ramped up after games. And because few, if any, college teams lift weights after games, it gives the Terps confidence that they've outworked their opponents and can withstand a rigorous second half or overtime if need be.

But Ricci's first task was a sales job.

"The main thing about getting them in peak shape is shaping their attitude toward doing it," Ricci says. "A lot of these guys have not had somebody dedicated to them and dedicated to taking care of their bodies like a professional athlete. If they want to take it to the next level - whatever that might be - they have to put in the time right away."

Ricci found that his most powerful ally was any televised NBA game in which LeBron James participated: King James was Exhibit A of the merits of a sculpted basketball physique. Maryland's Greivis Vasquez also drove the point home, transforming himself from a lithe freshman to a muscular ACC player of the year and first-round NBA draft pick.

But initially, some of the exercises Ricci prescribed seemed foolish to Jordan Williams.

"A lot of the stuff! It was like, 'What are you doing?!' " the center recalls. "But when we feel the results, and see the outcome of what he has done for us, it's just remarkable. . . . Last year I probably averaged 24, 25 minutes a game, and throughout the game I found myself kind of tired. Now I think I can play at a good pace the whole game, with a break here and there."

For a more scientific way of gauging the Terps' fitness, Ricci uses a so-called "Bod Pod" - a $45,000 machine, acquired last year through a private donation, that measures body composition through the displacement of air when an athlete sits in one of the two cocoon-like chambers.

That way, players can compare their body fat to the NBA's guidelines (6 to 10 percent for guards; 11 to 14 percent for post players). And Ricci can monitor their progress. Any backsliding suggests an athlete has slacked off on his workouts or strayed from his diet.

Ideally, the Bod Pod will soon be housed in a new weight-room outfitted for the specific needs of Maryland's men's and women's basketball teams, to be located in 2,000 square feet of former storage space in the Comcast Center basement. The floor plan has been mapped out, and private fund-raising is under way.

Meantime, Ricci can tell the Terps are progressing by plain-old body language: the way they carry themselves and flaunt their chiseled physiques.

"You'd think these guys would be confident all the time, but you can really see it change their self-esteem," Ricci says. "Hopefully it builds some confidence when they're playing against the best players. They know they've paid the price."

Topics: Basketball Related, Guest Author

Foot Mechanics - Made Simple by Logan Schwartz

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 9, 2011 8:49:00 AM

Click HERE to view this video of University of Texas Strength and Conditioning Coach Logan Schwartz.

Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

University of Texas Strength Coach, Logan Schwartz Talks Foot Mechanics

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 19, 2010 6:48:00 PM

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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Why McConnell Patellar Taping May Work by Mike Reinhold

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 19, 2010 6:22:00 PM

When working with basketball athletes there is one thing that is certain and that's knee pain. See why Mike Reinhold thinks McConnell Patellar Taping my work by clicking HERE.

Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Fascial Manipulation from Mike

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 12, 2010 2:10:00 PM

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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness