Articles & Resources

The Issue Of Enhancement by Matt Herring

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Oct 29, 2010 6:53:00 PM

by Matt Herring, University of Florida

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A few weeks ago I was discussing  tri-planar mobility with my interns.  During the discussion, someone asked about functional progression.  The question was “Can you enhance a movement in a proficient plane before gaining mobility in all planes?  Can we load a sagittal lunge before the athlete can perform a lateral lunge?  Will loading of that one plane hinder the ability to improve mobility in the other planes?”

My CYA answer was “It depends.”  I then rambled on about how no movement is purely single-plane and that movement occurs in all planes even if it appears to be dominant in one-plane.  I think most of my interns nodded their heads more out of confusion than agreement, but it allowed me a second to gather my thoughts on the question.  My first concern was why did my interns all assume loading was the next functional progression after mobility?  Why was “enhance” synonymous with “loading”?   Obviously I haven’t taught functional progression well enough for them to understand and appreciate “enhancement”.  How better to appreciate a concept that to demonstrate.  I decided that we would use their example of a sagittal lunge to demonstrate that “enhancement” doesn’t need to be external loading. 

We first established that we all had full mobility in the sagittal plane. From there we progressed to using hand reaches while lunging -anterior at various heights, posterior overhead, frontal at various heights, and transverse at various heights.  Next, we progressed to alternate reaches-one hand in one plane, the other hand in another plane.  After just using hand reaches, their understanding of “enhancement” was changing.
We then progressed to different foot positions.  First were frontal tweaks-a little wider than normal, narrow, or even crossover.  Next transverse-toes slight internally or externally rotated.  Of course, combining frontal and transverse was an easy progression.  Wide with toes in, crossover with toes out.  Suddenly, their appreciation was growing.  I then challenged them to develop their own variations.  Soon, they were combining foot positions with hand reaches to come up with a great variety of challenging lunges, and we never used an external load. 

By now their heads were swimming with new ideas and movements to try, so I decided to call it a day.  But before we adjourned, I briefly introduced other enhancements, like lifting the trail foot to finish the lunge balanced on one leg.  How about looking in a different direction as you lunge to change your visual feedback? How about speed lunges?  Or lunging off a small box to increase the eccentric load?  What about bounding into the lunge?  Now imagine all of those with the various hand reaches. Information overload had been achieved.  But that was my objective.  I wanted them to understand external loading is not the only method to “enhance” a movement.  By using these methods, a movement can be enhanced in the proficient plane and mobility can be addressed in the other planes simultaneously.  It is up to us to find the athletes’ individual level of success and build from there. The next challenge was finishing tri-planar mobility. 

I think I’ll save that one for another day…

Topics: Strength Training, Matt Herring

Matt Herring

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 4, 2010 3:34:00 PM

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.

Topics: Q&A, Matt Herring