Articles & Resources

Beginning The Off-Season - The First Three Weeks

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Apr 2, 2011 8:28:00 PM

By Brendon Ziegler

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The off-season is upon us; it came a little quicker this year than we would have liked, so back to the drawing board.  The off-season is a great opportunity for skill acquisition which our players and coaches will do a great job with on court. We will have nine solid weeks before the guys will go home for a month in June.

In the weight room we will begin this off-season much like all the others with a steady diet of volume.  The first three weeks, we will re-establish work capacity, with high repetitions in our lifting.  We generally use 8-10 reps on our strength work which for the first cycle will include exercises like front squats, snatch liftoffs, RDLs, step downs, overhead presses, pull-ups, etc.  We will also power clean and power snatch in reps of 4-5.  We will do stop versions of these exercise, since I am not a huge fan of doing block or hang work with the basketball players who have been previously lifting off the floor.  So we will add a pause above the knee or mid-thigh to remove momentum and really work on accelerating the bar through a very short range of motion.  The thought behind this is to increase the rate of force development and the ability of the athlete to accelerate from a completely static position.

In our movement drills we will scale our progressions back to the earlier versions.  Starting the off-season with simpler versions of our movement drills helps reestablish the physical qualities we mean to effect.  By introducing advanced drills, especially since many of the drills are removed during the in-season we would see poor movement pattern and speed. We revert back to static versions of our jumping drills, static broad jumps, vertical jumps, medial lateral hops, lateral bounds etc.  Sprinting drills are pretty simple: wall drills, ankling, A-skips, build-ups, 10-20 meter sprints, and some alternate leg bounding.   Change-of-direction drills are limited to activities such as slides, resisted slides and some basketball specific agility drills.

Work Capacity is further developed with activities such as slide board, medicine ball circuits and tempo runs.  This increased capacity for work will help us get the body and its tissues through difficult workouts later in the off-season.  We really won’t perform any high intensity conditioning until late summer.

Finally it is this at this point in the year that we will re-address some of our foundational training methods.  Although these exercises serve us in some capacity throughout the year it is at this stage they are most prevalent.   Planks, clams, hip flexion, hip extension and internal and external rotation exercises are taken back to earlier progressions to shore up movements.  We will progress these exercises and the hope is that they gain complexity and intensity and thus become functional.
What we do throughout this first month is far from innovative.  We put emphasis on quality of movement; it has to be done right. 

All Credit is due to: Al Vermeil, Erik Helland, Jeff Macy, Roger Neilson & Don Chu

Topics: Strength Training, Brendon Ziegler

Deadlift Variations by Jay DeMayo

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 26, 2011 9:28:00 AM

Click HERE to view this article by Jay DeMayo.

Topics: Strength Training, Jay DeMayo

Exercises To Increase Your Deadlift by Jay DeMayo

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 26, 2011 9:20:00 AM

Click HERE to view this article by University of Richmond's Strength and Conditioning coach, Jay DeMayo.

Congrats on getting your team to the 2011 Sweet Sixteen Jay!

Topics: Strength Training, Jay DeMayo

Real World Strong : The Deadlift by Jay DeMayo

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 13, 2011 9:30:00 AM

Read Jay's article by clicking HERE.

Topics: Strength Training, Jay DeMayo

How Can We Make Our Athletes More Powerful by Craig Liebenson

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mar 13, 2011 9:11:00 AM

Click HERE to read Craig's article.

Topics: Strength Training, Craig Liebenson

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

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.

athletic training conference 

Topics: Art Horne, Strength Training

Training With Better Footwear by Jay DeMayo

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 16, 2011 8:40:00 AM

Click HERE to view this article by University of Richmond Strength Coach Jay DeMayo.

Topics: Strength Training, Jay DeMayo

The Push UP Program by Jay DeMayo

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 9, 2011 8:39:00 AM

Click HERE to view this article by Jay DeMayo, University of Richmond.

Topics: Strength Training, Jay DeMayo

The Evolution Of A Pre-Game Warmup by Brijesh Patel

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 26, 2010 7:41:00 PM

by Brijesh Patel

I was recently speaking to my good friend, Art Horne (athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach at Northeastern University) at a pre-season basketball scrimmage about warming up.  Most basketball teams typically warm-up and stretch on the court.  Art wondered where we did ours, because our guys came out at 45 on the clock already to go with their specific warm-up with their coaches.  I explained that we conducted our warm-up in the weight room and he thought it would be a great idea if I presented what we do in an article.  I didn’t think it was earth shattering but thought it would be a good idea to explain what we do to prepare ourselves for a game.


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Here at Quinnipiac, we typically play doubleheader basketball games.  Our women play first and as soon as their game is over, there is 30 minutes on the clock before the men’s game.  We used to do a traditional warm-up and dynamic stretch on the court 60 minutes prior to the game.  The court isn’t available during a double header so we decided to take the warm-up to the weight room.  What started out as a necessity turned out to be our norm now for home games as our guys preferred going to the weight room over the court. 
Our on court warm-up tended to be a distraction for some guys as they were looking around in the stands seeing if their friends and family were there yet;  What the other team was doing would also distract them.  By moving to the weight room, we could really focus on “us” and “what we do”.  We could crank up the music, get some good energy going and really get prepared to be successful for the following competition.  Our guys now prefer and look forward to “stretching” in the weight room.  They’ve made a playlist on their ipod and know that warming up in the weight room is part of their pre-game routine.


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The order of warm-up is the following:
1. Warm-up
2. Loosen-up
3. Turn-On
4. Build-up

This is the general warm-up as it leads to the specific warm-up that the coaches will conduct after they are done with me.  In the specific warm-up the guards and bigs will split up and work on shooting, post moves, coming off screens, etc.

Here are the goals and examples of what we do for each category:
1. Warm-up – our goal is to increase the core temperature and break a sweat.  We start off with agility ladder work for about 3-4 minutes.
2. Loosen-up – our goal is to work on dynamic mobility of the entire body (ankles, hips, t-spine) in all 3 planes of motion.  We will start with various types of arm circles, progressing to isolated dynamic flexibility drills for the lower body (knee hugs, hamstring kicks, etc) and then progressing to lunge variations with arm drivers.  This takes about 6-8 minutes.

3. Turn-on – our goal is to activate the nervous system and get the glutes firing.  We incorporate glute bridges, single leg balance work, as well as low intensity reactive plyometrics (foot fire, line hops, etc.)  This takes about 1 minute.

4. Build-up – our goal is to incorporate movements that they will perform during their activity.  We incorporate sprinting, backpeddling and lateral shuffling as well as some change of direction work.  This takes about 2 minutes.
The total warm-up time is about 13-15 minutes and really gets our athletes ready for their specific warm-up.
I hope this article gets you thinking about how you get your athletes ready to compete and may give you some other ideas and options.



Topics: Strength Training, Brijesh Patel