Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group, LLC Blog

Congrats to Tim Beltz and the Men's Basketball Team from University of Pittsburgh

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 @ 07:11 AM

college basketball strength programs

Congrats to the University of Pittsburgh and Strength and Conditioning Coach Tim Beltz for winning the 2010 2K Sports Classic this past weekend at Madison Square Garden over the University of Texas 68-66.

Watch Tim discuss how he assesses and prepares his basketball team each year for the rigors of Big East play and how his strength programming has this team in the national spot light again.

Watch Tim's full presentation along with presentations from basketball's best strength coaches including Keith D'Amelio from the University of Stanford, Mike Curtis from the University of Virginia, Amanda Kimball from the University of Connecticut and many more by purchasing the 2010 BSMPG Basketball Conference Video.

Topics: Basketball Related, basketball performance, basketball resources, basketball training programs, female basketball, female strength training

Now or Later

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 @ 07:10 AM

everything basketball


I’ve asked a number of friends why they don’t include assessments as part of their screening process.  More often than not the answer is because they are “too busy.”

What takes more time? An initial assessment of your athletes on intake followed by some simple corrective strategies or a 6-month post-surgical ACL rehab?

If you are too busy to change today, how will you have time to fix it later?


Art Horne is the Coordinator of Care and Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Basketball Team at Northeastern University, Boston MA.  He can be reached at

Topics: Art Horne, Strength Training, basketball training programs, athletic training conference, boston hockey summit, boston hockey conference, hockey conference, Shirley Sahrmann, Good to Great, female basketball, evidence based medicine, development

Interview with Ray Eady, University of Wisconsin

Posted by Guest Blogger on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 @ 09:04 AM

Check out Brian McCormick’s interview with Ray Eady, Strength and Conditioning Coach from University of Wisconsin.  His interview can also be found on Brian’s Newsletter, “Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletter” a must read for all those that follow the game of basketball.  Ray talks about training and evaluating the basketball athlete along with special considerations for the female athlete.
This week, I have an interview with Ray Eady, the strength and conditioning coach for the women’s basketball program at the University of Wisconsin. Previously, he was the head strength and conditioning coach for men’s and women’s basketball at the University of Akron and Northeastern University. Eady holds a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology form the University of Akron and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA – CSCS) and a Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM – PES).

BM: What assessments or evaluations do you use with your players in the pre-season?
Eady: During the pre-season, the athletic trainer and I will assess and evaluate the players in a couple of areas. First, we will do a functional movement screen. I like doing the movement screens because it allows me to asses an array of total body movement mechanics.  As you know, proper movement mechanics is needed to perform efficiently, effectively, and injury free on the basketball court.  The screens we typically use are:

1.    Overhead squat test
2.    Hurdle test
3.    Active hamstring test
4.    In-line lunge test

In addition to the screens, we will do the hop and stop test and the leap and stop test to assess a player’s ability to produce, absorb, and stop force on one leg.

We will also do some performance evaluations to measure leg power and strength.  To measure power, we will do a series of vertical jump test.  

1.    Static jump test to measure starting strength
2.    Countermovement jump test to measure speed-strength
3.    4-jump test to measure how efficient a player is using their power repeatedly

We perform these jumps on a just-jump mat while the athletes are holding a dowel on the back of their shoulders (as if they were going to do a back squat). The goal is to eliminate the action of the arms to really determine leg power. I like performing these tests because they can help you determine if certain players need more strength work or more speed/elastic work.

For conditioning, we will do the standard 300 yard shuttle test which is a great test to measure anaerobic capacity. This year, I will test the players in the 150 yard shuttle because the energy system demands are bit different (anaerobic power).

Lastly, we will do body composition assessments to determine body fat and lean muscle tissue.  I want our players to be at an optimal body weight for increased performance and to reduce the chances of injury.  

I must say the most overrated test when evaluating basketball players has to be the bench press test. So many coaches put a premium on the results. I am not saying basketball players don’t need upper body pushing strength but the relevance it has on basketball performance is minimal. When the bench press can prevent a female player from tearing her ACL then I will put more emphasis on the test.

Let’s make it clear, performance evaluations will never truly tell you if a player will have some success on the court. It merely predicts future performance.  All the strength and power in the world won't make you a successful athlete unless you're able to apply it in sport-specific contexts and integrate it with finer motor qualities.

I don’t try to re-invent the wheel when it comes to testing. I want to make my evaluations meaningful for my athletes and to make it applicable for what they will most likely be doing on the court.

BM: Do you have any good/different drills that you use with women’s players to teach proper landing and cutting techniques to prevent ACL injuries?
Eady: First, I don’t think we can ever prevent ACL injuries in female basketball players.  We all know that female players are two to eight times more likely to sustain an ACL tear when compared to males. Anatomical and physiological characteristic such as pelvis width (Q-angle), femoral notch, poor glute and hamstring recruitment, and joint and ligament laxity during the menstrual cycle puts the female player at risk. However, we can reduce the rate of occurrences by having female players participate in a well designed and progressive strength training program that focuses on improving maximal strength development. The stronger females can become, the less likely they will get injured.

Second, strength is the foundation for improving movement efficiency, central nervous system efficiency, nervous system efficiency, neuromuscular control, balance, coordination, stability, deceleration, and reaction.  All of these attributes are needed to reduce the rate of ACL injuries. With these non-contact injuries, poor lower body eccentric strength is usually at the root of the problem.  

Also, many jump programs tend to emphasize landing with correct technique but don’t address the ability to get into a safe landing position. If a player lacks the ankle, hip and T-spine mobility (and once again, strength) to get into a safe landing position with just her body weight, how are they ever going to do it when the forces are higher?  If you are going to address landing and cutting mechanics it is important that mobility and strength (most specifically isometric and eccentric strength) are addressed concurrently. The ability to decelerate, absorb and stop the forces a player creates on the court is the key.

With that being said, I am a fan of doing some yielding isometric (activation) work prior to our jump/landing drills. Yielding isometrics is great for re-enforcing how to control, absorb, and stop force production (which occurs when landing from a jump or changing directions). Studies have shown that a person can recruit 5% more motor-units/muscle fibers during a maximal isometric muscle action than during a maximal eccentric or maximal concentric action. This is great since we need our muscles to activate and fire eccentrically to decelerate force.  Of course, isometric work is not dynamic in nature but it’s also great for teaching, assessing and correcting body positioning. After our isometric work we will follow up with some dynamic work.  

For example, if we are doing double-leg jumps, we will do some partner resisted isometric squat holds to activate the musculature of the hips.  We will hold at three positions:

1.    Statically a few inches from the starting position
2.    Statically at mid range
3.    Statically at full contraction

Each position is held for approximately 10 seconds.  Following the isometric holds, we will perform maximum effort squat jumps with sticks (sticking the landing and holding for 5 seconds without any movement).  We do this set-up for the majority of our jump training/landing drills.  

Once again, the isometric work prior to our jumps just prepares our neuromuscular system for the dynamic action that is about to take place. It should be noted that the dynamic movement must mimic the isometric movement (i.e. squat holds for box jump downs, split squat holds for split squat jumps, single leg holds for single leg jumps, hops, leaps, etc.)

BM: Since girls/women tend to have poor hamstring strength compared to quad strength, what type of exercises (emphasis) do you do to correct imbalance or strengthen the weakness?
Eady: Of course, with most female basketball players, you will notice some lumbo-pelvis-hip postural distortion. This includes shortened and tight quads and hip flexors and lengthened and weak hamstrings and glutes. Therefore, our workouts always include some remedial and prehab work to correct these lower body imbalances. This will include soft tissue work, hip flexibility, glute activation, core stability and hip mobility.  

Some coaches are opposed to isolation work for specific musculatures but I think they have their role in training, especially when doing remedial work. With that being said, we will do a variety of isolation work for the posterior hip (glute max), lateral hip (glue medius), and the anterior hip (psoas).  

Within our strength training session, we will include more ground base posterior chain/hip extension exercises to re-enforce our remedial work.  On the days we squat, we will include more unilateral post-chain work. On the days we do single leg work (i.e. split squats, lunge variations), we will do more bilateral post-chain work.  My favorite exercise for posterior chain development and strength is actually the box squat.  There has been some debate about the squat especially for athletes that participate in movement based team sports.  However, I believe it’s a great exercise to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and improve overall strength.  Of course, I would only prescribe this exercise if a player is capable and able to perform it proficiently.  Another favorite exercise is the one-leg squat to a bench or box. This is a great exercise to improve unilateral eccentric leg strength.

BM: Now that the season is over, how do you structure or periodize the players’ off-season? Do you use different training blocks emphasizing different things?
Eady: My goal for the off-season is to prepare our team for the upcoming competitive season by developing the physical qualities need to perform at a healthy and optimal level. Of course, this includes improving strength, power, sport-specific speed, quickness and conditioning. At the end of every competitive season, I will develop a yearly training plan based on a couple of factors (a few many include):

1.    The number of returning players.  Will we be a veteran or a rebuilding team?
2.    What type of playing style will we execute offensively and defensively?
3.    Are we a team that needs toughness?  More team unity?
4.    Are we skilled at all five positions? How many players do we have at each position?
5.    How will certain players be utilized offensively and defensively?
6.    Do some players need additional work (i.e. weight loss, weight gain, speed, etc.)?

Once these factors are identified, I can develop and implement a plan to meet our competitive needs.

I divide the training year into blocks (off-season I, off-season II, pre-season I, pre-season II, and in-season). Each block focusing on a specific physical quality.  For example, off-season I is typically dedicated to teaching and re-educating the players on how to perform certain “technical” lifts, as well as improving posture, balance, coordination, movement, core stability, and GPP (work capacity). These are the physical qualities that are needed to successfully complete summer workouts.

Our main goal for off-season II is to improve sub-maximal and maximal strength which is extremely important. Strength is one of the catalysts for enhancing athleticism.

We still train other qualities such as strength-speed, speed-strength, general conditioning, etc. but our number one priority is to get strong. This particular block is the best time to achieve this quality because of a couple of reasons:

1.    On-court activity is usually reduced during the summer. Players can give more energy and mind share to weight room activities.
2.    I don’t believe you can continue to improve strength at an optimal rate during the pre- or competitive seasons because players are now being exposed to stressors that can negatively impact strength gains.  (i.e. individual workouts with coaches, team practices, conditioning sessions, pick-up games, late night study sessions, early classes, etc.)

During pre-season I our goal is to prepare for the start of official practice.  The physical qualities that are highly emphasized are basketball specific movement/endurance, power, and strength. Our training tends to be more specialized to the demands of the sport.

The goal for pre-season II is to prepare for the beginning portion of our non-conference game schedule. At this point in time, on-court activity has increased dramatically.  Weight training frequency and volume will decrease but when we train the focus is to maintain strength gains achieved during the off-season and pre-season I. We tend to do more therapeutic work during these sessions to facilitate the recovery process as well.

Finally, the goal for the in-season is to keep the players healthy and competitive. Like most strength coaches, I understand the importance of in-season strength training but I also understand that practice takes priority. You can’t put too much physical and mental stress on your players that they are unable to perform efficiently on the court.  Eventually, you will have overtrained players and not so happy coaches.



Last chance to register at a discount for the conference!!


Topics: basketball conference, athletic training conference, athletic training, athletic trainer, female basketball, female strength training, sports performance, strength coach, sports conference

Female Basketball Players Need to Get Strong

Posted by Guest Blogger on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 @ 21:03 PM

It’s simple, female basketball players need to get strong!

It’s not uncommon to hear the following from players after a long competitive season, “Coach, what can I do to...”

1.    Jump higher?
2.    Improve my jump shot?
3.    Play better defense? (defensive stance)
4.    Run faster?
5.    Move quicker?
6.    Etc., Etc., Etc.

My response is usually, “Get stronger!”

Likewise, coaches often approach me stating, “We need to..?

1.    Get more athletic!
2.    Play better defense! (defensive stance)
3.    Run faster!
4.    Move quicker!
5.    Get in better condition!
6.    Etc., Etc., Etc.

My response is usually, “Coach, let’s continue to get stronger!”

Let’s be honest, today’s athletes are consistently looking for a quick fix.  Most want to get better at playing their sport but very few are willing to do the things that can really improve their game. When a player asks me what they can do to improve their athleticism, I simply tell them to get stronger. Of course, a well-designed training program is going to include soft tissue work, mobility work, core work, speed work, plyometrics, explosive training, corrective exercises, and other forms of training to enhance athleticism. However, for the purpose of this article, I want to talk about the importance of building pure strength.

I work with the women’s basketball team at the University of Wisconsin and every off-season my goal is to get our team stronger than the previous year. Why? Because if there is one physical attribute that a female basketball player needs more than any other it’s strength. On the other hand, I am still amazed that some basketball coaches continue to underestimate the importance of strength. 

I was talking with a strength coach who was frustrated at his head coach because she wants her players to run during the post-season.  The reason; “We need to get in better condition”.  I do not profess to have all the answers but why do players need to be in “basketball” shape in April, May or June for that matter?  Official basketball practice does not start until mid-October.  I’ll be honest; I am not a fan of players running or conditioning in the post-season. I believe the post-season is a time to heal from the long competitive season and for preparing your athletes for off-season training. The last thing basketball players need in the off-season is pre-season style conditioning.  However, basketball players do need lots of strength work and this especially holds true for female athletes. 

The myths surrounding females and strength training are quite disturbing and in some cases have negatively impacted our ability to train women despite the tremendous amount of research on the topic. These myths include:

1.    Women can’t get strong
2.    Strength training will make women look bulky and masculine
3.    Women should avoid high-intensity training or high-load training
4.    Women should train differently than men
5.    Women only need to do cardio and if they decide to lift weights, they should be very light.

As strength and conditioning professionals, it is imperative that we educate our coaches and athletes on the benefits of strength training, particularly when dealing with female athletes. This is extremely important when we are introduced to new recruits (freshmen) with limited strength training experiences.
Some people will argue what exactly is strength? Is a female capable of performing a 20-rep squat at 60 percent of their one-rep max a form of strength? Or is a female capable of squatting 1.5 times her bodyweight a form of strength?  I would say both scenarios are examples of strength (strength endurance versus maximal strength). 

However, the basis of this article is to discuss maximal strength development of which female athletes don’t do enough of. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of movement and function and I don’t see the world through the hole of a 45-pound plate (a great article posted previously on this blog). However, it’s okay to challenge and encourage your female players to lift heavier weights during a training session to develop the strength needed to effectively compete in their sport. 

As quoted by Lou Schuler in his book entitled The New Rules of Lifting for Women, “results come from hard work and hard work occasionally includes lifting heavier weights.” Basically, it’s alright for females (if capable and taught proficiently) to squat heavy, deadlift heavy, perform chin-ups/pull-ups, perform sled work, perform kettlebell work and the list goes on!

So what are the benefits for getting strong? (I am sure this comes to no surprise for those reading this article.) First and foremost, we all know that female athletes are more prone to sport-related injuries when compared to male athletes. Therefore, the stronger females can become, the less likely they will get injured. Second, strength is the foundation for improving movement efficiency, central nervous system efficiency, balance, coordination, stability, power, speed, elasticity, acceleration, deceleration, quickness, reaction, and conditioning.

Basically, strength is one of the catalysts for enhancing athleticism. Athleticism is the catalyst for providing a solid foundation for developing a skill. Therefore, if you want to improve your ability to post up a defender – get strong; if you want to improve your rebounding capabilities - get strong; if you want to improve your ability to play man-to-man defense – get strong; if you want to improve your ability to absorb contact when driving to the basket – get strong; if you want to set hard screens or get through screens – get strong, if you want to improve your jump shot - get strong! I think you get the point!

Third, all basketball players need to play at an optimal weight/body composition regardless of position.  Researchers found that unlike men, women typically don't gain size from strength training, because compared to men; women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy. So, lifting heavier weights will develop functional strength without the expense of adding unwanted size. 

I believe there is also a psychological benefit for females when developing strength. When a female athlete becomes stronger, they become more confident and their self-esteem soars through the roof.  Confidence translates into toughness. Toughness is an attribute that is needed to win games. Why, because you need toughness to play defense, to dive on the floor for loose balls, to make free throws, to run your offensive sets, to erase a ten point deficit or to maintain a 10-point lead.

Within a team environment, getting stronger can foster team unity and enhance team toughness simply by having players push themselves (and each other) in the weight room. Make no mistake, female athletes want to be challenged and in most cases; in the same manner as a male athlete. They want to train in an intense and competitive environment and some relish the experience. 

Lastly, studies have shown that strength training (strength work) reduced depression symptoms and anxiety levels more successfully than standard counseling sessions. Newly released studies show that after a strength training session, endorphin levels (feel good hormones) are increased by more than 60 percent leaving you feeling rejuvenated and even euphoric, keeping your mind trouble-free.

Mentally, players have to prepare for a long season which can be quite stressful. Players are under extreme stress because of classes, study sessions, and practices. Games are normally played on Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and during winter break sessions. Social activities with friends and family are at a minimal. If you ever been to Madison, Wisconsin the cold weather and snow can sometimes make life miserable. Let’s not forget, losing streaks are stressful as well. Stress can make or break a season!  Weight training can be quite therapeutic.

So remember, if you want your female players to be athletic, lean, competitive, self-confident, tough and stress free; lift some heavy stuff once in awhile!


Blog article written by: Ray Eady, M.Ed, CSCS, PES, Strength and Conditioning Coach - Women’s Basketball at University of Wisconsin


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Topics: basketball conference, athletic training conference, boston hockey summit, boston hockey conference, womens basketball, female basketball, female strength training, off season training