Articles & Resources

The Importance of a Strong Work Capacity both Physically and Mentally

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Sep 29, 2012 12:45:00 PM

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By Sam Reffsin CSCS, USAW


Establishing a work capacity is key to a successful strength & conditioning program.  Given my own experiences and the knowledge I’ve gained from well-respected professionals in the industry, I define work capacity as the ability to complete a large amount of vigorous activity in an allotted amount of time.  Some consider this as simple as building an aerobic base, but I believe there are many more variables that play a role in establishing a work capacity.  The rate of lactate clearance is obviously vital, but the ability to follow directions and make the correct decisions in a fatigued state is equally important.

Too often I see high school basketball coaches administer the two mile conditioning test for their teams rather than high intensity interval tests.  This is one way to encourage your team to build an aerobic base but it will simultaneously take away from the anaerobic athlete by recruiting slow twitch muscle fibers and incorrectly prioritizing energy system development within the sport.  As most strength coaches know, high intensity interval training and/or resistance training would be more beneficial conditioning methods for this sport.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work under Art Horne at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  The methods that I learned from my time with Art have stayed with me and continue to play a large role in how I train my own athletes today.  At Northeastern, Art put the Men’s Basketball Team through a very fast paced movement preparation period that lasted about 25 minutes.  Not only did he push his athletes to complete a large amount of work in a small amount of time, but he made sure their form was on point with vertical tibias during their lunge series, minimal to no rotation during their plank variations and tremendous focus and effort throughout the entire session. 

Having learned from Art’s example at Northeastern, I have incorporated his methods into the training of my own Basketball athletes at Athercare Fitness & Rehabilitation Facility in Castro Valley, CA.  In order to boost each athlete’s mental work capacity, I have started using tactics during their group training sessions such as distracting them with blowing air horns, providing four bands for five athletes for problem solving purposes and having each athlete transition to their next station, on time, and in a fatigued state. I believe this type of training will increase the athletes’ abilities to find solutions and allow them to make correct decisions on their own even if they are extremely fatigued.

At the beginning of these training sessions, I start my basketball athletes off with a mobility circuit targeting the big three (ankle, anterior hip and T-spine).  Next, the athletes transition into a ladder series focusing on linear/lateral acceleration and deceleration.  I keep the tempo fast by shifting the players to a bear crawl series in the same space as the ladder work, where the main focus is on anti-rotation at the hips.  Next up is the hip series (gluteus medius/gluteus maximus) where each player grabs a mini band and performs a variety of linear and lateral movements with the band around their ankles or knees.  By this point, the athletes are sufficiently warm and are able to shift right into the next phase which is a lunge series usually with valslides and/or slideboards.  I like to give the players a variety of lunges hitting all planes.  Once they display high quality form, I will give them a dynamax ball to incorporate chopping/lifting, chest presses and shoulder flexion patterns while lunging simultaneously.  Vertical tibias during the lunges are needed to correct their quad dominant movements on the court so it is important not to progress the athlete with the dynamax movements until they can execute a proper lunge!

Once the athletes have completed their movement preparation/prehab period, I then have them begin the lift.  One of the workouts I actively prescribe to increase work capacity is the EDT (escalating density training) workout.  EDT is a method designed by Charles Staley.  His traditional method is to choose two exercises, pick a 10RM weight and perform each exercise for five reps.  The goal is to complete as many sets as possible in an allotted amount of time.  For example, I most recently prescribed my players this EDT Workout:  Lat Pull-down and rear foot elevated split squats for five reps each for 11 minutes.  Over time, I have found that once you understand the method you have a little bit of freedom with the amount of reps/time you prescribe.  This is a great way to increase an individual’s lactate threshold, lactate clearance, hypertrophy and work capacity.  Another method I’ve used to obtain similar results is having an athlete complete a certain amount of reps in an allotted amount of time in a given exercise.  Most recently I’ve had my athletes perform 100 supine barbell hip extensions with very short rest periods.  Not only is this a great way to buffer lactic acid and increase hypertrophy, but it establishes a great competitive attitude amongst teammates and gives each individual a goal for the next training session. 

Establishing a physical work capacity is vital to a successful strength & conditioning program but establishing a mental work capacity is just as important.  As a coach I can’t expect proper form and tremendous effort under harsh conditions unless I’ve established the importance of it during previous sessions.  This is just one aspect of a successful program and a way to maximize efficiency during training sessions.  None of this information is new and I’m sure a lot of coaches are already using it to formulate their own training sessions.  Study, learn, then do!


Sam Reffsin is the Director of Sports Performance at Don Chu’s Athercare Fitness & Rehabilitation facility located in Castro Valley, CA.  Sam has an open door policy and if you are in the area and would like to come by, email him at


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Topics: Basketball Related, Guest Author

One and Done by Steve Scalzi

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Apr 28, 2012 8:37:00 AM

by Steve Scalzi





During the lockout summer of 2011, Nike's marketing department sported a "basketball never stops" campaign.   Nike capitalized on Kobe, Durant, LeBron, D. Wade et al. barnstorming the country playing in the Goodman League, Melo League and at famed Rucker Park.  They reminded fans that, despite the uncertainty of the season, the lockout couldn't possibly hold down the purity of the game and the willingness of the game's greatest to simply pick up and play.

This year, after Kentucky clinched the 2011-2012 National Championship, many basketball purists rolled their eyes to the notion that Coach Calipari, king of the "one and done," system was now a champion.  Nike might want to answer to the purists and reprise their "basketball never stops" campaign to: "basketball will go on." 

The NBA has their well-established and unbending age limit, and, as David Stern noted this week, it won't be changing anytime soon.  With the system set up as is, essentially forcing even the most talented and physically gifted (see: Anthony Davis) through the college ranks, John Calipari has done a masterful job of annually attracting talent to Lexington and melding it together to compete for a national title.  Now that he's finally won a championship, all the naysayers and traditionalists who said it couldn't be done must be mute.  Is it good for the game?  Good for the kids?  Has Calipari created an academy churning out professional drones over well-rounded, educated college graduates?  The debate of whether Calipari embodies what is flawed about modern-day college basketball can be left for another day. 

Basketball will go on.  It is our job as coaches, strength coaches, and athletic trainers to shape the next move. 

To the readers and minds of BSMPG I have two questions that I hope to be a spring board for ideas, dialogue, and debate. 

If you are, have ever been, or strive to be, at the high major level of college basketball, how would the “one and done” system impact the way in which you train your athletes?

Compare these two scenarios:  you've been entrusted with Anthony Davis. An absolute monster of raw talent and potential.  He's more than capable at the college level to change the entire tenor of a game with his defensive prowess.  With added weight and improved agility, he may soon be amongst the best in professional basketball at protecting the rim and finishing around the basket. Knowing what we know now, that there was truth in the hype, as he swept national player of the year awards, would your focus be more on Davis’ physical development or simply keeping him healthy enough to compete?  How drastically, if at all, would this change your training?  Is your responsibility to your current institution only?  To ensure he stays fresh and ready to give your school a chance to win a national championship?

Or is it your responsibility to get the player ready for an 82 game grind of the NBA?  The calling card of the “ringless” Coach Cal was, while he had yet won the big one, he did right by the player and gave them the best chance at preparing them for the professional game.  This extended his brand and combined with Kentucky’s winning tradition to create some incredible recruiting advantages. 

How would this scenario compare to that of Harrison Barnes at University of North Carolina?  Barnes came into his freshmen year perhaps more physically ready to compete at the professional level than Davis.  Is this a prime example of a player you would take a relatively hands-off approach with?  Ensure he’s healthy so that he can perform out on the court and further physical development is pushed to the backburner?  From what meets the eye, Barnes appeared to come to campus with a body that was NBA-ready. 

Unfortunately for Barnes, his career has shown glimpses of greatness, but is viewed by some as underwhelming compared to the hype.  What if you were keeping him healthy, not taxing him physically, but then he is back on campus for his sophomore season?  Did you do him a disservice?  How would this change your training approach?

What about at the mid-major level? When “one and done’s” dominate the media, how do you tell a student-athlete that this career track is unrealistic and virtually impossible? 

The supposed “LeBronification” of America has led to high school players loving the drama surrounding their college decision, the increased influence of advising voices, and an unrealistic approach to the college assimilation process.  Many coaches refer to “de-recruiting” a player when they arrive on campus.  After spending months chasing a player and begging for their services, they finally step foot in the gym where coaches often break them down before once again building them up.

Lost in the recruiting hoopla are simple facts: for a prospective student-athlete to choose their highest offer, it doesn’t mean they’ve arrived, it ensures increased competition at their position.  And, for a prospective student-athlete who received high major interest to choose a mid-major school, he’s not choosing a lesser level and will thus dominate.  The challenges of acclimating to the college game will exist nonetheless and become apparent in practice and in the opening weeks of competition. For coaches, athletic trainers, and strength coaches alike, what role should we play in educating them on the draft process? Players may need to be de-recruited and educated about the virtual impossibility of a “one and done” scenario.  What is most glorified on television is not their likely career track. 

At Northeastern University, JJ Barea arrived on campus and was immediately named to the America East all-rookie team.  He finished out as a four time all-conference team member, was a CAA player of the year, and was a two-time finalist for the Bob Cousy Award (given annually to the nation’s best point guard).  After graduation, Barea dominated the Portsmouth Invitational pre-draft camp and set a tournament record with 41 assists in 3 games.  After his body of work, draft day came and went without him being selected.  Don’t worry, things turned out alright in the end. 

One thing is for certain, it’s called the NBA lottery for a reason.  Having your name called by the commissioner is akin to winning the lottery.  Your odds may be about the same even after an impressive career.  It is our responsibility to educate our athletes about the challenges, the work involved, and to remind them, a “one and done” career is nearly unattainable and nowhere close to the norm. 

Yes, the champions of college basketball are a collection of “one and done” talent.  The notion of a senior-led cast waiting their turn before reaching national prominence does not rule the day.  Traditionalists may balk, but basketball will go on.  Us coaches and trainers get to shape the direction it’s headed, despite the perception that the trend of the nation’s elite is the vast majority. 

Topics: Basketball Related, Guest Author

Two Must Read Articles For All Those That Work With Injured Athletes

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Feb 4, 2012 10:10:00 AM

Social Interactions May Influence Inflammation
Research has consistently demonstrated that psychosocial factors can influence inflammation in the body (e.g., stressful events may increase inflammation). Unfortunately, it’s still unclear what kind of events may be related to inflammation; especially when we consider multiple exposures. Therefore, Chiang et al evaluated if daily social interactions among 122 healthy young adults to determine if these interactions relate to systematic concentrations of proinflammatory mediators (measured via oral collection) at rest and after acute stress.
.... keep reading this article by clicking HERE.
Effects of Limb Immobilization On The Brain
In sports medicine a large variety of injuries require a period of immobilization that reduce or eliminate external load to protect healing structures.  However, there are several consequences resulting from longer periods of immobilization including increased joint stiffness, muscle atrophy, and decreased motor control or coordination.  These consequences may limit the amount of time a joint is immobilized and they also dictate our goals in rehabilitation after immobilization.  However, one area of the body that has not been well examined for adaptations due to joint immobilization is the brain.
..... keep reading this article by clicking HERE.

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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Factors Used to Determine Return to Unrestricted Sports Activities After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 8, 2012 6:39:00 PM



Click HERE to view this article.


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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Tour of Missouri Basketball Weight Room

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 7, 2012 10:46:00 AM


Click HERE to take a tour of the Missouri Basketball Weight Room.



Topics: Basketball Related, Guest Author

Function? by Gray Cook

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 1, 2012 2:52:00 PM


Click HERE to view this article by Gray Cook.


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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Femoroacetabular Impingement: Current Research and Best Practice

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Jan 1, 2012 1:56:00 PM


Click HERE to view this article. 

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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Developing Athletic Talent: The Utility of Sport Science

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 10, 2011 5:53:00 PM



Click HERE to watch this 20 minute presentation from the 2011 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.



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Topics: Basketball Related, Guest Author

The Parasympathetic Nervous System: Looking For A Way In

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 10, 2011 5:39:00 PM



Click HERE to read this great article by Patrick Ward.


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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness

Cuboid Syndrome and Lateral Foot Pain

Posted by Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group on Dec 10, 2011 5:15:00 PM



To read this article click HERE.


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Topics: Guest Author, Health & Wellness