Have you seen the new MTV show, Catfish?
If you haven’t, I think you should check it out. It’s a show that will make you think. It’s about people who meet each other online and then meet for the first time in person. The term ‘catfish,’ defines a person who creates a fake profile based on someone else’s information (basically they pretend to be someone they’re not).
My question to you is: are you pretending to be a player that you’re really not?
A couple years ago I was working with a player who told me he was a three point shooter. I’m not sure of his shooting percentage (in games), but I could tell from the first time that I worked with him that he wasn’t a “3-point shooter.” The fact that you can make 3’s doesn’t mean you’re a 3-point shooter. You need to be able to make them consistently in games.
Are you a defensive stopper?
So who are you as a player? Don’t lie. It’s important to be honest with yourself so that you can play to your strength(s). This doesn’t mean that you can’t transform yourself into a different player; it means that while you’re working on tranforming yourself as a player you still play to your strength(s).
I’ve worked will all types of players from true point guards to shooting guards, post players to big men who play on the wing. The important thing is to realize where your strength are and to play to them. At the same time you’re playing to those strengths you can be working on transforming your game during practice.
The other thing that this will do is force you to do some critical thinking about where you are as a player and where you want to go.
Here is a great exercise you can do as a player. Write down your current position as a player (as defined by your coach). Next, write down the position you hope to play at the next level (next level may be varsity, AAU, d-3 college, or d-1 college). Underneath each position I want you to write the 5 most important skills and qualities needed at each of those levels (where you currently are and where you want to go). Then I want you to add 5 more sub skill-sets below each. An example is below:
High School (Back-up) Point Guard:
- Know all of the teams plays
- You never know when you may have to play more and therefore you need to know everything your team runs as good, or better than your starting point guard.
- Play ‘mistake’ free
- Turnovers and mental mistakes should be non-existant for PG’s. Especially if you’re only in the game for limited minutes
- Have high energy minutes
- There should be no drop-off in energy when you come into the game, even if you aren’t as skilled as the starting point guard
- Run practice team efficiently in practice
- Challenge the starting unit to help improve them and your team overall
- Make open shots that are in range
- this may be anything from 3’s to mid-range
High School (Starting) Point Guard:
- Know all of the teams plays
- Offensive, defensive, out of bounds, etc.
- Be able to guard the other teams starting PG
- You have to be quick enough to control the other teams point guard
- Make free throws at a high perecentage (especially down the stretch)
- You must be confident enough to have the ball in late-game situations
- Be able to Penetrate to create easy shots for other players
- Your ball handling and ability to read openings must be GREAT
- Control the Flow of the game (play how your coach wants to you on the offensive and defensive end)
- Sometimes you may have to speed it up, other times slow it down
After you have done this exercise you should get an idea of where your game currently is. If you disagree with your current role as a player, make sure to discuss with your coach some of the ideas and concepts that we talked about. Find out from him or her what their expectations are of you as a player (both now and when you get your starting role). Your spare time should be spent either improving the needed skills for your current position/role on the team. Or you should spend it working on improving or developing skills that will help you in your future role.
The big take away from this activity should be that you need to be honest with who you are as a player. Don’t make believe you’re a point guard if you’re really a big man. Rondo would not be in the NBA if he wanted to be a shooting guard; KD wouldn’t be the most effective player if he was playing center and around the basket all of the time (even though he’s 6’9”); Lebron wouldn’t dominate on the offensive end if he slowed the ball down and played more tentatively (he’s too fast, strong, and athletic).
All of these players know who they are as a player, and yet know they need to improve to become a better version of themselves.
Who are you?
I could see the disappointment in his eyes.
No one wants to see their vertical jump go down. Especially more than an inch. The worst part of all is that it happened in less than 2 weeks.
What causes a vertical to drop from 32+” to 30” in a few days?
Too much stress, not enough recovery, poor diet, too little sleep – any and all of that will factor in to how you feel and how you perform. The challenge as a performance coach is manage all of these factors, while trying to balance life, school, and basketball at the same time. I mean, let’s be honest, most middle, high school, and college kids aren’t exactly focusing on these 4 pieces like they should be.
Despite what adults will tell you, high school is stressful. Sure it’s different than “adult” stress, but high school is stressful. Friends, girl/boy friends, school work, parent issues, coach issues, college issues – there are all kinds of stresses that can wreak havoc on your body.
The part of all of this stress is that’s cumulative. It continues to add up over time. So if you have a bad stretch during exams it may take you 2-3 weeks to recover from it. That can impact a basketball season significantly – I’m talking like 6-10 games. For some, a poor stretch like that can mean the difference between a great season and a crappy season.
The most important thing to remember when handling stress is to adjust your training accordingly. When I say training, I’m talking both lifting and skill work. These are two of the most important factors to having an athlete feel run-down over the course of a season and yet they’re two of the most easily controlled factors.
If you’re over-stressed I tell my athletes to reduce the number of total sets per lifting exercise to just 2-3 sets (this should be down from 3-5 sets). Next, reduce the amount of weight you use to a weight that simply feels “good.” I don’t care how light you go because if you go too heavy you’ll struggle recovering even more. Next, take out all of your extra skill work. Since you’re already practicing or playing games 6x/week, I’d recommend spending the extra court time either sleeping or recovering instead. Once you’re health you can add back in your skill work.
If your legs and body start to feel heavy (like you’re dragging your body around everywhere), start using cold bath or ice bath everyday.
During the past few years I’ve experimented with just regular ol’ cold baths at home in our bath tub. Nothing fancy – no bags of ice or whirlpool jets, just cold water and a stopwatch.
It works. I wasn’t sure if the water out of the faucet would get cold enough to help the recovery of my legs, but it does. I recommend about 10 minutes with your entire legs submerged in the water.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – there’s no way Shelby is going to convince me to get in that cold water. Ok, ok, I hear you. BUT, I said the exact same thing just a few years ago. The best trick I’ve found is that when you’re filling the baht you get in when there’s just a few inches of water. Quickly lower yourself in and out of the water (just enough so that the back side of your legs get wet) and then get out and wrap up in a towel.
On another side note, a great way to gauge your recovery is the dot test. To do the dot test, all you do is set a timer for 10 seconds (a stopwatch will do if needed), and make as many dots as you can (on a piece of paper, but I guess that goes without saying). You should perform this test first thing in the morning, before fatigue or stress has a chance to set in (within an hour after getting up). Make sure to count up your total number of dots. If your number of dots drops by 25% or more, you’re over-trained and need to focus more on overall recovery: sleep, nutrition, etc.
Look, I know what you’re thinking here….you want to see a diet plan laid out for you. You want me to tell you exactly what to eat, how much of it, when to eat it, and then all of a sudden you’ll have the body and game you desire.
I hate to break it to you, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t have you eat chicken and broccoli and end up looking like Lebron with a game like KD. No amount of chicken (fried or not) can do that. But let’s be honest, you want help and I’m here to do just that. So….
Nutrition in a single sentence: more lean meat (grass fed/free range if possible); lots of veggies (the more colors the better); a piece or two of fruit a day; more water (actually only water unless you use a protein shake during your workouts – and use coconut water for hydration instead of Gatorade). Eat lean chicken, beef, and pork; cucumbers, peppers, onions, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce; have banana, orange, pear, grapes, or any fruit that you’ll actually eat (gushers are not considered a fruit) and you’re most of the way there.
In all honesty, nutrition is really complex. I think most people can get 80% of the way to a healthy diet by taking the above advice, but after that you’ve got to tweak it for your individual needs. The more simple you can make it, the better.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard your parents say something along the lines of, “You need your sleep so you can grow big and strong.” Since I know you probably weren’t listening then, I’ll repeat that: “You need your sleep so you can grow big and strong.”
A lack of sleep reduces the amount of growth hormone released in the body. This effects everything from brain development to muscle growth. As youth are developing, sleep is one of the biggest factors in proper development and growth.
I’m not here to lecture you on the need of sleep (adults included), instead I’ll try to give you reasonable “things” you can try to improve your sleep time and quality.
- Set weekend goals. If you talk to any sleep experts (or read their research and books) they’ll tell you that routine is a huge factor for sleep quality. Rather than recommend sleeping-in on weekends, they recommend getting up at your normal time. My recommendation is to get up as close to your normal time as you can in order to achieve or work towards a “goal.” If you have something to get up for, you’re a whole lot more likely to do it. No time to lift? Now is the time. Want to get up some extra shots? Now is the time. Need to study the game? Now is the time.
- Complete outlines of the work you have to do at night, during the day. At a bare minimum, even if you don’t want to do all of the work (school work or otherwise), make an outline that you can follow later on in the day. This will save you time and effort. If you have a big project, outline the flow of it and the “big” pieces. Later on when you come in to fill it in, you’ll save time. Time saved = more sleep at night.
- Experts will recommend unplugging TV’s, computers, shutting off phones, etc. in order to help you get quality sleep. Since I’m a realist and understand that you’re not going to do all of that (not at first at least), I think you should take a few steps in that direction. Instead of looking at Facebook at 10pm at night, try reading for 30 minutes before bed. I would recommend this thing they call a book. Sure it’s old school, but it eliminates the illumination of a computer screen. If you don’t know where the library is, or want to start by reading blogs, Internet articles, or other technology-based pieces, I would recommend printing them out and reading them separate.
I always tell athletes that recovery is a complete life effort. It doesn’t stop: 24/7. The key to improving your recovery is taking baby steps so that you’re actually able to create habits.
For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Maine. Just like all great basketball stories, right?
One of the few advantages that Maine had was a nationally-renowned prep team that went by the letters – MCI. Incase you’ve never heard of MCI (the school recently cut the program), they dominated the prep basketball scene through the 80’s and 90’s. While they didn’t receive some of the notoriety that other programs received, they managed to send a ton of kids d-1 (more than 70 I believe), including multiple players who later went on to play in the NBA.
I was fortunate enough to see numerous MCI games growing up. On a couple weekends each year, my dad and I would make the hour and a half trip up to Pittsfield (the small town where MCI was located) to catch some prep tournament games.
Every time we went, we saw something special.
One game in-particular sticks out in my head. There was one game that my dad and I went to see at the Augusta Civic Center (the ACC of the northeast – keep your laughing to yourself please) where I witnessed perhaps the single greatest display of athleticism I’ve ever seen. To be honest, I can’t even remember the players name or where he was from, but I can remember his ability to move around the court.
In a game full of future division 1 stars, this guy was playing on a different level. Offensively he was able to explode by his defenders leaving them seemingly frozen and unable to move. He would slide through seemingly non-existent space between defenders and somehow end up at the rim to finish the play for an easy deuce. Defensively his ability to stop and go allowed to pressure the basketball to the point that his “game-speed” seemed to be straight out of a video game (to be more specific, straight out of my Nintendo – the original).
The guy was legit.
In a game full of freak athletes (virtually all are d-1 caliber, many at the highest levels of d-1), he was a man amongst boys.
So how did he do it?
Great question. While I don’t know what (if anything) he did, I can tell you that if you’re reading this, you probably want to improve your agility. You want to move quicker, more explosively, and dominate the court. And that I can help you with.
You see, agility is all about your ability to stop and go. That’s it’s. Get rid of all of the fancy language, terms, and drills that people fire at you. The bottom line is you need to stop faster, and go sooner. Do this, and you’ve improved your agility.
One of the biggest weaknesses in basketball players trying to improve their agility is just that – weakness. If you aren’t strong enough to stop yourself when you change direction (deceleration) or strong enough to get going again (acceleration) you won’t move as efficiently as you can, or should. I always tell my athletes, ‘the quicker you stop, the quicker you can go.’
One of the my best kept secrets with regards to improving an athletes ability to stop is known as “eccentric” training. The term eccentric is a fancy-shmancy term for the contraction of a group of muscles while they lengthen. In other words, eccentric training is focusing on the lowering of the weight during a movement (lowering into a squat; lowering the bar to your chest on the bench press, etc.).
When I refer to eccentric training, I’m referring to a really slow lowering of the weight. Typically, when I have my athletes work on this portion of the lifts, we do so to improve the ability of the athlete to decelerate (slow down). Showing control/strength through the various movements we use in the weight room, helps show me that an athlete is progressing in terms of their ability to control their body. This control will help the athlete ‘stop’ quicker on the court.
If you’re looking for a little hcange to your current workout, or want to work on your ability to stop quicker, try using a 4-2-1 tempo in your current workout. What does “4-2-1” mean? That’s the tempo of the exercise. The “4” means the lowering (or eccentric part of the movement); the “2” means the pause or transition between the lower and the raise; and the “1” means the raising (or concentric part of the movement).
I would recommend using this 421 tempo on all movements you are currently doing (any exercises are fair game). Start with 3 sets of 5 reps at a 421 tempo. Incase I didn’t mention it yet, because you’re going much much slower than you normally would move, you need to reduce the weight significantly. I typically have athletes use the same weight for 5 reps of 4-2-1 as they would for 10-12 ‘normal’ reps.
I’ll be honest: eccentric training sucks! It really does. You’re using less weight, the burn is crazy, and it’s hard mentally to push through. If you’re able to complete the training though, you’ll find that your ability to control your body is much better than before, and in addition it’ll help you build muscle.
I’m a lot more like you than you probably think.
When I first tried to get into weight training it was a complete disaster. Somewhere during my middle school years (6th-8th grade) my dad decided that I should probably start working out. While it was a great idea, and something that I should probably be giving my dad props for, instead I hated him for it. We bought this god-awful multi-station home gym – you know the type that have 1531 different attachments and exercises designed to get your body ripped and strong…
Well, it didn’t work.
No offense to the creators of the Jackedathlete3000, but it didn’t deliver. I couldn’t even enjoy it enough to do it more than probably a handful of times (that’s including the number of times I sat on it to watch TV). These days when a proud parent comes up to me and asks if one of these things will help their child reach the elite level, I politely reply, “No. Don’t waste your money buying these piece of metal. Instead spend the money on a barbell and some plates and learn how to lift.” The $200 you spend on a 300lb barbell set (or less if you can find used stuff on craigslist) will help you a lot more.
Fast forward into late high school and by the end of my junior year I finally got my first introduction to real weight training. Somewhere around March or April I got a gym membership and started pumping some iron (insert Arnold Schwarzenegger accent). I trained hard for about 6 months and then completely stopped right before basketball season started – big mistake. I promised myself I would lift through basketball, but the gym closed down, and I was too lazy to get a membership somewhere else. Consequently, I lost about 7lbs of muscle, felt weak, and lost much of my explosiveness. The following March after my senior season ended, I started lifting again – at almost the same point I was one year before.
At this point in life, I still didn’t enjoy training. The results – bigger muscles, increased strength/explosiveness, and improved confidence is awesome, and I enjoy those a lot! But, actually doing the exercise…booooo. It sucked. And to be honest, to this day, there are a lot of days that I don’t want to workout still.
If this sounds like you, listen-up, ya heard?! There’s hope, and I’ve found what I believe to be the best solution for us: working-out-sucks-I-would-rather-be-doing-something-else athlete. The two day a week solution.
By training just 2 days a week, consistently, you can make a TON of progress. I’ve seen athletes set PR’s in the weight room and improve performance by training no more than 45 minutes twice a week. No bull$h*t. It works, and it works well.
If you’re already in-season start with the following workout done 2 times a week (if you can always space the days out so that you have an extra day of recovery before a game day – however, if you don’t have that luxury, the workout won’t negatively impact your game. I repeat – WORKING OUT THE DAY BEFORE A GAME WILL NOT NEGATIVELY IMPACT YOUR GAME.)
A. Goblet Squats 3 x 5
B. Bench Press 3 x 3 (ramp weight – start light and increase each set until you get to a hard set of 3 for last set)
C. SLRDL (single leg romanian deadlifts) – 3 x 8e (use DB’s, BB, or KB for weight)
D. Single Arm DB Row 3 x 8e
Typically I would throw in a core movement or a mobility movement in between each movement. With goblet squats, I may have you do some extra ankle mobility. I would throw in some landmines with my benching. Maybe do some prone planks or other anterior core during my SLRDL’s. With the dumbbell rows I would probably sprinkle in something extra that my team (or myself) needed. *Side note, I definitely wouldn’t do extra curls, as my arms are already ‘just-too-swole’ to add anymore size too. I have a feeling that my shirt sleeves would be angry if I did.
For the second day you lift, you could either repeat the same lifts as you did on day 1 (I advise this for athletes without any or very minimal weight lifting experience). Feel free to replace your squatting with back squats or front squats if you would like as well.
A. Trapbar Deadlift or DB Deadlift 3 x 5
B. Push-up variation 3 x 8-20 (reps determined by variation of push-up)
C. Pull-Ups or chin-ups 3 x AMAP (add weight if you can do more than 8-10)
D. Lateral Squats 3 x 8e
I would throw in some hip flexor or posterior hip stretching with my deadlifts. Superset your push-ups with some inverted rows or a seated row exercise. Since most basketball players need lots of ankle mobility, I would hit up the ankle mobility again during the rest time of your pull-ups. Add in some extra core work during your lateral squats.
Now, maybe you’re still skeptical that lifting in-season can actually help you make progress? Have no fear. The NSCA’s Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research just published a study that showed that adolescent basketball players were able to improve their explosiveness. The summary (abstract) reads as follows: “Coaches should know that such a short resistance training program specifically designed for young basketball players induce increased explosivity levels, which are essential to a better basketball performance, with no extra overload on adolescents’ skeletal muscle development.” (Santos EJ, and Janeira, MA).
Cut the BS and start training. No more complaining about lifting hurting your shot (boo-hoo), not having time, or waiting until the off-season.
Santos EJ, and Janeira, MA. The Effects of Resistance Training on Explosive Strength Indicators in Adolescent Basketball Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2012, 26, Oct. P 2641-2647.
“Find me a cardboard box. I’ll just jump over that.”
I was out in my driveway, setting up my first plyometric training program with my dad. While a slightly sloped driveway isn’t the ideal situation for training your vertical, I, just like everyone who wears their first pair of Jordan’s dreams – wanted to dunk.
Earlier that day I had fired up the old computer, complete with dial-up internet connection (for those that don’t know what dial-up is, be thankful, and just understand it was like watching The Sound of Music – slow, boring, and sounds that would make you cringe) to find a plyo program. Unlike these days on the world wide web, there weren’t lots of legit trainers who posted information for free or next to nothing. Instead we had to rely on trying to find a single program that perhaps could give us some idea of what we were trying to do (kind of like those awful questions on aptitude tests in school – you never really know what they’re asking).
While I assumed that this program was legit, (I mean c’mon, it was on the internet, everything on the internet has got to be true – it’s on the internet after all) I still wanted to make sure that I made the progress that I needed to make in order to throw down! I figured that if some training is good, more has got to be better – right? So rather than simply do the plyo program as it was written, I decided to borrow a friend of mine’s Jump Soles (R).
*As a little background on me at this point in my basketball career: I was 15 years old, going into my sophomore year in high school. I was a thin, ok – skinny (about 125lbs), and about 5’5/5’6”. I had been able to touch the bottom side of the bracket (about 6 inches below the rim) and was naturally very fast twitch dominant (meaning I am more explosive but not as great as distance or endurance training). Up to this point I had never done any real formal training for improving my athletic ability – other than simply being active.
For those that don’t know, strength shoes are specila shoes that are deisgned to overload the calf complex by stretching the achilles tendon and calf complex. The concept of the shoe is that is forces the calves to support 100% of the body weight or impact (upon landing on the ground).
While most of the statements made on the site are mostly true, it’s important to understand that research (and my experience) shows that training with a proper training program will get the same results as training with the same program using Strength Shoes (1,2,3,4). In other words, there is no statistical difference in jump heigth or improvement in performance when comparing those using Strength Shoes versus those using regular shoes.
So, back to the lecture at hand (cue the Dr. Dre and Snoop music), I bet you’re wondering what happened to my vertical when I started using jump soles?
Great question. My vertical improved significantly. Despite using a junk training program that was completely random and came for FREE offline, I was able to improve my vertical up to the point that it got as high as 36” during the start of my sophomore year. I was able to dunk a small (mini) basketball running off of 1-leg despite being only 5’6”. I couldn’t palm a basketball due to my small hands (don’t laugh), so I’m not really sure if I had enough height to throw down a regular men’s ball.
Unfortunately about 2 months into my sophomore year, right at the tail end of soccer season, two torn meniscus’ forced me into surgery (I’d been playing on them torn for nearly 3 years at that point) and my vertical wasn’t the same again until my senior year. While it’d be boss to tell you that I crossed up a defender, broke his ankles, took it to the rack and elevated up over a 6’8” guy and threw down an and-1…in the state championship – it didn’t happen like that. Instead I was forced to miss more than half of that basketball season to an injury and wasn’t actually in game shape until we lost a preliminary playoff game in February.
I am not sure what my vertical jump started out at when I started this training program. I can guess it was in the 28-30” range. My training program (from what I can remember), consisted of plyo’s 3 days a week with a day of rest in between. The training took me about 30-40 minutes and consisted of 4 or 5 different exercises: Jumps over Box (cardboard box – all directions) x 4 reps each way; standing squat jumps (with counter-movement) x 6 reps; jump shot jumps (practice footwork into a jump shot w/o ball x 4 reps each way; tuck jumps x 8 reps; and running 1 footed rim jumps (just like trying to touch rim) x 4 each way. Each exercise was repeated for 3-4 sets and I rested as much time as I needed to be fully recovered and achieve maximum height (typically 1-2 minutes).
You’d think that after all of that success I’d be raving about the strength shoes. I mean, I improved my vertical somewhere between 6 and 8 inches; was able to dunk a small basketball; and figured I’d be bangin’ on fools by my Junior year at the latest.
Plyo programs work, but, they should be reserved for periods of 6-12 week blocks 1-2 times per year after having completed a solid strength program during the rest of the time. Remember that plyo programs are designed to take advantage of the “strength” that your body already has and turn that into “power.” If you never improve your strength, the plyo’s won’t do anything for your power (coincidentally, this is why most jumping programs don’t work as well for people on their second and third times trying them). My experience shows that regardless of what shoe you wear, a solid plyo program will improve your vertical. Rather than spend $100+ dollars on shoes to help you jump, spend that money on a training program that is legit. My UGTS has plyo’s built right into the training program (along with strength), which is why my athletes routinely see increases in their vertical year-round and for their entire career. If you want to use a jumping program for an intensification period in the off-season, I recommend the Jump Manual- it’s specifically designed to help athletes jump higher – with non of the BS that a lot of programs have. A jump-specific program should be reserved for no more than about 12-weeks total during an entire 52-week year (either one 12-week period or two 6 week periods). Sometimes athletes can do more, but I recommend starting with no more than 12-weeks.
While the Jump Soles that I borrowed didn’t cost me any money, they were essential useless in terms of helping me improve my vertical. Now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that I could have achieved at least the same amount of improvement in just my regular shoes. As a matter of fact, at least one study, by Ramsey, showed that athletes showed a significant improvement in their vertical when they did NOT use Jump Shoes (5). How’s that for a knowledge bomb?!
1. Porcari et al. Effects of Training in Strength Shoes on 40 Yard Dash Time, Jumping Ability, and Calf Girth. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 1996, Vol. 10, Issue 2.
2. Nicopoulou et al. The Evaluation of the Influence of Strength Shoe as an Effective Supplement to a twelve week Training Program on the Vertical Jump Improvement of Male and Female Greek Basketball Players. Coaching & Sport Science Journal; 1998: Vol. 3, issue 2. P 7-12.
3.Cody, S.M. The Effects of The Strength Shoe on Vertical Jump Performance in Male Collegiate Basketball Players. Microform Publications, University of Oregon. 1992.
4. Waggener, W.R., Gehlsen, G.M., and Massey, J.C. The Effects of a Plyometric Training Shoe on Vertical Jump Height, Speed, and Power. International Journal of Volleyball Research. 1999: Vol. 1, Issue 1. P 1-6.
5. Ramsey, J.K. Influence of the Strength Shoe and Three Plyometric Drills on the Strength, Velocity, and Jumping Ability of High School Football Players. Microform Publications, University of Oregon. 1993.
What’d you grab during your Black Friday shopping?
If you’re like most people, you ate your Thanksgiving dinner (in the US), and then took a quick afternoon nap. After your nap you packed up your ride and hit the trails looking for the best of the best deals. So, what’d you grab?
A Plasma TV?
Some sweet kicks?
While having those things are great (I love gadgets as much as anyone), I’m always amazed at the amount of money that people spend on ‘things,’ that won’t make make dramatic improvements in their daily life. Sure, new kicks may help you look the part of being a true baller, but I promise you that they won’t put the ball in the hoop or help you throw down. I mean, you don’t see highlights on YouTube of people wearing cool shoes during games do you? Instead you see this,
Trust me, I’m not tryin to hate.
I’m trying to keep you in check and make sure you that realize you only get one chance at this basketball gig. You can’t revive it when you’re 40 and expect to make a run at the NBA and be an All-Star. Doesn’t work like that.
Instead of buying the 50” plasma, opt for the 42” and spend the extra $100 on something that will improve your game: DVD’s, online training, camps, etc. You’ll find that spending just a small amount of money per month (even just $10-$20) can dramatically change your game.
Here is a sample program that you can do for nothing – I mean $0. No cost what-so-ever.
As a matter of fact, skip the fancy shoes, save the plasma for watching highlights of yourself after you start training, and wait on the iPad to edit your dunk highlights.
A. Front Squat/Back Squat/Goblet Squats – 5 x 5 – Utilize whatever movement you are comfortable with and can do based on your equipment. If you have none of the above, go with a sandbag or something you can hold at your chest in a zercher position. Make sure to focus on exploding and accelerating out of the bottom position no matter how heavy the weight is.
A. Box Jumps – 5 x 5 – If you don’t have a set of plyo boxes at home you can use a stairwell (with closed stairs, as falling between steps can do some major damage on your shins). If you don’t have either, you can do squat jumps instead. It’s important to maximize the height of your jump by resetting between each jump and giving an all out effort.
*As a side note, it’s important to complete the box jumps immediately after your squats. This is called post-activation potentiation. Basically it’s a fancy term to say that the body will create more force on the box jumps by doing the heavy squats before hand. You should also make sure that you rest enough between sets; allow 3 minutes or so before going back to repeat your second set of squats and jumps.
B. Bench Press or Weighted Push-Ups – 3 x 5 – If you have access to a bench press, feel free to use it. Because of the set-up of the bench it allows for easily overloading the pushing pattern – it’s much easier to add extra resistance to a bench press than to a push-up. If you don’t have a bench press you can use bands, plates, or chains to add resistance to your push-ups. If you can’t do 5 legit push-ups (gym class push-ups don’t count), start adding push-up iso’s to your daily routine (lower 1/3 of the way down in a regular push-up, hold for 3 sec, then lower 2/3 way down, hold for 3 sec, then lower to the bottom of a push-up and hold for 3 more seconds – that’s 1 rep – repeat for 3 reps).
B. Clap Push-ups or push-ups with a shoulder tap – 3 x 5 – If you can do clap push-ups, congrats, keep doing them. If you can’t, feel free to do push-ups with a shoulder tap (explosively push-up and then reach your opposite arm to opposite shoulder – make sure to alternate between reps). If you can’t do a solid push-up, elevate yourself and make it easier on yourself so that you can do them correctly.
C. RDL or DB RDL – 3 x 8 – Use a barbell, 2 DB’s, or 1 DB. All that matters is that you overload the hamstrings (the back of your upper leg) and glutes (butt). Minimal soreness in your low back is ok. If you’re waking up and can’t touch your toes because your back is tight, you’re doing something wrong. Keep in mind that you need to push your hips back (feel the stretch in the hammy’s) and then squeeze your glutes to get your hips through.
C. Long Jump to rim jump – 3 x 5 – It’s important to make sure that you jump up and out on the long jump so that you can land with your feet underneath you. This is important to make sure that you can use that energy from the long jump to help you go into your vertical jump/rim jump. If done correctly, you should notice that you can jump higher by using the long jump first, instead of just a regular vertical jump. It’s also more game like. Picture yourself driving down the lane and jump stopping before exploding up the rim (ala Derrick Rose) – long jump to rim jump.
*Just as with the Box jumps, it’s important to fully recover between sets to allow yourself to be 100% on each jump. If you’re tired you’ll be doing P90X not training for basketball. There’s a reason that no NBA teams are using P90X – if it worked wonders don’t you think they’d be using it?
Repeat this training 3-4x/week and you should start to notice a difference in muscle tone, vertical jump, and strength on the court.
There are two types of athletes: the ones who will over-train and do too much training (both on the court and in the weight room), and the ones that don’t want to put in the work to get better and just wish for success. Weak sauce.
If you’re the second type, unfortunately I can’t really help you and this article won’t address any of the ways for you to commit yourself to becoming better on a daily basis. Instead go grab a copy of the NBA 2k for PS3 or Xbox and tell me how your self-created player has improved his or her game since last season (blah blah blah). However, for those of you who are serious about playing college basketball (in the flesh and not in video games) this may be the most important article you’ve ever read.
If you plan on playing basketball for as long as you can, wheher it be high school, college, or professional, you better be prepared to work. For however logn you continue to play, you’ll be expected to work on your game both on teh court and in the weightroom almost year-round. With the amount of time and effort that it takes to continue to improve it can take a real toll on the body. 2+ hour long practices followed by skill work and shooting can wreak havoc on your legs. Throw in some plyo’s and jump training and add in some work in the weight room and all of sudden you have a recipe for disaster.
Despite all of the demands of the sport of basketball, you can easily improve your game year-round by training properly both on and off of the court. After helping countless ahtletes (including myself) navigate in-season training I’ve come up with the following rules to keep you both healthy, happy, and ready to play at almost any point in your basketball career.
1. Take at least 1 day off per week. I don’t care what people tell you about taking a day off. It’s good for the body and mind. I’m not saying be lazy, but allow yourself some time to recover if you’re working hard for the rest of the week. This doesn’t mean you can’t go play pick-up basketball, or a beach volleyball game, but don’t do anything planned or structured. I like to tell my athletes to go do something ‘fun’ that they enjoy other than their normal sport(s). Plus, perhaps this extra day will allow you to go the beach and show off your new body. Sun’s out, guns out!
2. Train with weights 2 times per week in season. You’ll find the time, trust me. If you really want to be great, reach down, grab you know what, and find time. It doesn’t have to be long. A 10-20 minute workout of some simple lifts like goblet split squats, pull-ups, push-ups, and KB swings can be done after practice with minimal equipment or effort. If you can find (I really mean make) time, allow your workouts in-season to go about an hour or so. This will allow you to get everything you need to get done including strength work, flexibility work, core, mobility, explosiveness, etc. If you want to be better than anyone you know, start right here and do this, at the end of the season you’ll look, feel, and perform better than you did at the start of the season.
3. Train with weights 3-4 times per week in the off-season. While there is no real off-season anymore for competitive basketball players – which is part of the reason why I say lifting twice a week in-season is so important, during your most down periods of competition you need to be seriously training 3-4 times a week. What you do and how you split it up depends on a lot of factors. In my UGTS I give advice on how you can perform the program depending on the amount of time you have. In general, you want to go with either an upper body/lower body split (1 day of each – rotate the days); or a total body lift each day. You should make more progress in this period of time than any other.
4. Do no more than 1-2 hours of extra skill work on-court. Sometimes when you struggle on the court your goal is to put in tons of extra time and crank up another 300-400 shots per day, work on ball handling, or whatever it may be. I know, we’ve all heard of the stories about Ray Allen getting there early and going through his shooting routine. The difference between you and Ray (amongst other things) is that he is in the NBA. Basketball is his job. He doesn’t have school, class, girlfriends or boyfriends (at least that I know of), and gets paid very nicely to play basketball. He’s also got people to rebound, do massage therapy, stretch him, cook for him, and whole host of other support that most of us (myself included) just don’t have. Therefore he can do things that most of us can’t, including shoot 2 hours a day, lift, play games, and make millions of dollars. Instead of dwelling on it, focus on putting in no more than 1-2 hours while you’re in-season and bump up the time and intensity in your off-season or down time.
5. Limit extra skill work to no more than 30 minute sessions. This goes along with the above. In-season I think players should get off the court sooner than they think they should. I’ve been there, I get it. It feels productive to get up extra shots, but to be honest it doesn’t seem to help that much (at least not a lot in my experience). Understand that I’m not talking about avoiding extra work, just keeping it short and sweet. After a long practice the last thing you should do is kill yourself (mentally and physically) by spending another hour or two on the court. Instead spread it out over the week in short 15-30 minute sessions. Put in some quality work with a coach or teammate and then get off the court and recover. This will make you focus on getting something productive done since you only have a short time and it will keep you from throwing up 25 half court shots or seeing who can make the most ridiculous shot. You don’t get bonus points for making tough shots in games.
There you have it. 5 ways to balance your in-season training.
If there’s one thing that I tell athletes every year during the first week of the season, it’s to make sure that you manage your soreness and fatigue during the first few weeks of the season. There is no worse way to start a season than to be incredibly sore or have your legs feel like jello. Tough to make a jump shot when you can’t leave the floor.
It all starts with day 1.
From the first tryout or practice, you want to set the tone for the rest of the season. No different than playing hard and setting the tone on the court and in the locker room, you want to set the tone from a recovery standpoint. This means that you should do a few simple things everyday:
1) Foam Roll – It’s really important to overall health of the muscles and tissues to keep them functioning properly. You don’t have to go crazy with the roll, but using it for a few minutes before practice and after practice or at night (if needed) will make a huge difference in terms of how sore you are and how you feel. If you’ve never foam rolled before, expect it to hurt. It will be tender and painful if you have tight muscles. This is normal and will pass as your tissues loosen up over time. Work the entire lower body with the roll for about
To be honest, for the cost of a 3ft. foam roll (about $25-$30) you can get 3 shorter (1ft.) rolls out of it and have them be travel size (fit in a bag) and not take up so much of the floor in a locker room before games. If I were advising a coach or a team on some of the best investments for your money – the foam roll would be up there as one of the top 2 or 3 options and immediate purchases. Everything will benefit from health and recovery to flexibility (yes that’s right, rolling makes you more flexible).
Check out my foam rolling video here.
Dynamic Stretching – Use of dynamic stretching is a must. It should be done a daily basis as part of prep for the court. Forget the fact that it helps “warm” you up. I love dynamic stretching (dynamic warm-up) because it helps develop essential movements that every player needs for the court (ie lunges, lateral lunges, shuffles, etc.). If you have a dynamic warm-up you like, go with it. The important thing is that you are covering all basic movements and getting through a full range of motion (this will help keep you flexible without static stretching).
Ice bath/cold bath- There is debate amongst professionals (and research) as to why ice baths work. You know what, who cares?! The bottom line is that it does. Anytime you have a tough practice, training session, or lift, it’s wise to hit the ice bath. Too cold for you? Awww, don’t later tell your friend how tough you are then if you can’t even spent 10 minutes in cold water to help yourself out. Does it suck the first time you do it? Sure does. But to be honest, the pluses easily outweigh the minuses. Once you do it once you’ll be in love.
The good news is that you don’t have to have ice either. There are benefits from using just ice cold water right out of the tap and into your bath tub at home. I don’t have regular access to an ice bath so I spend my time in a regular bath tub filled with cold water.
A couple tips on getting in cold water: I usually get my feet in first with just a couple inches of water (when the tub is filling). I then slowly lower by legs down to just touch the water a couple times. I then get back out of the bath and let it fill and wrap myself in a towel. Once it’s full, I go back in full-fledge and submerged up to my waist. For some reason it seems much easier to get in the water after that initial “warm-up.”
Drink water and hydrate – drink more water. ‘Nuf said. In addition, I like to have athletes consume a hydration drink around practice/training. Gatorade or any sports drink will work, but I prefer coconut water. It’s natural, has significantly less crap in it, and makes an immediate difference. Vitacoco is by far the best out there. I’ve tried them all and most taste like pure chemicals and processed coconut. Don’t waste your money or your time and go straight to Vitacoco. In addition they offer some fruit flavored ones that are pretty good.
One complaint is the cost of coconut water. Yes, it’s not cheap. However, what you can do is drink a smaller amount of coconut water and then finish off your hydration with regular water. At that point you’re probably right around the same cost and it’s a whole lot healthier.
Hope this helps you during your tryouts and pre-season training.
Nearly every athlete that I see would like to see improvements in speed, quickness, and agility.
The majority of the time the parent or athlete has an idea of what they need to do for training to get better (or at least that’s what they think). Often times athletes need more than simply plyometrics (typically the first idea an athlete has when they need to improve agility), and often times the most improvement will be seen by focusing on flexibility and strength.
Yes, flexibility and strength are the two qualities that I’ve seen work more than any other. Flexibility, or more specifically, dynamic flexibility, is what is going to allow a player to get into an optimal offensive or defensive position. Being lower and more on balance (dynamic flexibilty) means that you can control your body more effectively. Strength on the other hand, is the foundation to control your agility. Stong muscles will allow you to control your bones and jooints; without adding strength you won’t be able to control your body as well.
It’s important to remember that agility is about being able to stop and go quickly. That player you see that is all over the court and crazy-annoying because he/she looks quicker than everyone – yeah that’s agility at its best.
Dynamic Flexility – There’s nothing sexy about training dynamic flexibility. It won’t give you huge shoulders, arms, or a chest. And to your friends won’t ask, ‘how much do you bench?’ if they want to know how agile you are. But, the ability to lower, wider, and do so with minimal effort will help you: get in defensive position, get low by a defender, stop quicker, start faster, reduce injuries, and make you more athletic.
One of my favorite lower body drills is the squat circuit. In The squat circuit you will perform 3 different squatting movements, all designed to improve dynamic flexibility (flexibility while moving).
Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/JGRY3egdMY4
Strength – If you’re thinking that your leg press, leg curl, or leg extension numbers are going to impress me, they’re not. That’s so 1990’s. Instead work on training strength in a more functional manner – on your feet. If you’re already doing squatting and deadlifting variations, try multi-planar movements (movements that go side to side and rotational). Basketball is a sport where players rarely go in a straight line. Because of this, it’s important that there strength movements that help train your body to move in directions other than simply straight.
Here are 3 of my favorite multi-planar lower body strength exercises. Each one trains strength in a different way. Typically athlete will perform between 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps each leg.
Lateral Goblet Squats - http://youtu.be/32ElZk7Qz-A
Step-Behinds - http://youtu.be/M3GHhyhzzr0
SL Excursions - http://youtu.be/CnsWg5j3waI
It’s important to have multi-direction/planar strength movements as well as dynamic flexibility in your regular training. Add these movements to your training and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more agile basketball.
I don’t want to jinx myself, so I’m not going to say it (and I’m gonna knock on wood) but I’ve had good luck with keeping my athletes injury free. The worst of the injuries happened last summer when one of my athletes dropped a bar on their toe and broke it (1 week of no lower body weights, within 2 weeks back to normal routine). It’s a long story that I’ll save for another time…
The other day I received an email from a reader asking about rehabbing their daughters ACL surgery: what should they be doing for exercises, sets/reps, how to prevent issues down the road, etc. While I’m not a Dr., and I do advise you to consult with your orthopedic doctor/surgeon and/or the physical therapist that may or may not be rehabbing your athlete, I’ve decided to include a some advice.
While ACL’s prevention training is, so – 2009, it’s important to understand that it’s nothing to be played with. There are more than 100,000 ACL injuries every year and between 70-84% are non-contact. So if 3/4 of the injuries happen as a result of movement, there should be something we can do about them, right? Right. The most important thing you can do is put a training program in place today. According to a recent review study by Herman et al, a warm-up (with no equipment) reduces the likelihood of injury and can prevent everything from anterior knee pain to ACL injuries. Check out that study here: (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7015-10-75.pdf)
I know there are programs out there aimed at preventing ACL injuries; truth be told, some are decent, some lack a little shall I say…substance. Most of them are based off of the premise of two things: 1) knee position, and 2) conditioning (fatigue). While both are correct in terms of issues associated with much of the ACL literature, my problem with these programs is that they don’t focus on the fundamental fact that ACL prevention is based on the feet and the hips – not the knees.
I’m sure you’ve seen it before, a video depicting that a girls knees fall valgus (knock kneed) as she lands from a jump. The presenter will then go on about how we need to prevent this and cue the athlete out of this to help prevent it. I would agree that we need to prevent this. My argument is that it’s more than simply just coaching the athlete into proper position. Telling them that they need to keep their knees out and ‘don’t cave,’ will help, but it’s probably not going to save any surgeries. Instead, layer movements so that exercises move from static to dynamic and slowly integrate each piece as the training moves forward.
I’m sure you’ve also heard about the overwhelming research talking about hamstrings strength relative to quad strength in athletes (female in particular). While it’s true that there tends to be a discrepancy, I would argue that training the hamstrings to balance out the quads is just plain good training. Am I wrong? When was the last time that you as a coach did something incorrect on purpose?
So, without further ado, here are 5 tips on preventing or rehabbing ACL injuries. Keep in mind, this type of training is already integrated into my normal training programs (I would like to believe that this is part of the reason why my athletes have stayed so healthy).
1) Balance Training – Start with static balance training. No jumping, no discs, BOSU’s, or balance pads. Make sure that you can stabilize on the floor first. From here it’s important to move into some balancing on unstable surfaces (just for a bit of proprioception), but NOT too much. I see lots of PT’s have their kids practice ridiculous balancing acts because it’s ‘hard.’ Sure, standing on a disc or BOSU is challenging, but so is running through an intersection blind folded. My typical argument with training an athlete on an unstable surface (disc, BOSU, airex, etc.) is this: you’re teaching an athlete to stabilize on an unstable surface in a stable environment (they aren’t moving like they would in normal play). In normal sporting activities, the athlete is performing on a stable surface (court, floor, field, etc.) where there is minimal to no change in surface, yet the environment (themselves, other players, etc.) is constantly changing.
I get that there is some value to using balance training. However, there is a point where the issue is to get the athlete to dynamically stabilize in a more ‘real’ setting similar to them being back on the field. Last time I checked kids weren’t playing on a BOSU-based field….oh wait, there are Nike Air’s still out there right?
2) Controlled Multi-Planar training. When the ACL boom hit a few years ago, all of a sudden everyone was on the latest research and started implementing landing technique exercises and all that jazz. From there they were often quick to put an athlete into agility drills thinking that somehow, this miraculously game-like drill would prevent issues. So now training an athlete similarly to how they would get hurt is going to prevent injuries? The missing link was controlled multi-planar movements (hopping, jumping, and landing in a controlled environment).
If you really want to take the stability to the next level make sure that you add in exercises and drills that focus on single movements and bilateral (two-legs) that gradually build upon each other. Start with a controlled landing; next add in a controlled landing and take off; next add in a predictable movement at an unpredicted time (ie partner will stop but you don’t know when). Want some help with exercise progressions, follow this order:
Sagittal Plane – straight foward or straight line. Think running, sprinting, etc.
Frontal Plane – side to side. Think shuffling.
Transverse Plane – rotational. Think most true sporting movements where an athlete has to stop and go at different times, speeds, and movements.
As much as it goes against the grain, I like to start with single leg training over bilateral. First start with hops going forward and backward on 1 foot. Focus on landing just in front of the heel and “sticking” the landing. You should not be up on the ball of your foot with the heel off of the ground (this leads to quad dominance and typically knee pain), you should be landing with your whole foot on the ground but the pressure on the front half of your foot. If you are landing with your foot slapping the ground or making a big ‘thud’ you’re hitting too far back on your heel. By focusing on striking just in front of the heel you should have the pressure on the front half of your foot, but the whole foot down to control stopping and going effectively. Next work into side to side hops on 1 leg. From there, start working on rotating (typically 90 degrees to start) in both directions on both feet.
Check out this video for single leg exercises that will not only prevent ACL tears, but also help improve your vertical: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MZqL0y5FbQ&feature=share&list=UUzBsOHxGYFIgfTjIPq4VMCg
I will continue to have athletes progress in hopping (single leg), jumping (two legs) and eventually progress into more agility-based movements as they show control. Meanwhile, it’s important to understand that I’ll also be training the feet and hips at the same time to help ingrain and build good neuromuscular control (see below).
3) Training at the Feet and Hips. The two forgotten parts of preventing ACL injuries are the feet and hips. Unfortunately, they are the reason that the knee takes the brunt of the injury. Poor foot contacts with the ground, and poor hip control and strength, mean that the knee will be put in a vulenrable position (ie twisting and bending in directions you don’t want it to).
One simple fix for this is to start replacing all of your bilateral training with unilateral training. Instead of doing bilateral squats (front squat, back squat, goblet squats) do split squats, SL elevated squats, and counter squats. Next, do the same with all of your deadlifting movements. *Oh, and if you’re on the leg press, do me a favor and get off of it and on your feet instead. Except for reruns of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, nothing makes me more angry than a young athlete leg pressing. By getting yourself on one leg instead of two, you are forcing the hip stabilizer muscles to fire more and help control the knee. This is very iimportant in keeping an athlete functioning on the field of play.
I alwasys have my athletes warm-up first and typically we do some band walks, clams or some other exercises to help get the hips (glutes) firing first before we put them in strength movements. This helps the athlete do the movement correctly and effectively. Band Walks - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcTkyqrOzJY&feature=share&list=UUzBsOHxGYFIgfTjIPq4VMCg
Also make sure to work on proper foot contacts via drills like jumprope, agility ladder, etc. This is very important because the foot is often times the last resort for controlling everything else above. Remember, front half of the foot – NOT the ball of the foot. An athlete should be trying to focus on having solid contact but being springy with the feet and controlling the ground contact. I have lots of videos on foot contacts on my YouTube page, but here are some of my favorite ladder drills http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj1wfv6LhfU&feature=share&list=UUzBsOHxGYFIgfTjIPq4VMCg
Start improving your training program by first integrating the above principles into your daily program. It can take as little as 10 minutes of proper training to help prevent major injuries. If you’re a coach you should have your entire team do this off court before they set foot onto the court each day for practice. If you’re a player, you can start adding this training in before your workouts or individual skill work on your own.