2021 April/May (Volume XXXI, No. 2)

Basketball Strength Training: Make Your Next Season the Best Season

Any coach who has experienced any type of success will tell you how crucial the offseason is for a team’s improvement and a player’s development. The offseason is a time that makes average players good and good players great. The offseason is a time for teams to develop comradery, discipline, toughness, and cohesiveness.   Even though […]

Developing Effective Training Routines In Tennis Players

It was the summer of 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio when I saw Roger Federer training a day before his opening match. He had three sparring partners on the court. They rotated against him in increments of three to five minutes. It lasted roughly fifty intensive minutes for him. I was impressed by the physical component […]

Increasing your Power Index for Strength & Conditioning

In the sporting world, the main reason for partaking in a strength and conditioning program is to provide a benefit to athletic performance. One of the critical features of a good strength and conditioning program will be a strong transferability to sports performance which, hopefully, will be as high as possible. For power athletes in […]

Laser Therapy: The Best Kept Secret in Recovery

What if there was a rehabilitative therapy that treated acute injuries better than ice; one that didn’t create chemical dependencies or require going under the knife? Is there something out there that can relieve the searing phantom pain felt by amputees or war veterans who’ve suffered years of back pain from degenerative disc disease by […]

Merryman’s Upgrade Makes Merry Men of Tech Football

The Virginia Tech Football strength and conditioning center has been transformed into a dynamic training area to meet the current and future needs of the program. This $4.5 million renovation and expansion project nearly doubled the functional workout space of the facility, located in the Merryman Center. The total square footage increased from approximately 6,900 […]

Physical Activity and Its Role in Appetite Regulation

Competitive athletes all have a common goal: to optimize performance and recovery. This happens through training to enhance technical skills and through physiological adaptation. Optimal performance, recovery, and physiological adaptation all have ties to nutrition, and similar to training, nutrition habits for top physical performance need a well-developed plan. Some goals of nutrition to support […]

Protecting the Adolescent Arm, Part II — What Can You Do?

Last March I wrote an article on protecting the adolescent arm just before COVID-19 invaded our lives. High school baseball as-well-as just about everything else shut down for the next two to three months because of the coronavirus outbreak and young athletes everywhere were left with few options to play. Some club baseball programs were […]

See-Worthy: Seek Scan Helping Athletics Return

As the country embarks on a return to normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, how can athletic facilities ensure the health and safety of its staff and spectators? With athletics returning on a wide-spread level and spectator capacity, as well as in-person personnel, increasing, how can facilities efficiently examine those who enter the space and limit […]

Sparta Science Keeps Players Playing, Coaches Coaching

Nearly half a million student-athletes compete in one of the 24 sanctioned sports by the NCAA — more than ever before. With that ever-growing number comes the bigger need of keeping them in the game. Studies show that per every 10,000 individuals, more than 2000 suffer injuries, and separate studies show that 90 percent of […]

Why the Mental Health of Top Performing Athletes is Even More Vulnerable

Those star athletes are worthy of our society’s adoration. They are never afraid of a little adversity, no, not as they stare down the competition with a gleam in their eye that says, “I know I will win.” Physical exertion doesn’t phase them in the slightest. Compared to everyday folks, they are stronger, faster, and […]

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Basketball Strength Training: Make Your Next Season the Best Season

Any coach who has experienced any type of success will tell you how crucial the offseason is for a team’s improvement and a player’s development. The offseason is a time that makes average players good and good players great. The offseason is a time for teams to develop comradery, discipline, toughness, and cohesiveness.  

Even though we all know how important the offseason is, do we create a plan that maximizes the potential of every player in our program? The first thing that I do to start the offseason is hold open and honest conversations with all of our players on their strengths and weaknesses. This is an open dialogue on what we the coach and what the player feels they need to improve on. 

In this article, I will highlight five areas of emphasis I focus on to maximize the potential of my basketball players in the offseason.  

  1. Protect & Prepare
Photo: Wesley Sykes / Great American Media Services

Our first focus as coaches is to allow our players to heal any nagging injuries they may have from the previous season. We do not want our players to continue to fight through aches and pains in our offseason strength program, we want them to be pain-free so we can work to unlock their athletic potential. One of our main jobs as strength and conditioning professionals is to do everything in our power to ensure that the players are available and ready when the season starts. This begins with making sure they are healthy and allowing their body to fully recover from the previous season.

  1. Focus on Overall Strength

The stronger an athlete is the more durable that player will be. 

One of my favorite quotes comes from legendary Miami Heat strength coach Bill Foran. He said, “Proper strength training improves your speed, power, and agility, while also making your body more durable. When you are strong and powerful, your true ability comes out.” Our basketball players’ strength train year-round, however, it is difficult to make true strength gains during the season. The off-season is a huge window of opportunity to get stronger and unlock your true potential as an athlete.

In my opinion too many basketball players — especially young ones — place too much of an emphasis on trying to improve specific basketball skills in the weight room. They want to solely focus on improving their vertical jump or their first step or on improving their foot speed. If you focus on getting stronger, it will have a direct correlation to all of these basketball-specific attributes.

  1. Limit Jumping & Focus On The Ability To Absorb Force

“Limit jumping” — this sounds counterintuitive.

One of the goals as a strength and conditioning coach is to make our basketball players more explosive and jump higher. But I am supposed to limit jumping in my programming?

The simple answer to this is today’s basketball players play basketball year-round. Players jump around 60 times per game and sometimes even more than that in practices. Jumping and landing are very violent on the body. So if I know my athletes are performing 60 jumps and above every day in practices and games, do I want to have them perform another 20, 30, or 40 jumps in the weight room with me? My answer is no.

As the athlete gets more explosive, increases their vertical jump, and increases their force production we also need to teach them how to land properly. Many times, we, as strength coaches, become overly focused on teaching our athletes how to extend and explode but miss the mark on teaching them how to bend, absorb force, and land properly. This is a big component for keeping our athletes healthy. I have noticed, first hand, that many of my most explosive athletes do not know how to absorb all of the force (or land properly) that they are producing in their jumps. 

  1. Create an ‘Individualized” Program for Each Player

After meeting with, assessing, and discussing the past season’s performance and each athlete’s goal, the coaching staff collaborates to develop an individualized athletic development program to transform each player. These meetings are collaborative and include open and honest dialogue. The coaches, athletic development staff, and players all communicate what they feel the athlete most needs to improve on. The “individualized” programs are many times very similar from player-to-player, as the core values of our program are to:

  1. Protect
  2. Move Well
  3. Move Strong
  4. Move Fast
  5. Thrive

However, adding an “individualized” component goes a long way into helping our players buy into our off-season workout program as they understand that our goal is to collectively maximize each of their individual potentials.

  1. Incorporate Competitiveness

Working with Oak Hill Academy Basketball for the past 10 years, I’m often thought of as a basketball strength and conditioning coach. Oftentimes, one of the first questions I receive is: “Do you enjoy working with basketball players, they generally don’t work that hard in the weight room?”  

» ALSO SEE: The Most Important Class A High School Student Can Take

Micah Kurtz

First of all, I would disagree with that sentiment. Many of the basketball players that I have worked with have been some of the hardest workers. However, I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned about working with basketball players is they are some of the most competitive athletes of any sport. Therefore, I want to feed into their competitiveness through my strength and conditioning programming. 

One of the ways we feed into the players’ competitiveness is by having the players pick their own workout teams. The players and teams can earn points throughout the offseason through hard work, being a great teammate, or winning competitions. At the beginning or end of each workout, we will have some type of competition. The competition could be individual or team-oriented and it could involve speed, strength, agility, or even a mental challenge. By including these competitions it breaks up some of the monotony of off-season workouts, but it also feeds into the competitiveness of our athletes, and our basketball players are some of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around.

Make this off-season your best yet!

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