27. September 2011 02:45
A basketball player’s athleticism is the foundation of their entire game. In order for a player to maximize their potential on the court, they need to create as wide of a foundation as possible (picture the base of a pyramid).
If a player can improve their strength, power, explosiveness, agility, reaction, quickness, flexibility and conditioning level, then they can perform the skills of shooting, passing, ball handling, rebounding, and defending at a much higher level. They can also perform their skills with more efficiency and perform them for longer before fatigue sets in. That is why the best players are in the best shape!
Just as a player’s athleticism is the foundation of their game, the pre-season lays the foundation for the up-coming season. What players do from the start of the school year until the day of the first practice will determine the type of season they have.
Not all players, in fact very few, have the genetic potential to be as athletic as LeBron James or Derrick Rose. However, every basketball player can make improvements to their athleticism. Keep in mind, athleticism is not just jumping high or dunking.
With proper and purposeful training, players can make impressive strides in their hand/eye coordination, footwork, acceleration/deceleration, reaction, strength, mobility, and stamina.
It is these ‘little things’ that make a BIG difference!
Here are 12 thoughts regarding your pre-season training:
· No injuries during training & workouts.
· Train to reduce preventable injuries.
· Train to improve performance on the court.
2) Basketball is not a speed game! It is an agility game, a change of direction game and an acceleration/deceleration game. Your training should reflect this.
3) There is a difference between ‘working out’ and ‘training.’ Training has a purpose and takes you closer to your goal!
4) Just because a workout was hard, doesn’t mean it was productive. It must be purposeful! Shooting 20 full court lay-ups with a weighted vest and a medicine ball is very hard… but won’t get you any better. Train hard, train smart!
5) It takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill. Repetition is not a form of punishment. It can take 5,000-10,000 reps to change a movement pattern.
6) Why should you strength train? Do you want to be the bug or the windshield? Seven days without strength training makes one weak.
7) Proper strength training for basketball is more than just bench pressing and squatting. You must train your feet & ankles, core, and grip in addition to your upper and lower body.
8) Tight, weak ankles and feet limit your ability to run and jump as fast and as high as possible as well as increase the occurrence of injury. Train your feet! It all starts with your feet!
9) Most basketball bodies were not made to back squat safely, particularly under load. Utilize lunges, step-ups, and 1 legged deadlifts as alternatives.
10) Having a huge bench press has zero correlation to basketball success. Ask Kevin Durant. Enough said.
11) If you stand on one leg, it is physically impossible to move your knee without moving your ankle or hip. Everything is connected and everything functions together. That is why having strong & mobile ankles and hips are the key to knee health!
12) Basketball conditioning stats to keep in mind when designing your training program (from the 2010 BSMPG Clinic):
· Average heart rate: 165-170 bpm
· High intensity sprints occur every 20-30 seconds
· 100+ high intensity sprints per game
· 40-50 maximal jumps per game
· Change in movement every 2-3 seconds
· 30% of time is spent defensive sliding
· 15% of time is in high intensity
· Movement patterns: Jogging – running – jumping/landing – back pedaling – planting/cutting – pivoting – defensive sliding
· Categories – Offensive, Defensive, and Transition movements
· Breakdown of categories – Guard specific, Wing specific, Post specific
“Success always looks easy to those who weren’t around when it was being earned.”
If you have any questions or need additional resources on your pre-season training, please feel free to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Train hard. Train smart. Enjoy the journey.
15. November 2010 10:04
I asked a very provocative Daily Question on Twitter and Facebook – and it really stirred up some emotion and created lots of passionate dialogue (which was the goal)!
The question was “which professional sport has the best overall athletes?” While everyone has the right to interpret and define that however they choose, I think some folks strayed from the real meaning of the question. The question was not “which sport is hardest” or “which sport is toughest.”
While those are excellent questions in their own right, they weren’t what I was looking for. There is no arguing how physically demanding boxing, wrestling, MMA, and Australian Rules Football are… but that doesn’t mean they have the best athletes (apples and oranges). That’s not to say they don’t… but to make a legitimate argument for those sports you have to provide more evidence than how grueling the sport is or how intense the training is.
Along those lines, the question was not “which players from one sport would be the best at other sports?” When judging solely on athleticism, skill should not be a factor. Larry Bird was obviously a very skilled basketball player. He may have also been very skilled at other sports. But that doesn’t mean he had great athleticism (which most experts agree, he didn’t). So referencing a competition where athletes play each other in other sports is irrelevant (fascinating for sure, but irrelevant to the question posed). Again, it's apples and oranges.
I define one’s overall athleticism as the total score they would achieve if they performed a standardized battery of tests that measures every component involved in athletic performance:
I realize that is a cursory list, but you get the idea. I intentionally left off intelligence and tactical skills. Those characteristics are paramount to success in any sport, but not what I am looking to measure with this question (per the Larry Bird reference). For the record, that is my personal definition of athleticism.
To answer this question accurately, you must compare the entire sport as a whole, not just the best athlete in that particular sport. If you say “track and field has the best athletes”… you can’t just look at Usain Bolt. You have to look at the shot putters, 1500 meter runners, and pole volters too. After all, they are all a part of the Olympic Track Team! Thus every athlete would have to do every test… and then compile an average of the scores.
The same applies for every sport in the discussion. You can just test running backs, wide receivers, and cornerbacks; you have to test lineman and punters too!
While Usain Bolt is unbelievably fast, flexible, and powerful, we can only speculate how agile he is (can he decelerate and change directions?) or how much endurance he has (what would his mile time be?) or how good his hand/eye coordination is. Would poor scores in those specific tests drop his overall score below someone like Adrian Peterson? Or LeBron James? Or Alexander Ovechkin?
But that is only part of the overall debate. Remember, we aren’t looking for the best individual athlete; we are looking at every sport as a whole. So even if Usain’s score was still one of the top overall scores, would lower scores from other track and field participants drop them below basketball? Or football? Or soccer? That is the real question!
I will be the first to admit I am a tad biased based on what I do for a living, but in my opinion, NBA players would score the highest across the board.
That doesn’t imply that I don’t think players in the NFL or NHL or MLS aren’t great athletes… they are! I just believe, from top to bottom, with every component of athleticism tested, players in the NBA would rank the highest.
If you have a question you would like for me to post as a future Daily Question, please email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. Keep in mind, I am not looking for trivia questions, but rather thought provoking, opinion based questions related to basketball and/or strength & conditioning.
28. October 2010 03:11
In addition to horrible officiating, there is something else that all coaches can’t stand… turnovers. Turning the ball over in basketball is a cardinal sin. After all, winning the turnover battle is usually the key to victory.
But is there such a thing as a good turnover? I wouldn’t go that far… but all turnovers are not equal. There is difference between trying to pivot through a trap to pass to an open teammate and getting called for traveling and making a casual perimeter pass that gets stolen. There is a difference between attacking the rim and being called for an offensive foul and tossing an ill advised behind the back pass out of bounds during a simple 2-on-1 fast break.
What’s the difference? One was an assertive play and the other wasn’t. You have to learn to live with assertive turnovers.
If you want to be a successful basketball player; you need to be assertive. You need to take calculated risks on the court. You will never maximize your potential by always playing it safe. You need to leave your comfort zone; in workouts, in practice, and in games. However, when you assert yourself, you must be fully prepared to reap the rewards or suffer the consequences. That’s accountability.
What do Steve Nash, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony all have in common?
1) They are all NBA All-Stars.
2) They are the NBA’s most talented offensive players.
3) They were all ranked in the top 15 in turnovers committed last season!
Part of their offensive genius is taking risks and being aggressive with the ball. Turnovers happen as a result. You have to take the bad with the good. Even John Stockton, the NBA’s all-time leader in assists, is 2nd all-time in turnovers committed. It goes with the territory! Anyone who watched Stockton play can agree that his turnovers were assertive in nature.
This is not an invitation to be careless or reckless with the ball. I am not condoning turnovers. You must value the ball… every possession is important. But you have to take chances and be assertive to be successful. You have to take risks. “With great risk come great rewards.”
Assertive players are aggressive and decisive. They don’t hesitate. They survey the situation and go with the best option. They have confidence in whatever decision they make. And if they make a mistake (or turnover), they learn from it and don’t repeat it. Fighting to establish post position on the block and getting called for 3 seconds is OK. Getting called for it a second or third time is not!
When an assertive player makes a mistake offensively, they bust their butt to “make it up on defense.” Assertive players don’t wallow in mistakes. If they turn the ball over… they immediately move to the next play. They don’t compound their mistake by standing around and pouting.
And you can be an invaluable offensive player even if you don’t have a sick handle or a killer jump shot. An assertive offensive player sets solid screens, runs the floor on every position, makes hard basket cuts, and crashes the offensive glass every time a shot is taken (assertive players think, “shot is taken, shot is missed.”). Ask any defender… assertive offensive players are the worst to guard!
Assertive players don’t play with fear. They aren’t scared to make a play because they fear turning it over. Assertive players take risks, play hard, and in the end… are successful.
So coaches, before you berate your player for committing a turnover… take a second to judge what kind of turnover it was. If it was an assertive turnover; be supportive and positive.
If it wasn’t; do what you do!
To be a great player, you need to have strong hands. Grip strength plays a key role in being strong (assertive) with the ball. Here is a video of some unconventional, yet highly effective grip strength exercises: http://TinyUrl.com/BasketballGripTraining
Lastly, I highly recommend you read Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann. It is a fascinating emotional roller coaster with unbelievable insight into youth basketball. The book does a tremendous job of highlighting the myriad of problems we face. I have read over 100 books in the past 2+ years and Play Their Hearts Out just moved into my top 3. It is that good. Whether you are a player, coach, or parent, you have to read this book!
As the high school season approaches, please let me know if I can be of service to you or your program. Feel free to email me any time at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Train hard. Train smart.
PS: If you haven’t already done so, make sure you sign up for our monthly email newsletter. We will be sending out a new batch of Coaching Nuggets in early November… you don’t want to miss these!
Click on “Subscribe to Updates” at www.StrongerTeam.com
14. October 2010 03:42
With the start of the high school season approaching fast, it is time for you to ask yourself a significant question…
What separates you?
What is it about your game that separates you from every other player?
Are you as massive as Dwight Howard?
Are you as explosive as LeBron James?
Are you as skilled as Kevin Durant?
I assume, if you are being honest with yourself, you answered “no” to these questions. Therefore, you need to find other ways to separate yourself.
Do you need to separate yourself from the players trying out so you can earn a spot on the team?
Do you need to separate yourself from the players that make the team so you can earn playing time?
Do you need to separate yourself from the top players in your state so you can earn a college scholarship?
Do you need to separate yourself from the best players in the country so you can earn All-American status?
Think of the game Musical Chairs. The entire premise is that there are more chairs than there are people… hence the immediate anxiety attack you feel when the music stops and you scramble to grab a chair!
Basketball, and life for that matter, is similar. You need to find what separates you from the pack… so you can “get a chair.” There are 4 ways to separate yourself to make sure you “get a chair” this season:
You have no control over the natural gifts you were born with… but you can always get better. Not everyone can be as athletic as Derrick Rose. However, with hard work and a progressive program, you can get stronger, quicker, and be in great basketball shape.
Similar to athleticism, not everyone possesses the coordination and innate abilities required to handle the ball like Chris Paul or shoot like Stephen Curry. However, with countless hours of deliberate practice, you can improve your fundamental basketball skills.
I am referring to your basketball I.Q. (not your potential to split the atom or win $25,000 on Jeopardy). Do you know how to play? Do you understand concepts like time and score, know what a good shot is, and know your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses? You can improve your basketball I.Q. by studying film and learning from folks who truly know the game (like your coach!).
While there are natural limits to how athletic you can be, how skilled you become, and how well you understand the game… there are no limits to the intangibles. Everyone has the ability to do these things, but very few have the heart, fortitude, and perseverance to do them on a daily basis.
These intangibles are the best way to separate from the pack and help your team be more successful:
· Enthusiasm (raise the level of those around you, be positive, accept coaching)
· Unselfishness (put your teammates first, make the extra pass, set screens)
· Effort (give 100% every practice, defend, box out, take charges, dive for loose balls)
Here is how powerful these intangibles are:
If you are below average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you still have a strong chance to make the team.
If you are average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance to earn quality playing time.
If you are above average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance of playing in college.
Most importantly, doing these intangibles will give your team a better chance to win and will create habits that will carry over to every aspect of your life.
If you want to separate from the pack… whether to make the team, earn playing time, or be an All-American… then continue to develop your athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and damn well make sure you do the intangibles… every day! There is no excuse not to.
Here are some killer on court strength and power drills to help you prepare for the season: www.TinyUrl.com/GonzagaPreSeasonOnCourt.
If you like my daily quotes at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein, make sure you “like” us at www.Facebook.com/StrongerTeam too (I post additional quotes there)!
Have fun. Earn success.
PS: I am now offering FREE shipping on all of my DVDs! You better get’em now, not sure how long this will last! Available at http://Shop.StrongerTeam.com.
15. July 2010 00:45
My intense summer camp circuit is almost over. I travel to Connecticut next week to train a group of players from Brazil and then will be speaking at state coaching association clinics in South Carolina and Colorado. In August, I will spend some much needed time at home with my wonderful wife and our (4 month old) twin sons, Luke and Jack.
I will also use the month of August to re-energize my battery for the fall. I have learned over the years how important it is to work smarter… not just harder. And part of working smarter is knowing when to rest and recover.
In addition to quality family time, I will focus on getting extra sleep, being consistent with my own workouts, eating well, and submerging in professional development (books, audiobooks, instructional DVDs, old notes, etc.). Even though August is a slow month for business, I never stop working on my craft. I try to get a little better every day. I have a new challenge ahead of me at DeMatha, and I plan to be as prepared as possible for the pre-season.
The past 6 weeks have been an exciting whirlwind. I have worked the Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp, the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp, all of the Nike Skills Academies (Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Amar’e Stoudemire, & LeBron James), and the Nike Peach Jam EYBL Championships.
Having had the opportunity to be around the most talented players in the country, I noticed there is a key factor that separates the good from the great.
That is the ability to compete.
Mediocre players rarely compete. Good players compete when they want to. Great players compete all of the time… every drill, every workout, every day. Their competitive fire never stops burning.
And competing doesn’t always have to be against another player. Great players compete against themselves. Great players compete against the clock. Great players compete against the drill. They are never satisfied with what they have already accomplished and are constantly competing to improve. They aim to raise the bar every single workout. No matter how much success they have had, they are always looking to go to another level.
Kevin Durant doesn’t pick and choose when to compete; he competes all of the time. KD just won the NBA scoring title, was an All-Star, and led the Thunder to the playoffs. Yet, he competed as hard as any high school or college player at his Skills Academy (in both drills and scrimmages). KD played with the hunger and urgency of someone who still needed to prove himself, even though he obviously doesn’t.
I can tell within 5 minutes whether or not a player is a true competitor. I can tell in their preparation. All I have to do is watch what they do the 15 minutes before the workout begins.
Are they waiting for the workout or are they preparing for it? There is a difference.
Players who are waiting to work out are usually lounging around in their flip flops and headphones or just casually shooting. They are literally killing time until the workout begins. That’s when they plan to “turn it on.”
Players who are preparing to work out, are dressed and ready and going through some type of standard routine, such as a structured warm-up or doing some form shooting. They aren’t joking or grab assing around. They are focused on getting mentally prepared. They are all business.
Despite the stress of “The Decision,” and the fact he was technically an unsigned free agent at the time, LeBron James laced them up and played with both the high school and college players at his Skills Academy. Even though these were just nightly pick-up games, LeBron went through his standard pre-game preparation, which included being thoroughly stretched by his trainer and running through some basic shooting drills to get a sweat. The only thing he didn’t do was throw chalk in the air!
LeBron James is a competitor. LeBron James knows how to prepare.
Each night, there were two games going on simultaneously on adjacent courts. The games played on LeBron’s court were always twice as intense and competitive as the other court. Why? One reason was because LeBron’s competitiveness and intensity was contagious. The other reason was because the other players wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of playing against the NBA’s reigning MVP. They were more competitive because something was on the line and they felt they had something to prove.
The key to being a great player is learning to play that hard and intense all of the time. Why not compete like you are playing against LeBron in every game you play? Why not compete in every drill as if a college coach or NBA scout is watching?
If you can figure out how to do that, you will be well on your way. When you learn to treat an off-season workout with the same importance as a championship game, then and only then, have you learned how to truly compete and maximize your potential. I have seen plenty of very talented players fall short because they didn’t make competing a habit.
Don’t think you can just “turn it on” when the season starts. You need to start competing now… every drill, every workout, every day.
Are you waiting for the season to start… or are you preparing for it?
If you need to spice up your summer workouts with some alternative exercises that require minimal equipment, I just posted a video of Basketball Strength & Conditioning Exercises: Upper Body at http://TinyUrl.com/UpperBodyExercises.
Lastly, we have officially wrapped up our 10 week long Can He Dunk? Project. You can watch the first episode at www.CanHeDunk.com. We will post a new episode each week for the next five weeks.
Please let me know if I can ever be a resource to you for your program. You can email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Train hard. Train smart.