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Winning Ways (FYI):
Play Time is Over

Thursday, April 15, 2004

By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Physical Fitness Advisor

Basketball season for the most part is now over, and now it's time for athletes who are serious about getting better to start paying their dues. Very rarely do you see an athlete get better during the season, improvement often comes in the off season when you have time to work on aspects of your game that sometimes get overlooked during the season. I always find it funny that coaches will copy a training protocol off of the Internet, tape it to a wall in the weight training facility, and expect their athletes to get better from it. I have lost jobs because I often ask coaches who do this, "Why don't they put their offense on the wall in the same manner, that way they wouldn't have to practice." I know that thinking is out of line but I'm working to prove a point. Their players learn what aspects of the game are important to coaches by the amount of time they spend on it.

I have had the good fortune to work with men and women basketball athletes for quite some time and have had some success, and there are some coaches who are finally starting to see the light. By seeing the light, coaches are no longer just telling their athletes to lift weights in the off season to get stronger, they are going out and creating relationships with coaches who make it their sole purpose to help athletes get fitter and stronger. High school coaches may not have a lot of influence in what happens pertaining to a player’s development during the off season, some athletes are playing in summer leagues, or for AAU teams or some form. It is the philosophy of the best conditioning coaches in the country, that sometimes in order to get better you have to put the ball down. My parents would give me fits about studying while watching TV. I thought they were doing it just to annoy me (I still think sometimes I’m right about them just wanting to annoy me) but now I see the light. If you divide your attention between two different tasks, neither will turn out as well as they could (learned that in Psych class as well). So when I see guys who are dribbling balls around and through chairs I often wonder what is the value of that drill. If you are being defended by some one with the mobility of a chair, does it really matter what type of move you use? The person will not be able to stop you any way.

To that, my suggestion is to devote your self to a 6 week training protocol, a protocol that will enhance your core strength there by adding inches to your vertical. It will also enhance your ability to move your feet, which will help keep you on the court longer because you will not commit those silly reaching fouls. The protocol that I am suggestion today is Functional training protocol. There are coaches and personal trainers out there who are preaching “Sport Specific” training. So, does this mean that the sprint technique is going to change from sport to sport? No it doesn’t because the same muscles used to sprint in basketball are the same used in football. Track coaches use of basketball players is another thing I find curious, but don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are track coaches. But the one thing that gets me in trouble with a lot of them is the fact that on a track, you very rarely see an athlete have to make a lateral move, or you hardly ever see a track athlete with their feet in the same plane. So when a football player who has been training with a track coach has to make a lateral move to avoid a defender, if they don’t have the instinct to do this we could be staring disaster in the face. Doing the job right requires the right tools, sometimes an athlete will need a “plumber” and go out and get an “electrician”.

Remember, improvement is not about hard work it is about working smart. Doing what you do well over and over will not get you to where you want to be. Turn your weaknesses into strengths and you will find that your ability to impose your will on other athletes will only get easier.

Do you have a fitness or conditioning question for Graig? Send it to If your question is used in an article, you will receive a free Team Conditioning Systems t-shirt.
For previous Winning Ways, visit Graig's Archives

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