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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2018!

Next Theme Workout: Shark Week/Hawaiian Mashup - Saturday at 10 am!

Entries in basketball (67)

From the Vault: More Squats

With option of Hero workouts that came up at the gym (Murph and Michael), we got exposed to a very significant amount of volume (meaning reps, duration, etc.) of exercise - specifically in the legs. This, to me, is a very important part of training that I definitely don't think should be an every day thing, or even every week thing, but something that we should be able to recover from. The benefit of having a lot of strength and stamina in your legs will obviously help in workouts but shows itself most outside the gym - especially in sports. Last year I did a post with some video from our Groves basketball team.

Case Study: We're Doing More Squats!

Drew might be our best player on Groves, and we need him on the court a lot. Let's say we coach him up, and the rest of the team, and break the habit by tonight at 5 pm. Great! The first few possessions are shut down! The thing is, we are on defense anywhere from 40-50 times per game. If Marygrove math serves me right, that's around 16-20 minutes(!) Drew needs to be spending in a squat - or else he is a liability.

In sports when your legs get tired you either find yourself out of position, or come out of the game. Neither scenario is desirable. In fact, watch an elite level track race and you'll see how most, if not all, of the runners don't look out of breath at the finish line - which tells you that it's not cardio endurance and conditioning that is missing.

In real life, the repercussions of having poor stamina in the legs looks like slouching, sitting, and breathing heavy after walking from the couch to the fridge.

For most workouts I scale the reps, weight, range of motion, etc. in order for us to keep intensity. Then on those workouts I do preserve the volume, the reason behind it often has to do with building stamina in the legs. Squats, lunges, pistols, kb swings, running, and jump ropes all can go a long way to move the needle in that direction, and the less active we are during the rest of our day, the more we'll need to do formal exercise to make up for it.

You Make the Call: Better Off Without Them?

One of the things I've always wondered is if you dread seeing someone, why does it make sense to keep them around? The following scenarios have to do with the "toxic" people - as Shakes calls them - and whether or not you can allow their negative vibe ruin everyone else's time.


Scenario 1

You are in the middle of a basketball season and your team has great chemistry and plays well together except for one player: Paul. Paul is physically one of your best players and is very talented, but doesn't take direction well at all and does not work hard. More than anything, he's one of those kids that sucks up a lot of your energy and you end up dreading practice because of him.

As the kids walk in for Sunday's practice you see one by one come out of the locker room, but no Paul. After a few minutes have passed, you get a text from Paul saying he's sick and won't be at practice. The following hour and a half proceeds to be the best 90 minutes of basketball your team has spent all season and the energy felt great.

What do you do next?

Scenario 2

You are a high school history teacher. Your class is full of 23 kids who range from very interested in history to not-really-interested-but-I'll-be-good-cause-dad-will-whoop-me. And then there's two little "shit kids" that make productive teaching nearly impossible. Andrew and Ellis are their names, and they're thick as thieves. Disruptive talking, public disagreements with assignments, and constantly bringing down the overall class GPA. Worst of all, they are professional punks; they know exactly how much to say and do that is disruptive but are clever never to do anything blatantly inappropriate. Most R-rated comments are hidden in inuendo.

As your 4th hour rolls in you notice both seats absent usually occupied by Andrew and Ellis, and you immediately change plans to do an interactive lesson you would be hard pressed to get away with were they present.

Considering it's only the 3rd week of classes for the fall semester, what do you do next?

Coach's Corner: 1-2 Box Jumps

We have done some work before on changing up the box jumps a bit. Our latest version involves a jump that is more closely related to what athletes will come across in their sports; while jumping from a stand still is common, so is jumping off some kind of approach. Because I am not creative, I just called these 1-2 box jumps because in basketball terms it's kind of how you explain the footwork for a jumper or layup. We tried them out a little over a week ago in our running/box jump workout.

I didn't really nitpick on the technique other than trying to still keep vertical shins and loading order on the landing. But it was interesting to see how it took some people a minute to get the timing down. There is definitely more skill in this version than the regular box jumps, and I'll probably observe more workouts and warmups with jumps like this before formally teaching the technique to it. Either way, be ready for more of these!

New Kid on the Block: Coach Casey

Casey Colussi started booking private basketball sessions for his son, Dylan, back in November if I recall correctly. Casey used to coach in high school (he actually was part of a State Championship staff at Avondale) and now volunteers to coach Dylan's travel team. For all the crap I write about private lessons and parents getting lost in the mix of things, Coach Casey "gets it," which is a huge relief for me. Soon after the basketball sessions began, both Dylan and his little sister, Mallory, were working out with our Babies session on weekends.

Dylan still comes in for basketball sessions about every other week or so with his dad taking him to every session, and recently I talked Coach Casey into trying out a group session. He finally agreed to come in last Friday in the morning and was not shy about writing his experience on the whiteboard:

Usually people who find themselves on the verge of throwing up do not come back to join, but Coach Casey is using that as motivation to get his health back on track. I can imagine it's difficult as a parent to keep in shape when all of the priorities immediately shift to the tiny living things running around your house. But Coach is on board now andis two sessions into Fundamentals. So far his jumping looks good and his hollow body position is almost perfect like all the rest of the dads in here. The conditioning is the limiting factor at the moment, along with shoulder mobility and strength, and still he has been nothing but a pleasure to coach so far. As usual we'll keep working on it and catch up with you guys after Day 7.

Quote of the Week vol. 234

"He's not a basketball player"

- me, earlier this week, to a basketball player's dad

I had my first parental... not complaint, but maybe disagreement in a very long time earlier this week when I told this to one of the dads of a kid I coach through private lessons. Coaches I know say this all the time. For instance, I played football for three years in high school, but I wasn't a "football player." Instead of taking it like that, the dad took it meaning his kid should stop playing basketball and go play a new sport. I explained that I meant his kid doesn't really take basketball as serious as a "basketball player" would. I told him his kid is pretty good at basketball, will most likely going to reach his goal (high school varsity) and doesn't need private lessons to do that; in fact, private lessons might burn him out and make him dislike the game, seeing as the things most 6th graders like him need to work on are very broing, indeed. Still not sure if the message went through, but we had a good session the other night.

Have you ever said something that seems normal to you but foreign to someone else? 

Mystery Athlete/Mystery Bag

We have two mystery athlete categories tonight:

1. There are three Champions Club athletes and one All-State baseball player in the following picture. Name them.

2. At the 6:30 session tonight we were interrupted by a fan-favorite who is currently on hiatus. Pat has been off in the world doing things and cussing like a sailor. But you know every time he comes in, he always brings something to share - whether that's the weird knockoff Asian pulled pork breadballs, or bubble tea. Never anything normal. Tonight was no different.

What was in the bag?

Movement Shapes pt. 19: Chris on the Court

Dead ends are the worst possible thing to practice in a general strength and conditioning program. If a clean technique only applies to a 1 rep max, minimum fatigue, Olympic lifting shoes clean, then it is worthless (unless you are a professional cleaner). A coach's progressions and methods to teaching a clean should apply to a 1 rep max clean, and Elizabeth (the benchmark workout or the person), and light weight power snatches, and bringing a sandbag to your shoulder, and throwing, and jumping, and basketball. If it doesn't, then the coach is caught up too much in the specificity.

Basketball - being the greatest thing ever invented - is a great arena to showcase the physical and neurological adaptations we make in the weight room. But regardless of what arena you are in, or what you may think of basketball, one thing that is not up for debate is how our role with nature works; in this case, "nature" refers to our anatomy and gravity. Our job is to obey the principles of nature regardless of what movement we are doing. The more we obey, the better the result. Olympic lifts are a very good way to train this, and we use a method called "unweighting" to do so. As I wrote about in Conor and Mr. Carey's split jerk post, the most efficient way to move is when there is no body weight. So often times we need to be patient enough in our lifts to allow a full unweighting of support (hands, feet, and shoulders) before moving to the next pose. It is pretty easy to spot in the weight room, but a little more difficult to see in other areas.


Last week I was messing around with max height box jumps where I took a rolling start from an angle. I got the idea from watching our Groves kids try (and fail) to dunk after practice, and realized that the best jumps happen from this kind of rotation. Then I wondered how this would look on the basketball court, so my old pal Jacob, Lord of Scotland, volunteered to record a late-night basketball shooting session. Here's a few clips of each:

As with all movements we look at skill and strength when determining whether it is good or not; skill = working with gravity (timing) and strength = resisting gravity (anatomical position).

Box jump skill. First, notice that when I jump, I plant* with my inside foot (left foot in this case). As I round to my right, I plant with the left foot, then allow the right foot to come in front slightly; this produces a rotation that gives me momentum to jump on the box. If I were to plant with the outside foot, or do a jump stop, it would dull a lot of the momentum. More on that later. Also, I use a very exaggerated unweighting of the shoulders to help me pull up. In both slow-motion segments, I remember trying to wait as long as possible before bringing my knees up. It was scary, but it helped. I showed Dr. Romanov these clips for analysis and he recommended making my unweighting quicker (like the quick down-up on hang cleans, or on my jump shot). That makes sense, as it helps with muscle-tendon elasticity, so I will be sure to try that next time.

*"plant" is probably not the best word to use - as it implies a hard stop - but it's common lingo, so I'll use it. More like the "roll" or "pivot" foot, though.

Basketball skill. There are two main parts to getting the timing right on a shot; the most important is the footwork. Left foot-right foot when moving to your right, and right foot-left foot when moving to your left. As mentioned above, this keeps the point of support closer to under your hips than if the footwork was opposite, and therefore gives us more momentum to elevate. The next part is the unweighting, and I finally figured this out as the video was being recorded. In the last shot I take, watch my head relative to the wall and notice the point where it stops moving; this is a moment of being weightless and it's also the point where I do the most pushing. This is the ideal timing for a jump shot and why a lot of coaches say, "shoot it at the top of your jump." But this is the first time I felt the same thing I feel on cleans, and it's because it was the first time I was looking for it.

Box jump position. When your skill is good, you can get away with having less than ideal anatomical positions because all injuries have to do with gravity. Strength is for when we have to work against gravity, or extra bodyweight. But the thing is, having good positions will help maximize our work with gravity. On my jump, notice the loading position: hips back and shins pretty vertical. This is also the same for basketball.

Sounds an awful lot like the squat we teach. Also, my torso is not what many coaches would call "upright." In fact, most squatting in sports does not happen with an upright torso; this is signature to the professional cleaners mentioned at the top of this post. Even though we always work towards having the capacity to squat like a Banet or Mrs. Carey, this is why Kroll and Mama V squatting like this is not always a bad thing. Since a straight-on video would have been blocked by the plates, I only got the side position. Luckily jumping is jumping, so we get to see the same positions and faults on the court.

Basketball position. You could look at a freezeframe like this...

... and be like HOLY CRAP THOSE KNEES! And that was my first reaction. But then after analyzing it, I don't think it's a bad position at all. First off, consider that my plant foot was my left  (the one that took the most force). In the freezeframe, my left foot is straight and my knee is out over the little toe (a good thing). The right foot lands straight forward, completing the redirection, and the knee is projected in the direction I am changing. Two things that could have made this a bad position are 1) my right foot being turned out instead of straight or 2) planting with the right leg first and taking all that weight abruptly instead of rolling through it; in other words, bad strength or bad skill.

The actual bad part, in my opinion, was the left foot. Remember, the left foot is the one that begins the change of direction and takes most of my weight. If you watch the video below, my left knee gets the speed wobbles when loaded. This is a problem that needs to be fixed. It doesn't seem to do it as much on the right (which might be why I prefer to pull-up that way). This lowering down motion on one foot - in weight room lingo - is known as the pistol, and luckily my hips are back and taking a lot of load off the knee.

Analyzing movement in terms of skill and strength is what helps me determine what an athlete needs to work on. That idea came from Carl Paoli back in 2012 when he came to visit, but it is finally becoming clear(ish) in the entire movement spectrum. This is only possible when looking past the "code" of the weight room. When you can see that front squat, back squat, clean, kettlebell swing, and box jump are all the same freaking thing, then you can start to make connections and define best practices. It's Hermione's Law: keep zooming out until you can see the entire picture. The best place to start is with gravity, then work your way down until you reach the thing you care about.


As a bonus, here's the full 8 minute video. Two notes: first, I was broke as a joke before this segment, then I fixed the unweighting part. Second, Jacob was really hungry: Vulgarilly so.