Basketball

50 Ways to Become a Better Athlete

Here are some tips to help you or your players reach the next level of their development.

  1. Lift more – The best athletes are in the best shape. There’s no sport where extra strength is anything but beneficial. Get into the weight room and on a real strength program.
  2. Lift less – The flip side is there can be too much of a good thing. Overtraining can derail your progress and increase the chance of an injury.
  3. Lift heavier weights – At some point, you’ll need to advance to heavier weights and lower reps. 8-12 reps only works for so long, if you want to increase your maximum strength, you’ll need heavy weights and 5 reps or fewer.
  4. Lift lighter weights faster – The limiting factor for power development is rarely the strength aspect, but rather time. It’s important to train your neuromuscular system to recruit the stronger Type II muscle fibers as fast as possible.
  5. Lift your body weight – Learn to move your body in space. Pull ups, push ups, plyometrics, etc. Many stabilizing muscles are better trained in this type of environment, where the body is the source of both movement and resistance.
  6. Get bigger – If you’re on the smaller side, get in the weight room, eat more calories, and bulk up. You’ll need it at the higher levels of competition where the athletes are universally bigger and stronger.
  7. Get smaller – If your body fat is on the higher end for athletes (generally above 15-18%, but it depends on age, gender, and sport). Get some help with your nutrition and work on getting leaner. Please, be sure to do this safely and not by starving yourself or risky diets/supplements.
  8. Learn from people who have done what you want to do – There’s no better resource than someone who has been where you want to go. Learn from their mistakes and try not to repeat them.
  9. Stretch more – Full range of motion goes a long way in preventing injury and staying healthy.
  10. Stretch less – Don’t become obsessed with your flexibility, unless it is imperative to your sport. It’s important to maintain elasticity in your muscles for the stretch-contract cycle.
  11. Focus on mobility – Like #9, range of motion is an important area to focus on. Muscles can be flexible, but joints must be mobile in order to move freely.
  12. Put more time and effort into your warm-up – The days of jogging on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes and doing a light set or two of your first exercise are over. Learn a proper warm-up and implement it.
  13. Focus more – Put away your phone and pay attention to the task at hand. If you’re distracted during a game, you’ll get beat. Train how you play – focused.
  14. Think less – Malcom Gladwell did an excellent job describing the difference between panicking and choking in his book, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures. We choke when we over-think and question our instincts. Clear your mind and let your body do what you’ve trained it to do.
  15. Listen to your coaches – Yes, there are some that don’t know what their talking about, or don’t have your best interests in mind, but they are a much smaller minority than athletes believe. Your coaches want to help you – let them.
  16. Play other sports – This is especially important for younger athletes (high school and under). The more sports you play, the more your body will develop. Areas not regularly stressed in your sport become addressed with cross-training, and you avoid getting burnt out.
  17. Play your sport more – Of course, the further along you are in your athletic life, the more important it is to get more reps. If you play basketball, get in the gym and put up more shots or jump into pick up games. Continue to develop outside of practice.
  18. Sleep more – Sports, and training, put huge demands on the body and require adequate recovery. This is even more true for student-athletes who go through the strain of school on top of their physical demands. Get to bed early, sleep as many hours as you can before midnight, and let your mind & body recover.
  19. Eat more – As I said above, your body needs proper recovery in order to develop. Starving yourself or not getting enough fuel can quickly lead to overtraining.
  20. Eat less – Remember, eat to fuel, not to feed. Don’t put junk into your body or else you’ll get junk out of it.
  21. Find your motivation – Everyone reaches a point where they have to ask if all this work is worth it. This moment comes at a different time for everybody, but acts as an excellent filter to find the truly dedicated athletes. Find what works for you – quotes, posters, whatever helps you fight through the rough patches to reach success.
  22. Do more sprinting – I have yet to find anything as great at developing athleticism than sprinting. Huge bang for the buck – fat loss, lower body strength, lower body power, increased speed, increased vertical – great all around for athletic development. Very few athletes can’t benefit from getting faster.
  23. Go swimming – Not many training programs schedule in frequent trips to the pool, which makes it a perfect change of pace. No-impact, different stimulus, and different demand on the body.
  24. Fight a grizzly bear – Not literally (hopefully), but try something you think you’ll fail at, but have wanted to try. Worst case scenario, you’re right where you started, but you’ve gained a new experience. Best case scenario, you’ve beaten the grizzly and are ready to take on the next challenge.
  25. Get more reps in your sport (relaxed) – Remember what first started your passion for sports, they’re fun. Spend some time getting back to having fun with it and not worry about mechanics or perfecting every move.
  26. Learn something new – This can be related to your sport or completely separate. It’s important to keep yourself mentally stimulated and not get complacent with what you know.
  27. Build a support structure – Nothing great was ever built on a poor foundation. Friends, family, coaches, and mentors can provide invaluable resources for your development. If you let them know your goals, you’ll be amazed at the support, motivation, and help you’ll receive.
  28. Try to help others improve – I’ve found that one of the best ways to improve is by trying to help others. It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself while viewing someone else.
  29. Watch the best – Take the time to see the best at your sport. Instead of just watching a game on TV, try to study the players. Learn from them and see what you can carry over to your game.
  30. Do more single leg lifts – Most movements in sports are unilateral. Train single leg movements to improve hip and core stability.
  31. Get off the ground – If your sport involves power (hint – they all do), then make sure you’re getting in some good plyometrics. Moderate your total jumps, but be sure to include hops, bounds, and jumps off one and two feet.
  32. Learn to do the Olympic lifts – Compared to the big three lifts (deadlift, squat, bench press), Olympic lifts are the best for power production. The list of benefits are endless and include improved flexibility/mobility, increased power output, and great posterior chain training.
  33. Play above your level – Very important for high school athletes. Sometimes, it’s good to realize you’re place in things. Older, bigger, better players will negate all your strengths and force you into finding other ways to play.
  34. Drink more water – At least a gallon a day. Grab a jug and finish it by dinner.
  35. Take fewer supplements – You don’t need everything GNC sells. Remember, they are supplements and should be supplementing your diet. Eat right and you won’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a month on powders and pills.
  36. Take more supplements – There are a select few I recommend. Get a good  protein supplement (I like Muscle Milk), fish or flaxseed oil, magnesium for before bed, and a good multivitamin. Some extras that are nice, but just luxuries to have, are pure L-Glutamine and some BCAA powder, but there should be enough of both in your protein.
  37. Ask questions – This goes along with several of the above points, try to learn as much as you can. Asking questions of other players, coaches, even players from other sports can provide you new information and insights to improve your game.
  38. Train like you play – Does your sport involve several quick, explosive movements followed by brief rest periods (pretty much all do)? Then why train by running on a treadmill for an hour? Strength, speed, quickness, and power are the key ingredients to an elite athlete, not distance running (unless you’re a distance runner/triathlete).
  39. Get healthy – Go to your athletic trainer or doctor and find a way to get rid of any nagging injuries you have. An injured athlete is an ineffective athlete.
  40. Take some time off – Right after season, step away from the court, field, etc. Give yourself a few weeks to recharge mentally and physically.
  41. Turn off the TV – Years ago, before all of the video games, people were forced to find other means to entertain themselves. Before Madden, people actually played football outside. Crazy idea, but give it a shot.
  42. Do something calming everyday – There’s a lot of stress in this world, be sure to find a calming activity that relaxes you. There’s plenty of time to be stressed, find ten minutes to be calm.
  43. Listen to your body – Not every day will be a great training day. Go off what your body is telling you and take a rest when you need it and push when you can (and you can more than you realize, so keep pushing).
  44. Find a mentor – A good mentor can teach you more than any book, class, or video ever can.
  45. Don’t be afraid to fail – This goes with learning something new. You won’t perfect a skill overnight, but you can get a little better at it each day.
  46. Buy a foam roller – I’ve expressed my love for foam rolling before, but it deserves repeating. Roll out every day and work out any kinks you have. You’re body will feel better after.
  47. Avoid alcohol – Alcohol doesn’t do anything to benefit your body and instead wreaks havoc on your training gains. Decide what’s more important to you, drinking or succeeding in your sport.
  48. Surround yourself with positives – As with stress, there is plenty of negativity in this world, try to surround yourself with as little of it as you can. Positive energy feeds positive results.
  49. Know your limits – You can only do so much. We all have our limits
  50. Try to exceed them – But fear of them can keep you from making gains. Have a gut-check workout. Bust your butt and try to better yourself every day.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments by email, or on Twitter. As always, if I can ever help you or your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

Posted by Drew Henley, 2 comments

Articles & Videos You Should See 5-4-12

I know it’s been a while since I put one of these up, so I figured it’s time. The following are some excellent articles and videos from around the internet regarding training, nutrition, & sports performance.

Articles

Deadlift or Squat: What’s the Diff? – This is an interesting article by coach Michael Boyle on how the line between squats and deadlifts has blurred. Also a little bit of a shameless plug as I was with Michael when he was working on this article and demonstrated the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (cough*third video*cough).


50 Tips for Fat Loss – Charles Poliquin is one of the greats in the industry and does an excellent job compiling information & research into concise articles. There’s a quote I am fond of that I feel describes this quite well – “A great surgeon invents an operation only he can do. A truly great surgeon invents an operation that everyone can do.” The idea of taking the complex and making it simple is a difficult art, however Charles excels at it.


A Complaint Free World – I am interested to see where Dr. E is at right now with his goal to goal 21 days without complaining. If it works, I’m going to buy one for myself and every athlete I work with. 21 days without hearing a complaint? I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.


101 Tips for Being a Great General Manager – Coach Boyle makes a second appearance on the list (mainly because I couldn’t find the original source). Many of the tips have carryover from managing a business to simply managing relationships. Whether they are professional, personal, or other, relationships fail if you take them for granted.


The Story of Me and Food – Speaking of relationships, this piece comes from a friend of mine, Katie Sullivan. She is an amazing young woman I had the pleasure of getting to know during college and is currently an NPC Bikini Athlete…and oh yeah, going to freaking LAW SCHOOL. Holy crap, if you want to learn from a smart person who knows the importance of time management, look no further. This piece is more for women and coaches who work with female athletes, as image issues are a very real and troubling problem that some studies say affect up to 8 million Americans annually (90% of which are women).


PJF Performance Random Facts – Another close friend of mine, P.J. Fabritz, is a young, intelligent and passionate strength coach who wrote this interesting piece (albeit lighthearted). If you don’t know him yet, don’t be surprised to see his name coming up more often.

Videos

Bridge Rollouts – I was going to just post the YouTube link, but Ben Bruno does an excellent job describing the exercise and what’s going on. Ben’s limitless creativity never ceases to amaze me and I look forward to trying these out.


Hakeem Olajuwon Scoring Skills – This was in Bill Simmons most recent article and after viewing it, I was reminded why I love basketball. The Dream Shake with the up & under made Hakeem one of the three greatest centers of all time in my mind. Not to mention, the guy is 7 feet tall and moves that smoothly! My start in coaching was with the Coconino High School Boys Basketball Team in Flagstaff, AZ and there are a few athletes I worked with who will be entering their senior seasons there. Josh, Jake, Jason, and Bam-Bam (aka Andy), I’m telling you to watch this video and learn the up & under from the best. Good luck next year guys.


As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.


All the best,


Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

Posted by Drew Henley, 2 comments

Articles & Videos You Should See 11-21

Articles
Expanding On The Joint-By-Joint Approach – I first learned about the joint-by-joint approach after reading one of Mike Boyle’s articles a long time ago, but I enjoy Grey Cook’s detailed description even better. This is a great resource for all coaches and trainers to have when assessing an athlete’s deficits, imbalances, injuries, etc. I have read through his book Athletic Body in Balance and after this excerpt, will likely be looking into Movement in the near future.
Communication Rating System – This is a must read for all basketball coaches. I don’t think there’s a sport where effective communication is as powerful a tool as on the hardwood (which I’ve learned as both a player and coach). I am currently working with Mesa Community College’s Men’s Basketball team and they are known across the country for their defense, which derives its strength from their communication. I have been a part of thousands of basketball practices, games, and clinics and can say there is no team that compares to MCC at being vocal. It’s a pleasure to be around and keeps everyone engaged and fired up, NOTHING goes unnoticed. In this article, Alan Stein outlines a great scale for basketball teams’ communication skills. A quiet team is a team ready to fail, get them talking and get them going.
What I Do When I Feel Stale – Everybody has those days (or weeks) they just don’t have it. Maybe it’s boredom, stress, or just being tired, but we’ve all had times where we just felt out of it and unable to produce at our normal levels. Tony Gentilcore provides a few good ways of breaking out of a funk and getting the juices flowing again.
Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do? – Throwback to the days of Arnold as the Terminator, Arnold Strong, and Pumping Iron. Who among us HASN’T wished they were the Governator at some point in time? John Romaniello put together an entertaining, although sometimes profane – just a fair warning –  article on the man, the myth, the legend that is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Restoring Movement With Natural Physics – This was a guest post on The Manual Therapist by Dr. Ben Fung about the use of kettlebells in training. If you don’t use kettlebells in your training (or would like to see more ways to utilize them), Dr. Fung shows a multitude of ways and reasons to incorporate them into your programs.
Videos
Unsupported DB Rows – Ben Bruno shows another innovative spin on a classic exercise. The added benefit of core activation to resist rotation is great, even at the expense of the heavy weight that can be lifted when supported. Another tool for your toolbox.
Hip Openers – If you’re like me, hip flexibility and mobility is your mortal enemy. I hate how tight my hips are and bust my ass (get it? Ass? Hips? Pun? Don’t worry, it’s just for the scholars out there) to loosen them up every day, yet they go back to the immovable piece of junk they were the day before. This video from Fitness Source shows several good exercises to help improve flexibility in this stubborn region. And it’s a great way to get athletes to do yoga without realizing it.
Let me know any thoughts you may have on the above resources, I hope you find them as useful as I have. If I can ever help you or your program in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
480-241-4112
HenleySportsPerformance.blogspot.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Articles & Videos You Should See 11-7

Here are this week’s articles and videos I think contain valuable information for coaches & their athletes. I hope you find the same value in them as I do.
Articles
7 Habits for Highly Effective Training – Simple concepts and habits that every athlete should keep in mind when training. If you’re a coach, I recommend going over these with your players. It might be common sense to you or me, but it may be novel to them.
How to Squat Deeper – If mobility is an issue for you or your athletes, Joe Meglio provides several methods of helping improve joint function in this article.
Simple Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises – More mobility exercises, only Mike Reinold focuses solely on the thoracic spine and is able to go into greater detail.
Leave Your Mark –  “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Even for the most determined of us have trouble finding motivation occasionally, Chad Howse does a good job of reiterating what it takes to “Be Legendary.” These are more good points to discuss with your athletes to keep them in the present, but looking to the future.
Videos
Single Leg Barbell RDL/Row Combo – Big fan of this exercise, though I would instruct athletes to maintain a proper lower back arch, even if they can’t get all the way down (in the video, he rounds his back slightly to touch the weight to the ground).
Workout Finishers For Basketball Players and Teams – Alan Stein provides another great video for basketball coaches to use with their players. If you work with basketball players, be sure to subscribe to his channel on YouTube or follow him on Twitter because he is an EXCELLENT resource to have. He produces tons of great videos and articles.
Pike Rollback – At about the 2:30 mark, Nick Tumminello actually gets around to demonstrating this exercise. If you’ve ever seen any of Nick’s videos, you know he likes to talk as much as anyone I know, but fortunately it’s usually stuff I want to learn, so it works out quite well. This is no exception and I am excited to work this exercise into my programs.
Later this week, I will be putting up a big post on what you should have, as well as what you should avoid, for a successful training system. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please feel free to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
480-241-4112
HenleySportsPerformance.blogspot.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
Posted by Drew Henley, 0 comments

Designing an In-Season Training Program for Basketball – Part II

In Part I, I provided an assessment each athlete should complete prior to beginning an in-season strength program. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here. Today, I want to discuss several considerations that will need to be taken into account when designing and implementing a strength program for basketball players. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on designing programs for players at the high school and college levels (NBA doesn’t need to worry about in-season right now, unfortunately).
Training Considerations
After completing the assessment, there should be a deficit or two that will need to be addressed in the training program. Mobility, flexibility, and balance deficits are most easily improved during the season, where as strength and power gains will be minimal (compared to off-season training, which I will cover in another post). The reason being mobility, flexibility, and balance work all place much smaller demands on the body, and can therefore be trained more frequently during the season. Because the goal of training is for production on the court (and not in the weight room), a program designed for massive strength gains will undoubtedly affect players on court performance and predispose players to overtraining. This brings me to my first training consideration:
Team Schedule – For high school players, the schedule is usually pretty standard with two games per week, with one or three on a rare occasion here and there, and a few weekend tournaments. This allows for a relatively consistent training schedule for coaches and players to get two workouts a week with ample recovery time. For college players, the schedule is slightly more hectic (more tournaments, farther travel, etc.) but still manageable as most games are scheduled late in the week, allowing Monday/Wednesday training splits. Below is a sample schedule (the game schedule taken from a high school program):
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Off
No Lift
Game
Lift
No Lift
Game
Lift
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Off
Game
Lift
Game
No Lift
Tournament
Tournament
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Off
No Lift
Game
Lift
Game
Lift
No Lift
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Off
Game
Optional Lift
Game
Game
Lift
No Lift
As you can see, basketball schedules aren’t as simple to navigate as football, but still generally allow a day between games, and two/week separated by at least a day is usually the quota. I usually prefer training players the day after a game, because it USUALLY means they will have a day of recovery before their next game, and any delayed onset muscle soreness will have dissipated. Because of the grind of tournament play, where it’s common to play 4-5 games minimum, it is very important to allow the players to recover physically and mentally.
Other Time Demands – As I said above, this article is focused on high school and collegiate players, and with that comes their academics. Most college programs require a minimum number of study hall hours per week. In high school, parents don’t want their kids wrapped up with basketball for four hours every day and watch their grades suffer. In addition to academics, many players may also have a part-time job, family responsibilities (e.g. babysitting their younger brother), etc. With that in mind, two training sessions a week is likely going to be the biggest commitment an athlete can make.
Age/Gender/Height – All three of these physical characteristics will impact the type, volume, and intensity of training, as well as require modifications to lifts (such as a 6’8” player performing deadlifts from blocks instead of the floor). Younger kids will need lower intensity lifts until they develop proper form and technique. Females will need additional knee stability work in order to protect against ACL tear due to natural position of the femur. Tall athletes, as mentioned above, will need to perform lifts through a different range of motion than their shorter counterparts, as they are at an extreme mechanical disadvantage due to longer lever arms.
Individual Deficits – This is where the results of the assessment come in. While the majority of a training program can be applied to all players, it is important part of each session is dedicated to improving deficits and correcting imbalances. If the deficit is mobility or balance related, the final 5-8 minutes of a training session should be dedicated to improve these areas. If a player suffers from a strength imbalance, this should take place earlier in the workout, primarily with modified lifts.
Training Outline
Below is an example workout program for a high school player who was revealed to have a lack of hip mobility and dynamic balance:
Workout 1
Workout 2
Workout 3
Lower
Superset
Dumbbell Lunges
Bulgarian Split Squats
Hex Bar Deadlift
3×8-10 (each side)
3×6-8 (each side)
3×6-8
Hip Ext on Stability Ball
Kettlebell Swings
Single Leg Glute Bridge
3×10
3×10
3×10
Upper
Superset
Dumbbell Incline
Single Arm DB Bench
Push Ups w/ Band
3×6-8
3×8-10 (each side)
3×8-10
Dumbell Rows
Chin Ups
Cable High Row
3×6-8 (each side)
3×6-8
3×6-8 (each side)
Core
Med Ball Wall Slams
Ab Wheel Rollouts
Pallof Press
2×5
2×10
2×8 (each side)
Balance
SL RDL/OH Press
SL Twists w/ Med Ball
SL Reachbacks
2×8-10 (each side)
2×8-10 (each side)
2×8-10 (each side)
Mobility
PVC OH Squat Against Wall
Lunge & Reach
Lunge & Twist
2×10
2×8 (each side)
2×8 (each side)
Yes, I realize I have said multiple times that two training sessions per week is the best course of action, and then provided a three-workout split. There’s a good reason, I promise – by creating three workouts (instead of two or four) is you get the most bang for your buck. By having two sessions per week, and three different workouts to chose from, you create an easy three week rotation. Instead of needing to create two workouts per week, you’re essentially making one workout per week, allowing constant change in the program (in an effort to avoid plateaus) with minimal time dedicated to program design. Plus it’s easy for the athlete to follow: Week 1 –  complete Workouts 1 & 2, Week 2 – complete Workouts 3 & 1, Week 3 – complete Workouts 2 & 3.
As far as the individual exercises, these are some of my preferences, but certainly not set in stone. Two days with single leg compound lifts to one bilateral compound leg lift because most of basketball is one leg at a time, but it is important to train both sides together as well to ensure solid neuromuscular pathways. Nearly all lifts require movement at multiple joints; this is to minimize the time necessary to train the entire body. Time is always the enemy, as I am usually limited to 30 minutes per session with my basketball players (for all the reasons listed above). As you can see, because the player had two glaring deficits (both bilateral, so he was equally deficient on both sides), the corrective portion of the workout was split to address them both. When it comes to correcting deficits, it is best to address imbalances first and bilateral deficits second, due to the heightened predisposition to injury that accompanies an imbalance.
I don’t like to include much plyometric work with my players in-season, namely because they complete enough jumps and hops during practice that additional contacts would be more detrimental than beneficial. However, if an athlete has a glaring lack of power development, plyos can be put first in the workout to ensure maximum benefit.
This is by no means a complete training program, but I hope it has given you some insight in developing one that is right for your team, players, or self. If you have any questions, or would like assistance in developing a program for your players, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
480-241-4112
HenleySportsPerformance.blogspot.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
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