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Recruiting Tip of the Month…Be Prepared

Being recruited by a college for basketball can be chaotic for someone who has not been through the process before.   For the sure shot college player, letters, emails, text and phone messages from many different schools come in by the dozens on a daily basis pulling your mind in every direction.  For others who are in the middle of the pack and are looking to get noticed the process can be the opposite.  You, your parents, and your coaches will be making the calls to the schools and trying to explain why you should play on their team.  The college basketball market is stacked with perspective players and every little bit that you can do to stand out helps.  From this day forward, Elite Basketball Training and www.richstoner.com will be giving you a recruiting tip of the month.  And, starting today, I am proud to announce our newest recruiting tool, Recruiting Cards

Click here for more information =>RECRUITING CARDS

Recruiting Cards are designed to help you separate yourself from the hordes of high school players trying to get recruited by colleges, but what else can you do to make yourself stand out?  First off, prepare yourself to play college basketball.  Many boys and girls have aspirations of playing at the college level but not all of them put in the time and effort to get there.  Being able to play college basketball is the first step you as a player need to take in order to be able to do so.  Get in the gym everyday and work on your skills.  Hit the weightroom to gain size, speed, and strength.  If you are usure how, have a look around the site for drills and information on what you need to do to become an Elite basketball player.  “The will to succeed is nothing without the will to prepare,” and if you want to succeed at playing college basketball, you must be willing to prepare yourself to do so.

The Real Functional Training

Functional training is one of the sexy phrases in the business these days when it comes to training basketball players or any athlete from any sport.  Functional training should be done in a way that it improves strength as it relates to the activities that the person is trying to perform.  Misinformed trainers often try to achieve this through various arrays of circus tricks such as standing on a bosu ball while doing biceps curls.  I assure you that, that example serves no function in any sport that I have ever played.  Furthermore, traditional exercises that are performed on machines or benches fall on the lower end of functionality as well because they are done in a controlled way that isolates the muscles.  That does not mean that you should not do these traditional exercises, they serve great purpose in building up deficiencies in certain muscles, but that is another topic for another article. So, if these types of traditional exercises serve limited purpose in the realm of functionality, which ones do?  The answer is quite simple odd-object or strongman training is a great way to gain strength in a way that is applicable to sports, thus making them great functional exercises.

We have all been there, late at night flipping through the channels trying to find anything to watch when we come across the world’s strongest man competition on Espn 2.  We sit on the couch enamored to see some guy named Magnus flipping a tractor tire or pulling a bus attached to a rope only to think that this type of “stuff” has little real world application.  This could not be less accurate.  Strongman training is becoming an increasingly popular method of training athletes and for good reason.  Adding strongman exercises like the tire flip, the farmer’s walk, sandbag loading, or the sled drag to an athlete’s workout will increase strength in the posterior chain, explosiveness, and core strength.   The posterior chain includes your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.  The posterior chain is often overlooked when it comes to training, but it should be an integral part of any basketball player’s training regimen.  Why?   Simply stated, these muscles make you faster, and speed is something all basketball players could use more of.  Along with being faster, every basketball player wants to be more explosive and strongman training is an excellent way to achieve explosive power.  The increase in explosiveness comes from the triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips that is required to perform many of these lifts (for more information on triple extension see my article on “Olympic Weightlifting for Basketball”). Most importantly, an increase in core strength takes place due to the nature of lifting odd objects.    Core training involves many different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis and run the entire length of the torso, and provides a solid foundation for movement in the extremities.  It is for this reason that core training is vital to being a successful athlete.  The body is capable of a diverse range of activities that include walking, jogging, sprinting, jumping, starting, stopping, etc. and each one of these movements begins in the core of the body and radiates outward.  The instability of an object like a Sandbag allows the weight to move and an athlete must adjust to this constant motion, consequently activating the core muscles.

So, now that you know why strongman training works, how does a coach or athlete implement this type of training into their workouts?  Strongman training can be integrated directly into the workout by using each exercise along with traditional training methods.  For example, sandbags can be used to do cleans or presses instead of using a bar.  You can also use the tire flip or the sled drag as a maximum effort leg exercise on your leg days.  Strongman training can also be used at the end of workouts as finishing circuits.  For basketball players, having them do several sprints the length of the basketball court while carrying a sand bag different ways (overhead, bear hug, on your shoulders) is an extremely effective way of getting them in great condition.  Finally, you can also implement a strongman day once a week where you put the players through an assortment of strongman exercises.  This type of addition to a weekly workout is not only valuable from a strength and conditioning aspect but it can also be really fun.  Divide the team up into smaller groups and organize your own strongman competition that includes the tug-of-war, sled drag races, tire flipping for time or whatever else you can think of.  The element of competition is sure to get the players excited about training that day and will carry over into other parts of their training. 

Basketball players should always be looking for new, innovative, and effective ways to train our bodies.  Their training should be functional or focus on improving strength as it relates to their sport.  Strongman training is an increasingly popular form of functional training.  This is a direct result of these exercise’s ability to increase speed and explosive power through strength gains in the posterior chain and the core.  Aside from all of that, it is a change of pace from traditional training methods that can lose their luster after a while, and it is fun.  So next time you are flipping through the channels and see Magnus carrying a 300lb stone, do not change the channel, figure out a way to incorporate it into your training and your success will speak for itself. 

Coming this summer is the first ever Elite Basketball Boot Camp.  This is going to be a no nonsense boot camp style training session that will take place twice a week for eight weeks.  The training will include all of the great functional strongman exercises mentioned in the above article.  The Elite Basketball Boot Camp will be a fun and competitive atmosphere that due to the nature of its intensity is only recommended for the serious basketball players.  If you are interested download a copy of the flyer and watch the promotional video in the sidebar of the home page under Elite Basketball Boot Camp.  Act now, spots are limited and people are signing up fast.

The Real Suicides

How many times have you either as a coach made your players run suicides or as a player had to run suicides? Probably too many times to count. Suicides are an effective way of getting in getting in shape and in this video I have taken suicides to the next level. Take a look a see how intense this set of suicides is.

Finishing: 2 New Videos

Here are two new videos for you on finishing drills, one on the court and one in the gym.  Finishing is such an important part of life because it gives you the confirmation that you accomplished what you set out to do.  It is also an extremely important part of the game of basketball where finishing around the rim determines whether or not you score and finishing the game can ultimately play a role in whether you win or lose.  

Finishing around the rim is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced because at higher levels of play, finishing gets more and more difficult.  The two basketball drills performed in the first video will help you improve your finishing skills around the rim.  These are just examples and can be expanded on by adding different finishing variations or moves.  It is important to try to finish in as many different ways that you can think of (high, finger roll, floaters, etc.) because the perfect situation very rarely exists in a game and you must be prepared to make different types of shots if you have to.

The second video is another great example of a finishing circuit that you can use at the end of your workout.  Finishing circuits are a great way to add some conditioning to your workout while combining strength and power.  By adding these types of circuits to your workouts on a frequent basis, you will see your level of physical preparedness skyrocket.  This will allow you to outlast your opponents and finish the game strong.

Olympic Weightlifting for Basketball

As a USAW certified Sports Performance Coach, my background is in Olympic weightlifting as it pertains to sports.  For most people, Olympic weightlifting is seen every four years while watching muscle-bound Olympic athletes wearing something that resembles a wrestling singlet moving huge amounts of weight over their head while grunting and screaming to the applause from the crowd.  As a basketball coach or player, you might not think that this applies to you, but hear me out.  While studying to get my certification in the Olympic lifts, my instructor showed me a picture of an Olympic lifter jumping over a bar that was 50 inches or more off the ground.  That is a pretty impressive feat for any athlete, let alone a guy that was less than 6 feet tall and built like a brick house.  Coaching basketball for over nine years and playing the sport for even longer, I can attest to the fact that the one thing any and all basketball players really want to do is jump high enough to dunk a basketball.  Think about it, how many basketball players spend their free time during practice trying to jump up and grab the rim?  Pretty much all of them, but how many can really jump high enough to consistently throw the ball down?  Not too many.  Obviously, basketball is more than just dunking the ball, but being able to jump high and run fast will give any basketball player an extreme advantage.  Olympic style weightlifting can not only get them the explosive power that is necessary for basketball, but it will also provide them with the strength and conditioning that is unrivaled by traditional bodybuilding methods. 

There are many advantages to having your athletes perform the Olympic lifts like the snatch and the clean and jerk.  Traditional body building lifts like the bicep curl are great for the beach muscles, but they do not have the added benefits that Olympic weightlifting does.  It is important for an athlete to try to use as many muscles as possible when they train.  Bicep curls are specific to one body part.  The Olympic lifts call for an athlete to recruit numerous amounts of muscle fibers in their entire body to move the weight from the floor to an overhead position.  The nature of this movement is highly intense and a must for any athlete.  Furthermore to accomplish this, it is imperative that the athlete lift the weight as quickly as possible throughout the entire movement. 

The speed at which the Olympic lifts are performed has its own benefits.  First, it increases the player’s metabolic drive which will aid in building a leaner, more efficient athlete, a necessity for a basketball player.  The type of speed that the Olympic lifts demand will also make the athlete more explosive while reproducing the jumping motion that all basketball players need on the court.  Olympic lifts, when done correctly, require an athlete to attain triple extension, the ankle, knee, and hip all extending at the same time.  Triple extension also takes place while jumping.  If an athlete is trying to jump high, then he must be at his top speed as his ankles, knees, and hips simultaneously extend.  Olympic lifts directly mirror this action because of the speed that is necessary to pull a weighted bar through the triple extension portion of the lift.   

Other than the explosive nature of the Olympic lifts, there are many other advantages.  The proper technique that is needed to perform these lifts forces the athlete to use his muscles in the correct sequence, from his core to his extremities.  Everyone is talking these days about how important it is to train the core.  For the most part, this translates into, “Do more crunches or balance yourself on a big rubber ball”.  Forget the crunches, and use the rubber ball to play kick ball because the Olympic lifts help to stabilize your core muscles better than any crunch or balancing act can ever do.  Another benefit to the Olympic lifts for athletes is the fact that they decrease the risk of injury by increasing the body’s agility and ability to accept the force of the external object, in this case, the weighted bar.  As a result, the Olympic lifts increase flexibility in the hips, ankles, and wrists and promote shoulder stability.    Finally, whereas traditional weight lifting programs focus of specific body parts, your whole body gets a workout when performing these lifts.  This increases an athlete’s conditioning and decreases their time in the gym.  Training economically is vitally important to today’s athlete who usually plays more than one sport and has very little time to strength train.  The Olympic lifts provide the best results in the least amount of time.  Not to mention the increased strength and size that the athlete will develop while moving the weights through the full range of motion that the clean and jerks and snatches demand. 

It should be noted that I am in no way advocating an Olympic lifting program for basketball players or any other athlete.  What I am suggesting is that basketball players and other athletes incorporate the Olympic lifts into their current weight training regimen, preferably as the fundamental exercise on each given training day.  It should also be noted that the Olympic lifts do require a large degree of technique in order to avoid injury and perform them successfully.  However, this should in no way deter any coach or athlete from doing them.  There are plenty of videos, clinics, and coaches out there that can instruct on how to perform the Olympic lifts properly.  So, if you are looking to take your strength training to the next level and you want to have the athletic advantage of jumping higher and running faster, start to incorporate the Olympic lifts into your strength training program.  Not only will you see the benefits mentioned above, but they are actually more fun than looking at yourself in the mirror while doing 100 biceps curls every time you hit the gym.