I Cannot Lift Today Because…

If you are a basketball coach, you have most likely encountered the same myriad of excuses as to why basketball players feel that they should not or cannot lift weights.  The conversation usually starts like this:

Coach: Okay guys, we will meet in the weight room today at 3 pm to lift.

This is the point in the conversation where you see the many faces that young athletes give when they do not want to do something. 

Then the excuses begin to flow like a steady stream of water from the tap.

Player: Coach, I cannot lift because:

·         I don’t want to ruin my shot (this is the # 1 reason).

·         I have an orthodontist appointment (by the way, this generation of athletes will have the greatest teeth the planet has ever seen because I get this one a lot)

·         I don’t want to be sore for the game tomorrow.

·         I have an AAU game.

·         I have a summer/fall league game.

·         My (fill in the body part) is bothering me.

·         My other coach told me not to.

·         I’m already strong enough for the game of basketball.

·         Basketball players don’t lift.

·         I don’t like to lift.

·         I will be in the city that day.

·         I will be at the beach that day.

These are just a few of the countless excuses that I have heard throughout my years of coaching as to why a young athlete cannot or will not lift.  The fact of the matter is that lifting is as much a part of the game of basketball as running, jumping, dribbling, passing, and shooting.   In order to be able to compete at the higher levels of basketball, a player must incorporate some sort of lifting program into their weekly regimen.  Lifting weights or any other form of strength and conditioning will enable the player to run faster and jump higher, and what basketball player would not want that.  Furthermore, strength training will give you the size and strength to take on opponents who at one point were physically superior to you.   Being able to successfully compete against once superior opponents will give you and your teammates not only a physical edge, but a mental edge as well.     

There is also something to be said for completing difficult workouts as a team.  My team has become accustomed to training together and it has worked towards uniting them as teammates and friends.  They have endured outdoor workouts during the hot summer months or the cold temperatures of the late fall.  They have also woken up early and completed workouts at 7 am and they have done all of this as a collective whole.  In doing so, they push each other to be better; picking up guys when they are down and forcing each other to work harder for the greater good of the team.  The strength training has made us a stronger unit, thereby allowing us to be more successful against higher levels of competition

However, what if you are not interested in playing the game of basketball at a higher level?  Should you still work out with the team?  Absolutely!  Not only will working out with your team grant you  memories that will last a lifetime, but a proper strength and conditioning routine will provide you with multiple health benefits for years to come.  In all honesty, is there any better value than this? Succeeding in life (the ultimate game) is more important than anything else we really do.  Being healthy will not guarantee success but it is certainly a step in the right direction. 

So next time one of your players tells you he cannot lift because… you can tell him that him that he is missing out on an opportunity to better himself and more importantly, his team. 



Sandbag Race For Time

Here is a video clip of me doing a sandbag race for time.  My goal is to get a 50lb, 80lb, and 100lb sand bag down the 30 yard lane in the shortest time possible.  When I filmed this, I used the race as a GPP (general physical preparedness) finisher at the end of my workout.  This type of circuit can be used as a stand alone workout as well. If you do that, I would suggest increasing the amount of rounds you do, maybe 3-5 rounds based on your conditioning level or the conditioning level you are trying to get your athletes to achieve. I would also determine the distance that you are carrying the bags and your work to rest ratio based on the sport that you play.  For example, if I were using this finisher for basketball players, I would have them carry the bags the length of the entire court.  I would also let them rest no longer than a minute and a half between rounds since that is probably the longest amount of time that they will have to rest on the court during an actual game.  By doing this, you are making the race more specific to your sport.

To increase competitiveness, you can definitely make this a relay race by dividing your team up into groups and having half the group on either endline.  Once one player has moved all three bags the length of the court, the player on the other end brings them back to their original starting point and so on.  You can also create variations of this race by designating what type of carry the athlete must do while sprinting.  For example, the first bag has to be an overhead carry, the second bag has to be a zercher carry, and the third bag a bearhug carry.  By doing this, you are forcing the athletes to work different muscles each time they are carrying a bag.  Whether you go individually or as a team, chart their times and post them so that they know what times to shoot for the next time they do this type of race. 

This type of conditioning goes beyond just running sprints because it requires the players to be explosive in getting the bags into a position that they can carry them and it requires them to do a weighted sprint.  I highly suggest this for any athlete looking to improve their game.

I’m Good Compared to Most People

I was at the dinner table on New Year’s Day spending some time with my family and an interesting discussion came up.  Actually it grew out of another discussion/argument that I was having with my grandmother about the excuses she was making about diet and exercise.  As I gave up on that argument in frustration, my mother took advantage of the silence to ask me if I thought I was obsessive.  OBSESSIVE!?  Why would I be obsessive, because I care about my health and the health of my family?  This seems reasonable, right?  My response was, of course, a resounding NO.  However, my mother was not satisfied. She started with the “but this” and “but that” nonsense.  I had to explain to my mother and to everyone else who was listening that I was in constant competition with myself to make myself a better person and that she should also be trying to do the same thing.  It was at this point that my aunt chimed in with, “Well compared to most 50 year olds, your mother looks good.”  I literally laughed out loud because of the complacency of this statement, and for a brief moment my mother was insulted, so I began to explain. 

Self improvement should be everyone’s goal and comparing yourself to “most people” is not going to get it done for you.  As unfortunate as it is to admit, “most people” are not worth comparing yourself to.  As a matter of fact, during my dinner table discussion I referred to “most people” as the dregs of society.  Fact is, we simply do not live in a society of over-achievers, but rather one that makes a habit of laziness and underachieving and nowhere is this more evident than in the health and fitness industry and athletics.  I wrote in a recent post about setting goals and how important that is in your progress toward becoming a great athlete.  This is no different.  If your goal is to be as good as most people then the title of this post is good enough for you.  However, if success is truly what you desire, you must go above and beyond when setting your goals.  When determining what it is that you want to achieve, choose someone who is better than you to compare yourself to and strive to get to that person’s level of success.  Once you have done so, choose another person who is on a higher level and work towards that level.  By doing this, you will never be satisfied with the level that you are at and you will constantly be looking to improve upon yourself. 

This philosophy does not just work for improving your health and fitness level at the age of 50, but can also be applied to athletics.  While striving to be a better athlete keep in mind that perspective is everything.  If you are the best shooter on your basketball team but are not able to get your shot off in games against other teams, then perhaps comparing yourself to just your teammates is not enough.  Broaden the spectrum of players you are comparing yourself to because there is a chance that your teammates might not be great shooters at all and to say you are the best out of 10 or 12 guys that cannot shoot well is not going to make you any better.  Or maybe you are the strongest guy in your gym but you are physically getting your butt kicked in competition.  Chances are your gym is filled with weaklings, and maybe you should consider training somewhere else.

Yes, perspective is everything when it comes to self improvement as a person or an athlete.  If you want to be successful, do not stop at comparing yourself to “most people” because when put into perspective, most people are underachievers.  Compare yourself to the top members of society, the ones who are truly successful at what they do and then determine where you stand.  If you feel that you are on par with the elite then good for you, but if not, then you too are just “most people.”

Tire Flip Conditioning Circuit

Hey guys, here is a great conditioning circuit I did to finish off a workout. The tire weighs about 475 pounds. I start at a specific point and each time I flip the tire I do 1 pushup, plyometric jumps through the tire and then sprint back to my starting point. In this video, I work up to 6 tire flips and I try to complete the circuit in the quickest time possible.

This circuit is a great example of using strongman training for conditioning, explosive power, and strength.

2009, The Year Where Excuses Go to Die

Celebrating the new year got me thinking that this needs to be the year where excuses go to die. How many times have you said to yourself that you would do something to improve yourself as an athlete, but in the end came up with some reason not to. I should be working on my jumpshot right now but my friends are having a Guitar Hero Competition. I don’t need to work on my ball-handling because I already worked on my jumper today. I can’t lift because I don’t have a membership to the gym. I wish I had more time to devote to practice, but I have to watch my television shows. The list can go on forever, but I say that this year, you put an end to that list and become the player…the athlete that you always wanted to be.  Last time I checked, Guitar Hero (albeit a great game) is not going to pay the impending $130,000 college tuition bill.  However, a scholarship for basketball, or football, or soccer, or whatever sport you choose, will.  So, in 2009, set some goals for yourself.

Goal setting is one of the most important steps in your quest to become a great athlete. You need to know what it is that you are trying to attain and goal setting will help clarify that for you.  When setting goals, make sure to set short term goals and long term goals.  Your short term goals should be goals that are easily attainable; something that motivates you to strive for your long term goals.  Long term goals can be your end result, whether it be starting in the next game, or earning a college scholarship.   Post these goals in places that you will see every day.  These places can include your desk in your room, your refrigerator, your locker at school…wherever, just make them visible. This type of visibility will serve as a constant reminder of what you are striving for. Now that your goals are set and visible, set out to accomplish them. Finally, become disciplined enough to set aside the time to do the necessary things that will make those goals a reality.

Prioritize your actions this year based on your goals. Make training for your sport your top priority and move the excuses like Guitar Hero and One Tree Hill down the list. In doing so, you WILL make 2009 the year where excuses go to die.