One of the coaches that I admire and learn so much from just recently wrote a blog about in-season training. Now that we’re 4 weeks into the season, it’s inspired me to write a blog about my philosophy on in-season training.
The late Charlie Francis, speed coach extraordinaire, was quoted in his book Training For Speed as saying , “Ninety percent of my time is spent holding athletes back to prevent overtraining, and only 10 percent is spent motivating them to do more work.”
That pretty much sums up my in-season strength training philosophy.
I’m lucky enough that I get to work with athletes that have very little motivational problems. These athletes seek me out because they know there is more to skill development than just 2 hours of team practice per day.They fully understand that what you do after practice separates the good athletes from the great athletes. Like Charlie, the majority of my time in-season is holding these athletes back so they’re fresh for the court, not the weight room. Dan John and Pavel just wrote a brilliant book on just this type of training called Easy Strength.
My rules for in-season basketball training are as follows:
- Do no harm. The weight room should not detract from the hardwood. In fact, in-season strength training should actually improve player’s performance on the court. Do just enough to improve performance, and absolutely no more.
- Reduce the training volume by ~50% and slightly reduce the intensity. As Dan John said in “Easy Strength”, we’ll coax the 80% 1rm up so it doesn’t strain the nervous too much, yet allows the athlete to increase their 1-rm. We never go to failure on any exercise. In fact, most of our athletes barely break a sweat during our strength training session.
- Focus on corrective exercises. We want the players active and healthy. No matter how great an athlete is, if he/she can’t play, he’s not an athlete.
- Spend the majority of the training session stretching and foam rolling. In the team setting, most players completely ignore this component. Thus, we focus on it. We really work the abductors, adductors, hip flexors, and hamstrings. We use a little static, dynamic, and AIS. I really like Chris Frederick and Ann Frederick’s techniques in Stretch to Win.
- We do not perform any plyometric drills. Basketball practice is enough plyometric activity. We will however utilize Olympic lifts like 1-arm dumbbell snatches, push press, and kettlebell swings. We’ll keep the reps low (3 or less) and sets low ( 3 or less). We’ll superset them as complexes with the primary strength exercise for that session. As long as we keep the rest intervals long (2 minutes or more) and avoid going to failure, we haven’t found much CNS fatigue. In fact, we’ve found the opposite: their CNS has become stimulated, and it’s transferred to the court for our skill drills.
- Along with stretching and foam rolling, we also focus on activation-type exercises, especially for the glute medius and maximus.
Dan John and Pavel discussed our tendency as Americans to try and compartmentalize everything (strength training in a 45 minute block, skill development in a 45 minute block, etc. ), and how it may be better to actually train all qualities together. Dan talked about taking his kettlebell to his javelin practices, and incorporating swings in between javelin throws. We’ve been experimenting with this a little, and hope to try it a little more in the off-season. For example, if a shooter isn’t exploding into his jump shot, we’ll throw in a few kettlebell swings to get his hips moving. If a player looks to stiff on defense, we’ll have him do a few goblet squats to loosen up the legs.
Those are just a few things we think are particularly important for in-season training for basketball players to keep them fresh, strong, explosive, and injury-free.