Basketball Q&A

Here are some introductory Q&A that you will see from me and many other basketball folks on Art Horne’s upcoming all-basketball Website.
When you see the names he has compiled, I think the information will be very excellent.
And as always, these things typically apply to everybody, not just basketball.

5. Generally speaking, what is your philosophy for evaluating/treating a basketball player? How does it differ from
other sport athletes?

To answer the 2nd question first, very simply, the answer is that my approach with a basketball player does not differ from any other sport’s athlete. This philosophy is based on the notion that we must screen and assess basic fundamental presentations of mobility and stability before negotiating strength and speed. Certainly while important for all athletes, I think the inherent movement challenges of the tall athlete as well as one that plays basketball puts these qualities at the forefront.
The standard height of the basketball athlete typically yields a shift away from muscular stability towards passive stability of using tension of muscles, ligaments, and bones to support controlling a movement. Given the longer segments of the spine, arms, and legs, and relatively low training age of most basketball players, the qualities of bodyweight movement far supersede those of power and agility. Nearly all the time, improving fundamental movement patterns will be default improve the sexier qualities of vertical jump or power clean.
Coupling these natural tendencies for inefficient movement patterns, the inherent poor biomechanics of the jump shot add to the ingrained motor patterns governing the neuromuscular system. These are the patterns that I think hold priority for my attention in evaluating/treating a basketball player.


8. What advice would you give for young professionals looking to follow in your footsteps?

Most people are very excited to be very good or even great at what they do. Less strive to the be best they can be every day. Very few strive to be better than everyone else at what they do every day they have the opportunity to impact someone. There is a right way and wrong way to climb the ladder, but if you can manage a healthy and productive way to be better than everyone else, to be a leader in everything you do, you will automatically be the best you can be, and automatically be great. Maybe this is theoretically impossible, but if you try, you gain everything else by default. One thing I am not humble about is my drive to be better than everyone else. I am clearly not the smartest, most successful, or most charismatic, etc., but leaving nothing on table allows one to be best they can be.


2. What is your philosophy on basketball conditioning? Some sport coaches believe in long distance training to improve basketball specific endurance? What is your opinion?

I believe the literature has reported basketball at the national level to be played at a 1:6 work:rest ratio. This suggests for every 10 seconds of movement, there are 60 seconds of rest. This is fairly staggering for a sport requiring such a conditioning demand. Certainly these sport-requirements dictate an interval-based training program, or at least one that allows for very high intensities or VO2 max in the “on” interval and substantial rest in the “off” of the interval.
Given the facts that many coaches believe in long distance training, I do not force feed any specific intervals for basketball programming. Just do intervals! Whether it be linear patterns like ladders or 17s, etc., these are all relatively shorter distances that qualify by broad based definitions of interval training. Perhaps I should define this as High Intensity Interval Training, recently popularized by the informal literature review from Dr. Mark Smith. My philosophy relies of tremendous intensity followed by longer bouts of rest. Playing with on/off times are fun, and I am more interested in the approach than the ultimate efficiency of using only certain numbers.
If at all possible, using heart rate monitors during training is my preferred approach. I think Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the ultimate indicator of conditioning. This in a lay way is how quickly the body restores a resting or submaximal heart rate. We may end an interval after 20 seconds @ a heart rate of 185, but Athlete 1 returns to 140 in 20 seconds, and Athlete 2 takes 60 seconds. Clearly Athlete 1 is in better physical shape. RPE can also be used to run the restart of the interval.
The beauty of this type of training is that it lends brilliantly to very respectable times in a 1 and 2 mile runs or 10 mile bike time trials, which I think have a role in motivation during pre-season testing.


3. Please discuss your philosophy on taping/bracing ankles. Does this cause problems elsewhere? What are the advantages of taping/bracing?

My philosophy is something is better than nothing, but it needs to be the right something. This surely sounds confusing, so please let me explain.
There is no doubting the thought process popularized by Mike Boyle’s Joint by Joint Theory that a loss of ankle mobility can foster knee pain in level changes. These level changes would include any strength training or athletic movement requiring a drop of the center of gravity. If a loss of ankle mobility is in the sagittal plane, this will cause an increase in anterior knee compression. If there is a loss of ankle mobility in the transverse plane, medial knee pain is more the probability. These instances are regardless of any taping or bracing choice.
Certainly using an external modality for stability such as taping or bracing will decrease ankle mobility and lead to knee pain. Instances of knee pain in basketball certainly are very high. Is it the poor eccentric control upon the landing that causes jumper’s knee, or is it the lack of ankle mobility adding to joint compliance and ideal force dispersion through deceleration?
If the goal is to limit ankle sprains with the taping or bracing, we should also be quite aware that hip and core stability beget ankle stability.
But as I said, something is better than nothing. I believe proprioception can be gained from elastic tape jobs that actually provide very little support from an osteoligamentous standpoint. Maybe a neoprene ankle sleeve with an open heel would serve the same purpose. I believe this proprioception at the skin level can be very useful in “increasing the speed limit” on mechanoreception to the brain in bouts of potential ankle sprains.
Less is more, but the anti-ankle sprain muscles live in the hips, not the ankles.

  • June 13, 2010

Leave a Reply 4 comments

Bo Kinnick Reply

Charlie,

Vis-a-vis taping, would it be wrong to view certain types of tape jobs as temporary bridges used in certain cases while still simultaneously working toward correcting (as uch as possible) the underlying reasons why the ankle may be at an increased risk?

I know some are vehemently against taping while others may embrace specific techniques on a case-by-case basis, but it would seem that, much like manipulating a training program to work around certain injuries while still taking the necessary measures to restore optimal function, taping can be perfectly fine if a player absolutely has to be on the court, provided that the tape job is not used as a permanent crutch (i.e. the temporary bridge comment).

Charlie Reply

Bo – Of course if anything from heavy taping to spreading peanut butter over the ankle allows a player to contribute on game-day, it needs to be done. If, and indeed it’s always a big if, there is any recourse from this, we’ll clean it up later.
The bottom line is we are all have a way to contribute to winning games, and if taping is one of them, it is easily justified.

Bo Kinnick Reply

Sorry for the second post, Charlie, but I also wanted to ask you how you feel about coaches who say that the best way to get in “basketball shape” is by playing basketball, and as such a training program wouldn’t likely need to prioritize conditioning outside of select cases where it may be unusually lacking?

With so many competing demands and the stresses incurred throughout the competitive season, it seems like many coaches rush to prescribe added conditioning/energy systems work without considering the toll taken in practices and games.

Some overly zealous coaches seem perpetually relegated to the “more is better camp” to the point where even the most robust athletes with primo work capacity start to wonder what their deal is.

Charlie Reply

Bo – No need to apologize. Please post as much as you like. There are many others that frequent here, many much smarter and accomplished than I, that can offer insight as well.

If practices are long and hard, then that very well can serve as conditioning. I do hope there is an appreciation for supercompensation of training above and beyond game-day demands, but guys are getting pounded into the ground, beating them up even more makes no sense.

These issues are less with conditioning, overtraining, or supercompensation, and more the sociology of team environments that so often see Coaches as Napoleonic and demanding the final say. It’s not about them being right. It’s just about them being.
We’ve all had to wade those waters and will probably have to for many years to come.

Some of the special situations in the NBA like Miami, San Antonio, Chicago have Strength Coaches that have the final say. Is it any surprise of their long-term success?

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