So how did everyone's bracket turnout? For the first time in my life, I actually won my bracket pool! Now there were only 11 people involved, but don't steal my thunder!
Some of you still probably have something riding on tomorrows game, and with the National Championship rolling around tomorrow night, it only makes sense to take a look at how basketball players train. For that, we brought you an interview with Paul Fabritz, of PJF Performance in Tempe, Arizona. Paul is a sports performance coach with an emphasis on training basketball athletes.
He knows the ins and outs of working with basketball athletes, and has taken a lot of players to the next level with his training. So sit back and enjoy Paul giving you some knowledge!
1. Hey Paul thanks for doing this interview for us! First can you give us a little background on yourself, what you're doing, and any other areas of specific interest.
Hey Michael, first let me start by saying, you run a hell of a blog! Quality information on a consistent basis, couldn’t ask for anything more as a reader!
Anyways, I’m a Performance Enhancement Coach based in Tempe, AZ. My business is called PJF Performance LLC, and my main focus is basketball specific strength and conditioning. I’ve always been passionate about exercise and basketball so I figured why not combine the two and make a career out of it! I have college basketball experience at the JC level and also one year of D1 experience at Northern Arizona University. Unfortunately, my basketball career didn’t go as planned due to breaking 5 bones in 4 years. Who would have thought Vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption!?
I think my misfortunes actually helped me in the long run, because while I was injured I started training my teammates and worked towards certifications. I began burying my face in books related to training and became a strength and conditioning nerd.
In the last 5 years I’ve worked as a trainer at commercial gyms, private gyms, and spent some time as a basketball strength coach at the high school level before I decided to open my own business in 2012.
2. Awesome Stuff! You keep enjoying that warm weather, while here in the Midwest we can't catch a break from this cold stuff. What are the main type of clients you deal with?
I’ve worked with athletes of all sports, but my main clientele is basketball players. I also work with general population through online program design, group classes, and semi-private sessions. Even though my biggest passion is training athletes, I hope that general fitness is always a part of my business because there’s nothing more rewarding than helping transform someone’s life!
3. What are some of the common dysfunctions, asymmetries, mobility, stability issues you see in clients? (I know this could turn into a paper itself, so just pick your top 2-3)
One asymmetry that I often see with basketball players is right/left shoulder differences. Basketball players are unique in the sense that they are “half way” overhead athletes. If a player is putting up 300+ shots a day (which they should be), their shooting arm is constantly overhead, while the shoulder of the guide hand doesn’t travel above 90 degrees. In addition to figuring out the mobility/stability issues going on, sometimes I have to train them like “normal” overhead athletes and limit shoulder presses, pull-ups, etc.
The other one that I see is a bit more obvious, but basketball players always have right/left leg asymmetries due to favoring their dominant jumping leg. Playing for hours every day and constantly jumping off their dominant leg leads to major strength/balance differences between the two legs. I’ve seen players really struggle with bilateral lower body exercises when beginning training after a long season because of the right/left asymmetry. I’ve found that unilateral lower body exercises can be far more beneficial for these athletes so that we can equal out the legs a bit.
4. You put out some great info on improving jumping ability. What are some key factors to improving ones vertical for sports?
- Genetics- tendon/muscle insertion site, muscle composition, etc.
- Speed- I’ve never seen a fast person with a bad vertical unless it’s due to poor jumping mechanics. If you know how to move fast you can get off the floor fast, which I believe is the most important component of VJ. Fast athletes use the benefits of the stretch shortening cycle while slow people live in the amortization phase.
- Strength- while powerlifters may not have huge verts, strength is important because the stronger you are the higher your power potential becomes. “Natural jumpers” aka the 130 pound kid who has never trained a day in his life but throws down 360 windmills will usually max out their jumping potential at an early age because they never improve strength. They could do all the plyo’s in the world but their power potential is too low unless they suck it up and get in the weight room.
- Elasticity- I like how Mark Verstegen describes elasticity (I will mess this quote up pretty bad, oh well) “put your hand down on a table, keep 4 fingers firmly on the table and raise your middle finger as high as you can, now slam the middle finger down as hard as you can. Probably not much force, right? Now, do the same thing but instead of lifting your middle finger off the table with muscular force, relax the finger and pull it up as high as you can with your off hand, release the middle finger and notice how hard it comes down on the table. A lot more force. You just experienced the different between muscle contraction and elasticity." If you can improve elasticity you will jump higher and make each explosive movement with less energy.
The most sure-fire way to improve VJ- improving relative strength. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or advanced athlete, if you improve relative strength you will jump higher. When it comes to improving VJ you either need to put more force into the floor or you need to get off the floor faster. Problem is, sometimes advanced athletes fall victim to the law of diminishing returns and have a hard time putting more force into the ground or getting off the floor faster. For these advanced athletes, the only guaranteed way of jumping higher is by losing a few lbs while maintaining strength OR maintaining body weight while slightly improving strength.
5. Depth jumps are always a hot topic when it comes to elite performance, especially in jumping events. How do you use DJ's, what heights, set/rep schemes, rest periods, when on the training calender, important factors, etc?
I believe that a higher drop is NOT always better for DJ’s. It really depends on the athletes training status and phase of program but we usually won’t go above 24 inch boxes. The only time I use high boxes is for drop jump sticks. We don’t use more than 5 reps per set because you’re not trying to build hypertrophy or endurance, just power. Usually no more than 4 sets, and a lot of times we will stop at 2 or 3 sets if the athlete is decreasing jump height or not displaying quick reaction off the floor. I usually don’t program DJ’s any more than 1 day per week. I’ve seen athletes develop stress fractures from using DJ’s with too high of frequency. I think coaches often underestimate the intensity of DJ’s and program too high of volume. I wouldn’t use DJ’s too often in-season because of the CNS fatigue and the high eccentric component can create a good amount of soreness.
6. If you could pick out one area that most athletes need to spend more time on, what would it be?
Probably mobility. I don’t know many athletes who go in the gym by themselves and do a planned mobility circuit. If they work on mobility, it’s probably a few minutes during warm-up or cool down. I think programs should include active rest days where the athlete goes in and only does mobility for 30 minutes. If athletes understood how important mobility is for their game, they would treat it like they do every other aspect of their training program.
7. How's your bracket looking so far? Who'd you pick to win it all?
Bracket = horrible. As always I went into march madness feeling over confident and left defeated! I had Indiana winning it all. I thought it was the year of the Big 10 so I had 4 of their teams in the final 4 and 6 big 10 teams in the elite 8. Oops
8. Best dunker of all-time?
In game I’d go Jordan. Dunk contest I’d probably give it to Vince Carter. However, if there were more footage on the street legend Earl Manigault my answer would probably change. He was a guard and could grab a quarter off the top of the backboard!
9. Squats or Deadlifts?
If I could only do one exercise for the rest of my life it would be deadlifts because of the full body strengthening effects. But I must say that my preference is squats.
10. Olympics lifts or other forms of power production?
For 80% of athletes I like other forms of power production. Olympic lifts a great for power production if your form is good, but I think most athletes only have decent form on the oly lifts.
11. Lebron James or Kevin Durant?
LBJ because he’s the player that we all created on NBA 2k, except he’s a better passer.
12. What are you looking forward to in the future for your work and for this S&C world?
I’m excited to witness the evolution of athleticism. I heard the commentators of march madness saying that this years players are more athletic than they’ve ever seen. This shows that all of the strength and conditioning research that comes out every month is being put to use! I’m excited to see how the development of our athletes will change as more and more research is coming out.
Thanks to Paul for taking the time to give us such a great interview. Remember to check out PJF Performance, and if you're in the Tempe area, get in contact with Paul and become a better player today!
Also be sure to sign-up for BBA updates so you never miss a thing going on here. Until next time Go Get 'Em!