This last week the staff at Bullett Performance Training got together with strength coach Michael Robinson to dive deeper into the topic of sports performance for basketball. Coach Robinson is a strength and conditioning coach at California Baptist University. He has been there for over five years as a coach for women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s water polo, men’s and women’s swim, and wrestling. Michael grew up passionate about playing basketball and now can pursue that same passion through the field of sports performance to better collegiate athletes today.
It is increasingly important to understand the specific demands of a sport when making strength and conditioning program considerations. For basketball, these include movement demands such as distance traveled, frequency of movements, and duration the athlete must be able to sustain.
Studies have shown that basketball players cover about 5-6 km (about 3.5 miles) in 40 minutes on average in a collegiate setting. Within the live playing time of a game, players travel about 130 meters/ minute and about 110 meters/ min counting the entirety of a game (the decrease is a result of stoppage during a game. Free throws, turnovers, etc. result in stoppages, decreasing the average distance traveled in comparison to the live competition average distance traveled). There are apparent differences between the first and second halves due to game speed and fatigue that play a role. These statistics bring to light the fact that although basketball is considered to be an intermittent sport with low-intensity work, it also highly relies on the aerobic energy system to sustain a whole game with adequate energy levels.
Studies have shown that athletes change activity type every one to three seconds within the 40 minutes played during a game. This could be from a shuffle to run, sprint to jump, and anywhere in between. Player specificity comes into play with this concept because back-court players such as point guards will statistically move more and move with more intensity. Frontcourt players like a center or forward do not need to train the same as a guard because their role on the court is different.
After understanding the demands of the sport, coach Robinson specifically focuses on five elements when planning out and implementing a strength program for his athletes. These include maximal dynamic strength (MDS), rate of force development (RFD), high-velocity movement (HV), the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), and lastly neuromuscular skill and coordination (NSC).
All that being said, Coach Robinson works on bottom-up tactics with his teams as well as fluidity with the potential to see the significant transfer from weight room strength to skill on the court. With the categorization of levels of energy and intensity demands, coach Robinson periodizes to accommodate the sports season. In the off-season they are obtaining the majority of their skill work in practice, therefore weight room time can be spent building strength and aerobic capacity and vice versa during in-season.
As we learned together this past week, it was apparent how Coach Robinson helped make history with his women’s basketball team going 26-1 in Division I this season. His emulating passion and intense knowledge for the sport of basketball and sports performance has led him to be a loved coach on the campus of CBU and will make an impact on the field of strength and conditioning for all his years to come.