Friday, June 05, 2009

Developing the Complete Athlete

Me: "Your dad says you've been bringing the ball up the court."

PB&J: "Yeah. No one wants to guard me. It's kinda fun."

Hell yeah!

I'm sure it is a little intimidating for some 5' 10" dude to see a 6' 10" dude coming down the court with the ball, with skill, at speed. Big dudes don't usually take charge and handle the ball; they usually lumber down the court, trying to keep up with the smaller guys. But my goal, beginning in February 2008 wasn't just to make PB&J a better post player. It was to make him a complete athlete.

Athletic development is more than just increasing a kid's vertical or improving their 40 yd dash. Or at least it should be. It is developing body awareness, mobility and strength that leads to a set of physical competencies that allow the individual to better perform sport skills. We want to develop all-around athletic ability; not pigeon-hole someone into a team sport position, or their height or weight.

When I first started working with PB&J, one of his goals was to improve his vertical jump. Both he and his parents asked me about "jump shoes" and using a Vertimax; I would smile and politely say that those things are not part of the plan. We were going to move, squat, lunge, land, jump, step up, rinse, repeat and do it again and again. His body did not have the foundation it needed to land and jump well; in fact, it had failed him in 2007, as he suffered a tibial avulsion fracture during a game. Even after going through rehab, he still struggled with pain and swelling in his knee; and it was hard for him to dunk, even at 6' 9". I didn't want him anywhere near a Vertimax or those stupid shoes. We had to start from ground zero.

Now, after a year of consistent work, PB&J is reaping the benefits of his work and becoming that well-rounded athlete. Coaches and scouts are taking notice. He is moving well, taking charge on the court--exploring his new ability. And the fun has just begun. His physiological furnace is finally running at full tilt and he now has the fundamental movement skills and infrastructure necessary to take advantage of this critical window in his physical maturation. Ryan can train with more intensity and use a wider variety of strength/power exercises. Because he has been patient and committed--really invested in himself--time is now on his side; he can be much more than a post player.

And the only special shoes he has are a pair of size 16 Adidas weightlifting shoes. We don't need no stinking jump shoes. :-)


Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Awesome Job! It is good to see an athlete develop completely. Must be rewarding to see a kid significantly improve his movement efficiency and have it make such an impact on his sport.

So many kids, especially now, have a program that they mindlessly follow. Each day, I watch high school and college-aged athletes kids training. They are simply doing an exercise just to do it. The worst, of course, is still the power clean, which looks like a power back-extension/sit-up.

Keep up your great work!

Anonymous said...

I have had the pleaure of witnessing the "evolution" of PB&J! What a treat. Not only does he move well, he looks muscular and put together. Tracy's approach is diligent, practical, and straight ahead. No B.S. needed and this included the Vertimax and Jump shoes. Keep up the good work!

Boris said...

I just read your post on club swimming (I'm a bit behind).

Oh the stories we could share!