Unlock Your Highest Potential

Basketball Related FAQ

Q: Based on your research, what is the optimal approach for a team sport athlete, say a female basketball player, to take after a game or practice? A: That’s a loaded question since there so many factors that come into play. The best I can do is give you an optimal daily strategy for a female basketball player who practices from 4:00-6:00pm. Here’s what I might recommend (remember this is just a sample and doesn’t apply to all female basketball players). Notice that the bulk of the carbohydrates come during/after exercise.

  • 8am Breakfast – 6 egg white omelet with 1-cup veggies and 1 piece of fat free cheese.
  • 10am Snack – Protein shake in water with added flaxseed oil
  • 12pm Lunch – 3oz Chicken breast and large salad with fish oil capsules
  • 2pm Snack – Protein shake in water with added flaxseed oil
  • 4pm-6pm Practice – Glucose-electrolyte beverage like Gatorade
  • 6pm Post-workout – Liquid drink containing 20-25g fast digesting protein (like whey) and 40-50g of simple carbohydrate (like Gatorade)
  • 8pm Dinner – 4oz burger, large salad, medium sized baked potato, fish oil capsules
  • 10pm Snack before bed – Plain yogurt, 2 pieces of fresh fruit

Follow Up Q: What if an athlete has another game or practice the next day.

A: No difference. Remember, the post-workout carbohydrate and protein consumption can rapidly replenish muscle carbohydrate stores; much more rapidly than trying to do so during the other meals of the day. So the athlete such as a basketball player should be ready by the next day.


Q: What post-workout regimen have you found most effective on basketball tournament days (3 games on one day and the games 90 minutes apart)?

A: During tournament days, I think liquid nutrition is paramount. Besides a good breakfast containing low glycemic index carbohydrates (like oatmeal, fruit, and whole grain breads), high quality protein, and good fats, it’s critical to fuel up with liquid protein and carbohydrate drinks all day between games. Keeping the ratio of carbs to protein the same (2:1), sipping recovery drinks all day will maximize muscle energy stores and performance during each subsequent game. As long as the athlete is sure to have a good breakfast (as mentioned) and a good lunch meal (similar to the breakfast guidelines), the rest of the day should be spent sipping protein and carbs.


Q: I was looking around in search of information about training programs for high school basketball players, and your name came up as the expert in that field. If you have any time, I was wondering if you could help me out. Basically, here's the breakdown: 18 years old male athlete, 6'6, and about 290lbs. He has never touched a weight before in his life. I get to work with him for a little more than 6 months. Since he is overweight and slow my main concern is getting his diet in order and shedding some pounds. I want him in the gym 4 days a week working on basketball specific drills. I also want to design workout program for him that will increase his speed, quickness, and strength.  I was wondering if you could help me outline a program for him, or give me any advice at all. If you could, that would greatly be appreciated. Thanks for your time.

A: There are quite a few things that you need to take into account.  First, he's overweight and deconditioned.  The single worst thing that you can do with him right now is getting him doing all sorts of basketball-specific conditioning work where he's running all over the place.  The kid will have a stress fracture, or patellar or Achilles tendinosis so quickly that you'll be amazed.  You need to lean him out to reduce the amount of weight he's going to decelerate with every step and landing, but this can't be done in an exclusively weight-bearing exercise sense.  I recommend you: 

  1. Clean up his diet (easier said than done with an 18 year-old)
  2. Incorporate some energy systems work that is comparable metabolically to his sport (i.e. interval training) but is easier on the body (e.g. swimming, elliptical, rowing, and - although I don't really like the idea - biking). 

No treadmills or distance running.  He's obviously going to need to be on the court some, but you need to really watch what you do with him right now; I'd stick with skill work specifically and only use a few drills in order to improve his footwork. Save the more challenging on-court conditioning for when he's more fit.


In terms of resistance training, he's a beginner, so you need to treat him as such.  Start him off with higher reps and lighter weights in order to foster proper technique, build confidence, and promote connective tissue strength.  As he gets more and more neurologically proficient, you can increase the weights a bit.  By six months, he definitely ought to be ready for some significant loading; in fact, his performance will go up simply because the resistance training will teach him to recruit more muscle fibers.

Just because you have to start him from scratch does not mean that you should just plop him on machines with fixed lines of motion, though; get him training with free weights. Taller guys are always more susceptible to the classic postural perturbations, so make a point of including plenty of horizontal rows, glute-activation (supine bridges, X-band walks), and single-leg exercises (most tall guys have terrible frontal plane stability). Above all, you need to hammer on his core strength (specifically from a stabilization standpoint) and posterior chain (most tall guys are very quad-dominant).  Watch to make sure that he isn't hyperextending at the lumbar spine with any overhead lifting that you're doing.  If you have access, a trap bar will be your best friend in his programming.

All in all, just remember to fit the program to the athlete, and not the athlete to the program.  You seem to have a preconceived notion in your head that he needs to be in the gym four days per week; what if his body can't handle that?  You can't run your big men like you run your guards, and although 6-6 isn't giant, it still warrants consideration, especially since he's deconditioned.  Also, you seem to be very enthusiastic about this, but can you say the same for him?  If his heart isn't into it, it won't matter how perfect your programming is; that's one of the fundamental challenges of coaching.

Hope that helps Good luck!


Q: Is plantar flexion strengthened sufficiently through plyometrics and playing the game (basketball) or do I need to do more specific things?

A: Well in my opinion the importance of the plantar flexors (calves) is not so much a matter of "strength" as it is having "good feet" or "bad feet". You hear this a lot amongst football scouts - So and so has "good feet" and so and so has "bad feet". What's meant by good feet and bad feet? It's really nothing more complicated then having good footwork and being light on the feet vs having bad footwork and being heavy on the feet. It's the ability to quickly and efficiently control the body while transferring forces from the hips through the feet and down into the ground. If you got a broken foot or bad ankle you can generate as much force from the hips and thighs as you want but you ain't going anywhere in a hurry because what transfers those forces to the ground (the feet) aren't working right! In much the same way, many athletes have "broken feet" even though their feet ain't broken!

Strength "can" be a limiting factor but is not often the case. One thing you can do to prove this to yourself is try and jump from a standstill with completely straight legs. Regardless of how strong your calves are or how strong they get, you aren't gonna go very high! If you watch little kids run around on the playground many move better on there feet then a lot of high school athletes despite being relatively much weaker. Additionally, if plantar flexor strength were so important, a surefire method to improve footwork would be to put someone in a calf raise machine and have them do negative accentuated single leg calf raises. That will quickly and impressively improve strength, yet it won't do much of anything for performance.

It's all a matter of movement proficiency. Obviously, before you can increase the amplitude of force that you generate behind a movement pattern, you have to be able to perform the movement pattern effectively and proficiently to begin with. Having good feet is key to that. The more efficiently you move, the less effort you move with, and the more things you can do on your feet, the better off you are. For that reason I like to incorporate an assortment of various footwork drills for athletes. This can involve ladder drills, linear, lateral, and backwards agility drills, multidirectional drills, and an assortment of basic and advanced plyometric drills emphasizing proper position up on the balls of the feet with quick and efficient change of direction etc.

Developing "good feet" should be the very first step on the path towards athletic prowess. It's one that can be developed even in very young athletes. Some people do have advantages in this department, and those advantages are often apparent from a very early age, but any healthy athlete can immensely improve this ability.

Q. I am a 15-year-old who is trying my best to earn a scholarship for basketball. Are there any supplements that could send my height bursting through the roof? I was thinking of using a GH-releaser or maybe even getting some real GH.

A. I know how important athletics are to you since I've been a competitive athlete all my life. But I want you to realize that the risks of trying to boost your height with growth hormone FAR outweigh the unlikely benefits. While GH use at your age might marginally increase your height (it is debatable though), it is more likely to increase the size of your organs, lead to the temporary destruction of your joints, and could lead to enlarged hands and jaw (a condition known as acromegaly). In addition, although GH may increase muscle mass, the new muscle seems to have poor strength ability relative to its size. So although you might be a bit taller, your muscles may not perform properly, your organs may fail early, and your joints may be a limiting factor in your performance. I may be wrong, but none of these side effects will lead to a career of basketball greatness. The several hundred dollars per week that you will have to spend on GH is probably something that might present a challenge as well. As far as supplements, the "GH-boosters" have been sadly disappointing. The ones that have been studied have been shown to be completely ineffective. And the ones that are being promoted as super-effective have absolutely no data to support them. So GH releasers will probably just be a waste of money for you. My advice at this point is to just keep training with weights, plyometrics, and cardiovascular conditioning. This will put you light years ahead of your peers. Trust me on this one. And you just might have a growth spurt coming on that will boost you up higher than you had expected.


Q: I saw you on the yoga room blindfolded. Is that a good way to practice yoga? Can you tell me some meditation techniques that you particularly like.

A: Sorry to bust you bubble, but I wasn’t doing yoga or meditating. Read my article Opening A Can of Worms. I was just simply training blindfolded. You probably caught me in a moment where I was simply resting so it looked like I was meditating.


Follow Up Q: That “Yoga Article” brought in some heated discussion between me and my wife who happens to be an avid Yoga student… Im curios, why do you train blindfolded?

A: Strength, movement efficiency, and safety of all movement is primarily determined by neuromuscular factors, in particular the kinesthetic sense and the underlying proprioceptive mechanisms which tell us about where all the components of our musculoskeletal system are and what they are doing relative to one another at any given time. The integration of information from all the senses (sight, sound, hearing, and touch), together with this proprioceptive information, enables us to execute a given movement in the most appropriate way in terms of pattern, speed, acceleration, and timing. The involves coordination of hand-eye, eye-foot, or bodily processes, which receive a great deal of attention in technical training. Adequate time, however, is generally not devoted to specific training of proprioception.

One way of improving proprioceptive efficiency is to diminish or block input from other sensory systems such as the eyes. Thus training with weights executing the olympic lifting or powerlifting movements while blindfolded, or practicing sports skills blindfolded, can be a valuable way of enhancing technical skills and producing strength, power, and movement efficiency, more effectively. For example, if you want to quickly improve your basketball skills then perform your ballhandling skills blindfolded, or with your eyes shut, for a total of at least 20 minutes per week. If you want to increase your proficiency in basic lifting movements, execute 1/3 of your squats or olympic lifts blindfolded once per week. Do the same if you're a gymnast or martial artist. You will find your technical mastery will quickly improve as you learn to fully engage your senses.

Q: I have asked several other experts about this and so far no one seems to give me an EXACT answer. Some trainers tell me I have to go steady and nonstop for 30 minutes or more to burn fat. Others tell me I have to do intervals. I'm getting tired of my cardio ritual and would like a change. I love basketball. I could play for an hour and enjoy every minute of it, and I feel like i'm getting a good workout doing it. But is it really the same for fat burning as a good, steady, intense run?

A: If you plug basketball to a calorie calculator, a moderate basketball game (full court game play) burns 839 calories per hour if you weigh 185 pounds. Moderate basketball (non-game) is 528 calories per hour. “Non-game" means either half court or just casual play with your buddies. Either way, 528-839 calories burned per hour sounds like a good fat burner to me. I would also say it's better than steady cardio because you'll have a variety of different challenges and intensity levels - running down the court, jumping, pivoting, shooting (and you said you enjoy it so that alone is a very good thing). If you feel guilty when you finish your game, as if you didn't do enough, when the game is over, just run intervals up and down the court... do about 6-10 of them or until you yak (jk).