What does this statement mean?  This is what some uneducated strength coaches are telling basketball players about some other strength coaches (me and some of the strength coaches who work with me in this case). I would respond to this question as follows.

What is your profession?
Do you train athletes all day?
Do you know functional anatomy?
Do you know exercise physiology?
Do you know how to train the various strength qualities in a targeted manner?
Can you analyze a game and the players’ individual strengths and weaknesses and develop a training plan for them?
Do you know what energy system(s) needs to be trained for an athlete’s sport or position?
Can you identify structural weakness in an athlete?
How do you address these issues so the athlete can have a longer, healthier career?

A small percentage of basketball coaches that go around selling “sport-specific” training and using this concept to scare athletes to train with them because they want to handle the players’ strength training as well is crazy and shameful.

A player came to one of my AAS colleagues desperate for a program that would help him excel. This is crunch time for him as many schools are looking at him and he knows he needs to make a change so he can take his game to the next level.  After many years of working with this basketball coach’s “strength training” program, this talented kid still has such weak and tight legs, it’s incredible he hasn’t blown his ACL and he constantly complains about knee issues. The kid’s hamstrings, ankles, shoulders, and hips are all tight and weak.

The list goes on and on. He is as tight as a guitar string and as mobile as a 60-year-old, 400-pound coach potato.

After working with my fellow AAS coach for four weeks the difference in this young man’s mobility and flexibility is night and day. He had a showcase game in the States last week and played the game of his life. He told his Mom he felt like a beast out there, a man against boys. He felt like this is how he should have been playing all season.

He racked up 35 points and scouts were asking him where he had been hiding! The coach said this what I have been waiting to see! This was his last show case game for a while, so he will be buckling down in the offseason and training, working on his weak links and laying that solid foundation to ensure he comes back stronger and healthier next season.

I remember driving home one day and listening to the Raptors old Coach, Butch Carter. He said what is killing young basketball players these days is summer ball. The players don’t take the time in the summer lay a solid foundation, get strong and healthy so they can withstand the pounding of a rigorous season. This is equally true of hockey players, soccer players, and football players too by the way.

It’s just common sense – you need to take a step back, get assessed by a PROFESSIONAL strength coach, not your team’s head coach. Remember this saying, “JACK OF ALL TRADES MASTER OF NONE”.  My fellow AAS coaches and I do one thing and that one thing is Strength & Conditioning.

Have you watched a basketball game up close and seen how physical the game is? The pounding these athletes take on their bodies is huge! Attacking the basket, being strong in the paint and at the same time having the finesse to hit a jumper or a smooth lay up.

Basketball is a great sport. I will never forget playing some streetball in my early teens in New Jersey. It was like I was playing pick-up football! No one was playing paddy-cakes out there! I learned really fast how physical this game could be when my nose got bloodied.

So it blows my mind that I do not see more ball players lifting heavy, hard, and frequently. You are afraid it will mess up your shot? Not if you are training with a qualified professional who knows how to train in a way that enhances athletic performance as opposed to just size and looks.

Those are not the same thing at all, and many Trainers who do a good job at getting people jacked do not have a proper understanding of what is involved in training for performance. Make sure the person you choose to train you has the knowledge and experience required to help you achieve your particular goals! AAS-certified coaches have the knowledge and expertise to handle this type of training.

Back to the knucklehead coach who is trying to play with this young man’s head by making a simple statement, “He doesn’t have any basketball players”.  For your information, my fellow AAS coaches and I have actually trained many players that have went on to get scholarships.

But my point is, don’t get suckered into this crap of sport-specific training. Only an uneducated strength coach will really use that phrase as a general training philosophy because they have no real knowledge of:

  • Strength
  • Energy systems
  • The Adaptation process
  • Specific strength qualities
  • Power development
  • Physiological adaptations specific to each phase in a periodized approach
  • How to really optimize the Central Nervous System
  • The importance of weightlifting as it transfers to sport
  • How weightlifting contributes to athlete durability and dexterity
  • How to develop strength/power/speed/flexibility/mobility
  • How to develop monstrous work capacity at a high percentage of maximal output
  • How to most effectively develop maximal force

Ok, let me take a step back. Its not easy to get an athlete to buy into a true system of training like AAS. The athlete might lose their hops! Yes, their performance will drop for a little bit, they will initially feel sore, slow on the court, maybe even lose their shot for a bit. However, those things are all just signs of progress, which is usually mistaken for, “Oh shit, this training is not working for me!” or “I need to take some time off!”.

This is the worst thing an athlete can do, DON’T STOP, the athlete will adapt! Do you think your body wants change? The human organism wants nothing to do with change – your body and mind will play tricks on you to avoid the process of change. I cannot count the number of times I have received a call or text from athletes telling me they feel smashed and need the day off!

My response is always, “No, get your ass in here!” And boom, most of the time they have the best session they have had in a long time or even hit a personal best!

If you feel the athlete is not buying in to the program, sit down with them and walk them through the process. You will amazed at how they respond and better yet other people will not be able to play with their mind. That’s extremely important, as the world is filled with armchair quarterbacks and amateur coaches waiting for an opening to fill your athlete’s head with crap!

I am NOT going to lie and tell you you will feel good when you train under AAS! Most of the time you will initially feel tired and sore, but that’s where the mental toughness comes in. I don’t know any successful athlete who is not mentally tough. To be clear – if you are laughing and joking everyday during training, guess what – you are NOT training hard enough. Plain and simple.

A simple graph of the results experienced following AAS looks like this:


Some days in the gym are going to be better than others. No one can be at their best every day, or even every week, and no one makes progress in a linear, purely upward manner. There are ups and downs and significant plateaus in everyone’s training progress where you just have to keep banging away on a consistent basis.

Then one day – boom – you hit a new level of performance and never look back. But you have to be consistent despite the hard days and the periods of limited progress to reach an advanced level of adaptation and performance.

The only question is whether you have the commitment and mental toughness to persevere and do what you need to do. Do you?