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Friday, July 19, 2019

Coaches’ Corner: Rest and Recovery—Making the Most of Your “Get Away” (Part I)

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Caption: Neither the hamster wheel nor the “couch potato” technique are the proper approaches to strength and conditioning through rest and recovery, says Loyola - Maryland’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Robert Taylor.

Credit: Images Courtesy IStockPhoto.com©

By Robert Taylor

Editor’s Note: Full Court Press/Full Court Prep is pleased to present the second in our series of “Coaches’ Corner” columns by distinguished high school and collegiate coaches and trainers who have graciously agreed to share their tips on strength and conditioning and basketball fundamentals and strategy.

Over the summer, the column is being devoted to strength and conditioning, an important element of a basketball player’s training program for many years. Full Court Press writer Sue Favor, a strength and conditioning coach herself, is canvassing strength and conditioning coaches from colleges all over the country to bring their best tips for success to our readers for this twice-monthly column. With the rise in skill level and physical play in the girls’ and women’s game, off-court preparation plays an even more critical role in an athlete’s success. In addition to improve the player’s overall ability to execute, proper strength and condition is crucial to the prevention of injuries and to prompt recovery when they do occur. Rarely does a week pass, in these pages or elsewhere, without news of injuries to top-quality players.

Do you want to become a faster, more explosive, more powerful player (or do you want the teams you coach to develop those attributes)? How often have you looked at a team or player and seen tired athletes? How often have you seen the fire in an athlete’s eyes change and asked why? At what point did you notice that maybe you
have pushed the player/team—or yourself—a bit too far, and now you (or they) need a rest? Did you ask yourself what you should do to get both physically and mentally back, ready to practice and compete?

Today’s column features Robert Taylor, Jr., Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Loyola College - Maryland’s Athletic Department since 2003. Coach Taylor’s is certified through so many national and international organization that his resume reads like a veritable alphabet soup: SCCC, CSCS*D, CCS, PES, CES, CSES, NSCA-CPT*D, NSPA-CPT. He is a Strength and Conditioning Certified Coach through the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.  He has also been recertified, with distinction, for both the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  In 2009, Taylor was finalist for the NSCA College Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year award.  He is also recognized by the National Strength Professionals Association as a Certified Conditioning Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer.  Taylor is also the Maryland/DC State Director for the National Association of Speed and Explosion and is a Certified Speed and Explosion Specialist.  Taylor has also earned the Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist credentials through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  Currently, he is preparing for the Certified Sports Nutritionist certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

All of these certifications combine to tell you that this is a man who really knows his stuff! A graduate of Lock Haven University, where he was a three-year starter for the baseball team, Coach Taylor has also worked with professional organizations such as the Anaheim Angels, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Mutiny, and San Antonio Silver Stars.  He is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training (STT), an organization he developed to focus on athlete and team development, performance, and education.

Before his tenure at Loyola, Coach Taylor was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at UNC Greensboro.  He left to pursue a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Delaware, while working as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. Coach Taylor has also worked with athletic departments at Cincinnati, Princeton, and Villanova.  At each of these institutions he has helped numerous athletes reach their dream of becoming professional athletes. He was also a strength and conditioning consultant for athletes on the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup Champion’s Team Australia in 2005, and was the Head Strength Coach for Team Australia’s 2009 World Cup team which played in the world championship game as well.

Coach Taylor’s athletes have gone on to be drafted by the NFL, MLB, NBA, MLS, MLL, and NLL. Among the many national conferences where he has been invited to present his work was the the North Carolina State University Basketball Specific Strength and Conditioning Symposium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Today (and tomorrow—Coach Taylor’s articles were so rich in details and photographs to help our readers implement the exercises he discusses that we had to spread them over two articles), Coach Taylor shares tips with our readers on how they can use their period of rest and recovery over the summer to enhance their overall strength and conditioning.

American sports have become a 365-day-a-year, seven-day-a-week activity, often involving two games and a practice
on each day of a weekend. Do we even think to question why more and more children and teenagers are not participating in athletics? When the concept of sports and athletics were born, weren’t they supposed to bring people together and embrace competition at all levels and ages? Those who competed were successful in many athletic endeavors. Did they train two times a day seven days a week? Fifty-two weeks leading up to a competition? Did they ever just “get away”?

I have had more and more questions about “What do you do for rest-and-recovery?” The sport of basketball, in particular, has taken what could possibly be the easiest part of training when given some guidelines and completely ignored the beneficial characteristics of just getting away from the game so the body and mind can relax, heal, and allow for appropriate rest and recovery techniques to be taught as well as learned.

The concept of “if some is good, more must be better” has been so deeply ingrained in our heads that taking time off is too often seen as a potential indicator of weakness or limited work ethic. Being a gym rat is often a compliment that some athletes strive for. But if we are to take a look at injuries, how hard athletes practice, play, and are involved mentally in the game, could we possibly be missing the key component that could help a player or team reach the next level?

How many coaches actually sit down and lay out a calendar so that everyone involved with the team understands when and why there are “hard stretches”? How often does this same coach put on the calendar, “GET AWAY. You deserve it!” I’d bet the latter is close to never with the number of rec leagues, AAU games, middle and high school practices and games, never mind the number of camps and showcases. On the men’s side of the game, even at the elite level there is time scheduled to focus on rest and recovery from the daily grind of this sport. But many of our premiere women’s players, driven by the economics of the sport, find themselves playing year-round.

Coaches are always seeking more practice time and control of their players when they are not on the court. Allowing your athletes an opportunity to have a scheduled day off, week off, or (should I step out on a limb and say it) an entire month off, will result in a tremendous response if you justify what needs to be accomplished during this period of time.

Late summer—the time historically set aside for rest and recovery at the high school and collegiate level—is probably the most important part of the year if you are looking to take the next step with your game. But that doesn’t mean taking the summer off to become a couch potato! How you use that rest and recovery time is just as important as taking it in the first place.

So many people look at a “rest and recovery period” as an excuse to sit in front of the television, sleep in, eat chips, milkshakes, wings, and let everything they have worked for or are working toward slip away because they have a “free pass from coach.” This is a misconception that needs to be looked at more closely.

If the athlete needs time to “veg out” and sit in front of the television, let’s give them a flexibility program or a myofascial release program to use while they are getting their fill of the tube or sunshine. These simple programs tend to increase the resting length of muscles, restore normal range of movement, encourage proper blood flow and permit increase of power with strengthening exercises. By designing programs that require minimal equipment and take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete you should be able to help relax the state of mind and body.

If the athlete needs their favorite dessert or late-night pizza to feel like they are on “vacation,” then focus on teaching the athlete about proper sports nutrition principles. Bringing fruits and vegetables with refreshing cold water with you while relaxing in a hammock at the beach could be the key to your scoring average going up next year. Maybe your defensive tenacity increases even to the point that scouts take a notice and ask, “What was your secret?” Imagine saying, “Well, I did what coach told me to do and just got away.”

The following programs have been designed to help you with your “get away” time. You should be in a relaxed state of mind at all times when participating in the following programs. Clear your head and warm up your body by going for a jog or jumping rope before you begin. It is important to elevate the body’s core temperature before a workout, training, or even stretching session.

To complete all of these programs you will need simple pieces of equipment—a rope or stretch band, a foam roller, and potentially a partner. With these easy-to-be-found tools of the trade, you will be able to utilize numerous flexibility techniques such as static stretching, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching, and myofascial release.

Static stretching involves holding a stretched position that passively places the muscles and connective tissues at their greatest possible length without pain or slight discomfort at most for about 15 to 30 seconds per stretch. It is the most commonly used flexibility technique.

While using a stretch band or piece of rope, perform the exercises below to help develop a greater range of motion in the muscles that are at greatest risk of injury. Take your time and hold each position for up to 30 seconds. If you are using a stretch band, lightly flex the muscle being stretched, then relax, and re-stretch past the original stopping point.

Be aware not to over-stretch the muscle. Realize there may be a slight discomfort noticed, but there should not be pain. If pain is noticed, reduce the intensity of the stretch and/or consult a member of your sports medicine team to eliminate the chance of any underlying injuries.

Quad Stretch

As shown below, begin stretch on side, balance on elbow or hand with band wrapped around foot. Slowly pull band over head.
Quad Stretch

Intermediate Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch

To place greater emphasis on the area being stretched, roll onto stomach as shown below, and use both hands to pull both knee and hip off ground. Remember to keep belly button pushed into floor to eliminate rolling hips.

Advanced Hip Flexor Quad StretchAdvanced Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch
For the advanced athlete, start in a lunge position with band wrapped around foot. While slowly leaning hips into stretch, apply light tension on band as shown at left.

Standing Hamstring and Calf StretchStanding Hamstring Calf Stretch
As shown at right, wrap band around foot. While maintaining a rigid front knee, pull slowly up on toe and bend at waist. Maintaining a neutral spine is key. Bend back knee to enhance stretch.

SeatedSeated Hamstring and Calf Stretch
In a seated position as shown at left, maintain a neutral spine and lean forward walking hands down band towards foot. Pull toes back and slowly lift foot off ground to stretch calf muscles as shown in picture below.
Seated Hamstring and Calf Stretch - View 2

Posterior Tibialis StretchPosterial Tibialis Stretch
As shown at right, in a seated position with band looped around trunk of body and wrapped around foot with heel slightly off the ground, pull outside band allowing foot to evert and stretch the muscles on the medial side of the ankle joint.

PeronealsPeroneals Stretch
As shown at left, in a seated position with band looped around trunk of body and wrapped around foot with heel slightly off the ground, pull inside band allowing foot to invert and stretch the muscles on the lateral side of the ankle joint.

Roll-Back and Glute Stretch

As shown at right, roll onto back and pull foot to opposite shoulder. Use free hand to push bent knee away from body. Relax straight leg and allow hip rotation of leg being stretched.Roll Back and Glute Stretch

Advanced Figure-Four StretchAdvanced Figure-Four Stretch
Orient legs as shown in picture at left, and pull slowly on band. Knee of banded foot should be pulled straight toward chest enhancing hip rotation on opposite leg.

Hamstring Stretch

As shown at right, roll onto back with hip at 90 degrees and tension on the band. While maintaining a straight leg, drive heel to ground and resume start position in a controlled manner. Pump five times, then try to pull foot closer to head than initial start position. Repeat three times.Hamstring Stretch

Intermediate Groin StretchIntermediate Groin Stretch
Allow leg to swing out to side of body while keeping both shoulders on ground as shown on left. Heel should remain 3-4 inches off ground and tension should be pulling toes up.

IT Band and Glute Stretch
As shown below, allow leg to swing across body while attempting to keep both shoulders on the ground. Heel should remain 5-8 inches off ground and tension should be pulling toes up.
IT Band and Glute Stretch

Seated Butterfly StretchSeated Butterfly Stretch
Wrap band over bent knee, around back, and over opposite bent knee as shown in picture on right. Place hands on knees and while pressing knees towards floor, relax groin and allow stretch of adductor muscles.

Advanced Butterfly StretchAdvanced Butterfly Stretch
From Seated Butterfly Stretch, grab low on the shin or ankle and roll onto back. Using elbows to push knees away and pulling heels towards midline of the body.

Low Back Stretch - View 1Low Back Stretch
Begin this stretch with feet on floor with your back arched as shown at right on top.
Exhale and push low back to floor, shown at right on bottom, and then back to arched position.Low Back Stretch - View 2

That’s it for our stretch band program, today. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at a myofascial relaxation program you can perform alone with a simple foam roller, some routines you can use if you have a partner available, and some sound principles of nutrition for your “R&R” time.

Photo Credit: All photos courtesy of SMARTERTeamTraining, LLC. ©2009. All Rights Reserved.

Originally published Thu, August 27, 2009

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.