Basketball Speed and Agility – 9 Questions For An Expert Trainer
I had a chance to interview Rich Stoner of Elite Basketball Training. Rich is known as one of the best basketball trainers in New Jersey and is highly respected by trainers all over the nation. I personally rely on Rich for solid advice on topics ranging from basketball nutrition to basketball strength training. I most admire his expertise on basketball speed and agility issues.
BasketballTrainer.com (BT): How exactly did you craft your expertise on the topic of basketball speed and agility?
Rich Stoner (RS):I have always been highly involved in creating the sports performance programs for any basketball team that I have coached both as an assistant or as a head coach. This prompted me to get my USAW Sports Performance Coach certification early on in my career. From there on I have consistently analyzed the game of basketball watching how players move on the basketball court in order to come up with the best ways to improve those movements along with their skills. Speed and agility rank near the top in terms of the factors that lead to an athlete’s success on the court and therefore have become a focal point of our training at Elite Basketball Training.
BT: It seems like football dominates the speed and agility scene and basketball is an afterthought. What are the differences and why is it important to stay basketball focused?
RS: Regarding speed and agility, basketball differs from football and is unique in the sense that there are more constant changes of direction and changes of movement. Basketball also requires players to make changes of speed and direction while dribbling a basketball and this is something that is foreign to football. Basketball is a stop and go kind of game and it is far from linear. Whether on defense or offense, with or without the basketball the game requires players to cut off angles or take advantage of angles. To do so effectively requires a player to be not only quick but also agile (change directions effectively) and to possess the basketball skills and footwork to operate in this manner efficiently.
BT: What is the number 1 reason people don’t start a speed and agility program?
RS: It is an afterthought, not a priority. Players seem to focus more on game play first, then skill development, and then if they have some time, they will incorporate sports performance training, which includes speed and agility work. This is a terrible way to look and the basketball training spectrum. Basketball training should include predominantly, skill development and sports performance training and lastly game play. To improve your ability on the court, you need a ton of repetitions and these are repetitions that you just cannot get when playing games.
BT: Having run plyometric programs before myself, it seems like kids need a small group to perform best. Do you see similar issues in speed and agility work, and if so, why do you think this is the case?
RS: Smaller group training is definitely the best case scenario. It allows a coach to really break down the movements for each individual and explain how that particular player can be better. However, over time, once players have learned these movement patterns and the correct way to execute them, a large group with an extra trainer or two would work just fine.
BT: What are the biggest obstacles to achieving success in a basketball speed and agility program?
RS: Misinformation and time. Players and parents are being inundated nowadays with information that pushes them in the direction of playing more basketball games. So they end up signing up to play for two or more teams. This severely limits their time to train and develop their skills and athleticism. I cannot count the amount of times that parents have told me that, “They don’t have the time for sports performance training.” Yet, these will be the same parents that come back to me after a long AAU season of doing nothing but play games and tell me that their son or daughter has not improved at all and, in fact, has gotten worse. Basketball skill development and performance training should make up the bulk of your basketball training regimen, and that requires cutting back on the number of teams you play for in order to open up more time to train for things like speed and agility.
BT: What age should players begin this type of training?
RS: I’ve worked with players as young as seven. As long as the program is well designed which includes it begin physically appropriate for the age and ability of each player they will most certainly see the benefits.
BT: How does rest factor in to the training schedule with this focus?
RS: Rest is an interesting component to speed and agility training. There is a lot of this type of training that requires max effort so optimal rest between sets is ideal. However, the game of basketball is not played that way and your rest time can and usually is limited by the clock and the whistle. With this in mind, it is best to train some drills for max effort in order to develop components like starting speed but it is a must that you train other drills with limited rest time in order to better simulate actual game play.
BT: What questions should I be asking you that I have not?
RS: What role does strength training play in the development of speed and agility?
Our strength programs are designed to develop, among other things, strength and power. Increased strength and power with allow the athlete to exert more force on to the ground and explode off of it. Simply stated, the more force an athlete can apply on the ground, the quicker they will be. Furthermore, the extensive core work that we do in our training will ensure that our players bodies have the ability to work from the core to the extremities. This will help them remain stable and balanced when changing directions and changing movements on the court.
BT: What can people expect to get from your program you devised?
RS: They can expect a more efficient way of looking at training speed and agility for basketball. As I mentioned earlier, time is one of the deciding factors in a player not committing to a speed and agility program. My program not only shows players the drills to use to develop their speed, agility, and quickness but also incorporates skill development into these same drills. You will be killing two birds with one stone. Not having time can no longer be an excuse. My program will save time and allow you to improve your speed and agility with and without the basketball.
BT: Rich- thanks for making the time to answer some of our questions, we hope to have you back soon. I am going to share your course and also some of your contact info in this space.
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