"I don't believe in that superstitious stuff. I believe in hard work and preparation. I'm going to go out there and prove that to people who might have predicted [a sophomore slump]." - Brandon Roy
Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Brandon Roy has lived his entire life by one motto: Stay hungry and humble. "I've applied those two things to everything I've done," he says, "and they continue to keep me moving forward in life."
Winning the 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year Award hasn't weakened Brandon's hunger at all, because he knows it's implications. "If you look at the players who have won that award, it speaks for itself," says the 6'6" former Washington Huskie. "Now that I'm in the same class as guys like Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan, I have to do my best to win a championship."
Despite winning the award and his rookie line of nearly 17 points, four boards and four dishes per game, NBA pundits and fans were still predicting a sophomore slump, ascribing Brandon's stats to beginner's luck.
So far this year, though, Brandon has backed up his All-Star status by tallying nearly 20 points per contest. Undisputedly, he's one of the best guards in the NBA.
And while he loves dealing helpers that get the crowd on its feet, Brandon knows what makes him most dangerous: "My biggest weapon," he says, "is my size. I can handle the ball and break my guy down off the dribble, [and] I can still shoot pretty well."
Hungry as ever, Brandon spent the months leading up to this season attacking two main goals: becoming more explosive and getting lean. "I looked back at how I played my rookie season and saw some weaknesses in my game," he says. "I wanted to increase my explosiveness and maybe lose a little weight so I could be stronger throughout 82 games."
To accomplish these tasks, Brandon joined up with SPARQ Trainer Travelle Gaines. After a full summer of jumping, twisting and squatting through different Gaines-inspired exercises and drills, Brandon entered the Blazers training camp ready to test his progress. "Within two to three weeks, my teammates were telling me that I looked a lot leaner, faster and much quicker," Brandon says. "It was obvious right away."
Gaines noticed the results, too. "Physically, he looks much more mature," he says. "He's more ripped and well-defined. He says he feels a lot faster, and he appears to be much quicker. As a basketball player, he needs that great explosiveness, change of direction, acceleration and, more important, first-step quickness."
Gaines attributes Brandon's amped physical performance to his internal qualities. "He challenged me every single time we worked out," Gaines recalls. "He always wanted more, so it was always a challenge for me to see how far I could take him and a challenge for him to see how far he would let me take him. He is a total professional; his whole life revolves around being a better basketball player."
With a willing client, Gaines could apply his philosophy to the fullest. "I like to cater to what the athlete needs to accomplish," he says. "There can be no cookie-cutter approach to this."
Catering to Brandon's desire to be more explosive and leaner, Gaines developed a workout that combines plyometric, explosive, core and flexibility training in a routine that is guaranteed to stop a predicted slump in its tracks (watch a video of Brandon Roy's explosive training).
• At baseline, assume defensive stance with resistance bands around ankles
• Perform defensive shuffle to mid-court and back
Coaching Points: Sit your butt back and keep your chest up with your feet facing straight ahead. Begin first set at half speed; second set increases to three-quarter speed, then remaining sets at full speed.
Gaines: This mimics playing defense in a basketball game. It strengthens the hip flexors and improves lateral movement.
Sets/Distance: 4x15 yards
Resistance Band Walking Lunge With Med Ball Rotation
• Standing with resistance bands around ankles, hold med ball
• Step forward with left foot and lower into lunge position
• Hold position, then rotate upper body to left, with ball
• Bring right foot forward, so it's even with left foot
• Perform to right side
• Repeat in continuous fashion for specified distance
Coaching Points: Bring foot over opposite calf every time you step into the lunge. Keep chest up and shoulders back. Follow the med ball with your eyes during each rotation.
Gaines: This works hip flexibility and the oblique muscles, because you have to squeeze your core while rotating. Basketball is such a grappling sport that you're always swiping at people or grabbing rebounds, so you have to be strong through your obliques. The bands add extra resistance for more hip and overall leg strength. The more hip flexibility and mobility you have, the more explosive you can be.
Sets/Distance: 4x10 yards
• Assume split-squat position with resistance bands around ankles
• Lower slightly, then jump straight up for maximum height
• Switch position of legs in air, landing in split-squat position with opposite foot forward
• Continue for specified reps
Coaching Points: Feet should be walking-step-distance apart in split-squat position. Keep your knee behind your toes, chest up and shoulders back.
Gaines: Again, this works explosiveness, but from a different position. Sometimes we like to do this after a slow squat movement since it's much quicker.
Sets/Distance: 3x10 yards
• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells on top of shoulders
• Sit back, then lower into squat
• Explode up out of squat onto balls of feet while pressing dumbbells overhead
• Repeat for specified reps
Coaching Points: Keep weight on heels, with chest up and shoulders back. Lower with control.
Gaines: This works the lower body and mimics the explosive movements you make on the basketball court going up for a jump shot or to grab a rebound.
Sets/Distance: 3x10 yards
• Assume Clean position with dumbbells out to sides, at shin level
• Explode through hips, knees and ankles while shrugging with straight arms
• Drive elbows toward ceiling to bring dumbbells to armpits
Coaching Points: Keep your chest up, shoulders back and weight on your heels in the starting position. Lower dumbbells slowly for an eccentric effect.
Gaines: This is a total body, triple-extension exercise every athlete needs. It really builds explosiveness.
• Assume athletic stance holding dumbbells at sides, about an arm's length away from plyo box
• Lower into quarter-squat; then explode through hips, knees and ankles to jump for maximum height
• Land softly with bent knees on top of plyo box
• Step down slowly; repeat for specified reps
Coaching Points: Perform first set with no weight, then gradually increase weight with each set.
Gaines: When we work with athletes of Brandon Roy's caliber, a 42-inch plyo box just isn't enough for them. So we started to add weight. Brandon got to a point where he could jump onto a 36-inch box holding 60-pound dumbbells. He starts with no weight and then works up-15, 25, 40, then 55 or 60.
Sets/Distance: 5x5 yards
• Assume sit-up position with partner in front of you
• Catch med ball from partner overhead and perform sit-up
• Throw ball back to partner on way up
• Repeat for specified reps
Coaching Points: Use a 15- to 20-pound med ball, and throw ball back to partner halfway through your sit-up.
Gaines: This develops total core strength and works your transverse abdominal muscles. The stronger you get those, the more you can work in an upright position and stay upright.
• With partner to left, sit on ground with knees bent and heels just off ground
• Receive ball from partner, rotate right, touch med ball to ground, then throw ball back
• Repeat for specified reps; perform set on other side
Coaching Points: Sit back until your abs are engaged to support your body. Follow the med ball with your eyes, and keep your feet an inch off the ground. Use a 15- to 20-pound med ball.
Gaines: This strengthens the core-mostly your oblique muscles.
Sets/Distance: 2x25 each side
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