In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Phoenix Suns Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Cory Schlesinger joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss evidence based strength and conditioning ideas for basketball.
Schlesinger is finishing his first season in the NBA working as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Phoenix Suns.
Prior to the league, he was the Director of Basketball Performance at Stanford University. In his time on The Farm, he has revolutionized in-season strength training for collegiate student-athletes, with a method that is now internationally recognized. He has been a chosen presenter on both the national and international stage, sharing his philosophy in strength training to other experts and colleagues in the field. He is continuously sharing his knowledge and experience on multiple platforms, including podcasts, satellite radio and several public speaking engagements.
Prior to joining the staff at Stanford, Schlesinger spent three years as the Assistant Director of Sports Enhancement at UAB, where he worked with head coach Jerod Haase and oversaw the men’s basketball program’s strength and conditioning needs.
He owns a decade of experience as a strength and conditioning coach, having also spent three seasons at Santa Clara. During his time with the Broncos, Schlesinger worked directly with the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
Schlesinger also has experience as a coach at the Olympic Training Center and as a sports nutritionist for Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes.
He is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a United States Weightlifting coach.
A native of Hillsville, Virginia, Schlesinger earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education with a concentration in exercise science and sports medicine in 2009 at Berea College in Kentucky. During his time at Berea College, Schlesinger was the point guard for the Mountaineers all four seasons.
“What a strength coach should do for you is they should be a quality control manager . . they have to create a robustness or durability in all these athletes so that they can withstand the stresses that are placed upon them via the sport.”
“Work doesn’t equate to success; specific work equates to success.”
“Running at high velocity, sprinting and jumping makes the body stronger. We don’t need to keep creating it in other aspects; but is we dose it right I think we’re going to have a better product.”
“You have traditional drills that you can literally turn your mind off and knock out . . the higher up the ladder you go, the less you need that type of stuff. What you need are things that are stimulating. You need to engage the athlete from the neck up just as much as your engaging them from the neck down.”
“In skill, start off slow, start off in a small amount of space . . and then speed, speed, speed, speed and then keep challenging skill through the duration. And then . . you’re going to have quality over time.”
“I think our goal is to have high precision at high forces under control, where they’re in a state to make the right decision at high speeds.”
“As strength coaches, our whole job is tot create such a robust athlete that they can handle whatever’s thrown at them.”
“I’m trying to solidify their foundation with the new skill. And then I build up the robustness of their system, their tissues, their cardiovascular system by taking already existing skill and shortening the work-to-rest ratio.”
“My favorite day to excite the nervous system is game day. And so, in the college setting, we would lift on game day; we would do very, very fast work in the weight room on game day because that is stimulating the central nervous system to be fast.”
“Depending on who you are as a player . . will determine how much time you spend on general preparation, how much time you spend on specific preparation and how much time you will spend on actual basketball.”
“Integration is everything. If we operate in silos, then there’s a lack of communication, there’s a lack of understanding. And then, ultimately, there’s a lack of execution so everyone loses.”
“What’s the right way to close out? . . The short answer is what do your best athletes do? Because they’ve already figured it out. I don’t care what we’re coaching. Your best athletes self-organize and displace forces way better than you can teach it.”
“When an athlete can discover [something] himself, that is true learning. You put them in an environment to figure it out. Once you find success, you applaud the success and find the reasons why they’re successful, not pick apart why they’re not successful.”
“The athletes have the answers because it is intrinsically in their own self. What we do is we foster an environment to let them discover better answers and, based off our experience and knowledge, that will allow us to help them get to those answers faster.”
“At the end of the day, the head coach is always right. Period. My only job is to make him more right . . Your strength coach, what ever your vision is, he helps make that better.”
“Everything that I do with that [creativity] is because I have a problem. . . I’m trying to be a solution specialist.”
“Blocked [practice] is good if you’re learning a new skill. But after that, and after there’s a certain level of mastery, you’ve got to mix and you’ve got to add stressors or add additional stimuli to push the motor learning, to push the variability.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Why a Strength Coach
4:00 – Perception Action Coupling
6:00 – In Season
13:00 – Mindlessness
15:00 – Aerobic and Anaerobic Training
18:00 – Toughness through Physical Conditioning
21:00 – Recovery
25:00 – Tapering
27:00 – CNS Stimulation
32:00 – Slow Learning Reps
36:00 – Specificity
39:00 – Importance of Integration
43:00 – Closeouts
48:00 – Planning
50:00 – Upright Defensive Stance
55:00 – Sports Science
57:00 – Creativity
1:00:00 – Micro Dosing
1:06:00 – Block Practice versus Random Practice
1:11:00 – Conclusion
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