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Juniata Strength Clinic 2017 Highlights

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

2017 Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic

Last week, I attended the 2017 Juniata College Strength and Conditioning Clinic. Of all the years I’ve attended, and I’ve been to I think ALL but 2 since it first took place in 2000, this was one of the best, in my opinion!

Today, I went through y notes and compiled a list of all my biggest take-aways from the clinic, and shot a video covering them all.

2017 Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic
Part 1

2017 Juniata Strength and Conditioning Clinic
Part 1

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topics I cover, and of course let me know if you have any questions.

I hope you enjoy it.

All the best in your training,


Coaches: This Program Will Help You
Reduce ACL Tears and Other Knee Injuries: Deceleration Training

Ankle Mobility – Is it REALLY That Important?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

There’s lots of reasons I respect Eric Cressey as a strength coach.

First and foremost is the fact that he is STRONG. Guy deadlifts over 600-lbs, despite the fact that he’s not a genetic freak or anywhere near 300lbs. RESPECT.

But the biggest reason is his ability to see deeper, and analyze possible solutions to problems, ASIDE FROM what everyone else sees.

I don’t like to bag on the Fitness Industry. I think that happens far too often.

The problem is not the industry itself, but rather, the bad apples spread throughout it that tend to spoil the proverbial bunch.

Every so often, a new buzz word or catch phrase comes out, and you can just see the Johnny-come-lately’s ready to to swoop in, pick up on the new terms, and use them like they thought of them.

In the video below, Eric Cressey touches on one of these such buzz words, “Ankle Mobility.”

He’s a bit more diplomatic than me in the way he covers this topic, as you’ll see when you watch the video, and he may even make you question your previosu thoughts about ankle mobility and how it influences movement patterns, such as the Squat.

Like Eric points out, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

This attention to detail is why I trust him so much.

This week, Cressey has dropped the price on one of his most popular products, the High Performance Handbook, by $50.


So for the next few days you can add this to your library at a much lower investment.

Eric Cressey is one of the best strength coaches in the world. If you’re a budding strength coach and you’re looking for someone to follow, Eric is the man, and High Performance Handbook is a great place to start.

Get it today. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

All the best,


The High Performance Handbook Right Now $50 Off

Preventing ACL Tears

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012


How to Prevent ACL Tears


If you are on my email newsletter then the chances are you have already heard about the product I released this week with my friend, Jerry Shreck, called Deceleration Training to Prevent ACL Tears. I used to know very little about the ACL, until last summer when I roomed with Jerry at a Strength Clinic I attended. I quickly came to realize that Jerry was like the Shaolin Master of ACL Prevention.

I have learned a tremendous amount of information from Jerry, and I thought I would share some of that info with all of you, because some of this stuff is pretty eye-opening.

What is the ACL?

First off, the ACL is a ligament in your knee that helps give your knee stability. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It literally crosses from your upper leg bone, the femur, down to the larger lower leg bone, the tibia, thus the name cruciate, meaning “to cross.”

Why Does the ACL Tear?

It turns out that one of the reasons that the ACL Tears has to do with the lower leg translating forward of the upper leg. Twisting of course does not help matters either. But the root cause has to do with positioning of the lower leg.

What Types of ACL Tears are There?

There are actually two main types of ACL Tears: Contact ACL Tears and Non-Contact ACL Tears. Let’s define these and go into a bit more detail on them.

Contact ACL Tears: In this case the athlete is hit by some sort of outside force. A very violent example is when a football player or soccer player gets tackled or hit by another player and the force results in the ACL injury. You’ve seen old footage of chop blocks in the NFL – that would be a prime example of how a Contact ACL Tear can take place. Less intentional examples are out there too, of course. For instance, if there is a pile-up when going for a fumble in football, a loose ball in basketball, or if there is brawl on the baseball field, it is always a risk that one player is going to fall on or roll onto the knee of another player’s knee and possibly do some serious damage to the ACL.

The thing that sucks about Contact ACL Tears is that you really have no control over the situation. Since pile-ups, aggressive play, and accidental falls are just part of the game when it comes to many different sports, you never know when someone might experience and ACL injury. Those are the kinds of things that are best not worried about, and just hope that it doesn’t happen.

However, Non-Contact ACL Tears are different…

Non-Contact ACL Tears: In these cases, a player is simply moving about the field or court during regular play, and the positioning or movement that takes place causes the injury. One second everything is going well and then out of nowhere the player is on the ground, holding their knee, cringing in pain because the ACL Tore.

Causes of ACL Tears

Often, what happens is one of several things:

1. Slowing Down: The athlete was sprinting and then has to slow down to a halt very quickly. This change in speed brings about the ACL Tear.

2. Landing: The athlete jumped or bounded and when they landed the forces of deceleration are too much for the knee to handle and the ACL takes the loading and pops.

3. Cutting / Angling: The athlete is moving quickly down the field of play and makes an offensive maneuver to get around another player and during the cutting motion the ACL fails and the tear takes place.

4. Changing Directions: The athlete stops and must change directions completely and in doing so the momentum is too much for the knee to handle and again, the ACL fails under the loading.

These are just four examples, but Jerry says he has seen all of these things take place over the years. And every single time there is a tear, the athlete usually misses the rest of the season, and in some cases their athletic career is very negatively affected and sometimes even brought to an end.

ACL injuries are not things that take place only at the University level where Jerry works. I’ve seen footage of baseball players who, in a rage to argue with an umpire, have tried to make a power move around their coach and in doing so have severely injured their knee.

This scenario is altogether too common in Girls’ Youth Soccer. The kids are moving up and down the field having a great time, when all of a sudden one of them goes to make a move and they fall down in a heap. Your heart sinks as they roll on their back clenching their knee to their chest.

You really have to wonder how many scholarships have been lost over the years due to injuries like this. Again, you don’t have to get a 300-lb Lineman dropped on your knee for these things to happen – they can take place at very innocent spots in games, even when doing things you have done hundreds or even thousands of times before.

Factors That Contribute to ACL Tears

Gender Descriminating Risk Factor: Unfortunately, in some ways, nature has set things up so that certain players are more at risk than others for an ACL Tear. Females, for instance, have a wider hip-to-knee angle than males. Because their hips are wider, it creates a different angle from their hip down to their knee which can lend a higher chance for an ACL to tear.

Quad Dominance: Many athletes are Quad Dominant when it comes to decelerating their bodies. If you look at the 4 main scenarios described above (slowing down, cutting, landing, changing directions), all of them have to do with deceleration. If an athlete is accustomed to achieving deceleration by engaging predominantly the Quadriceps musculature, they run an increased risk for an ACL Tear. The reason has to do with the fact that the Quads are pulling on the lower leg bone, the tibia, and contibuting to that forward translation of the lower leg, and putting more strain on the ACL itself.

Weak Gluteals: The Glutes are the most powerful muscles in the body. Although they are usually thought of as muscles that will provide the power for athletic movements like leaping and sprinting, they are often forgotten when it comes to deceleration. This is a serious problem, because if an athlete is not using their Glutes, they will more than likely HAVE to use their Quads to decelerate, which we’ve already established is a bad practice.

Tight Hip Flexors: Incidentally, another contributing factor to weak glutes is tight hip flexors. You see, in many cases, when a muscle or muscle group on one side of the body is overly tight, often, the muscle groups on the opposite side of the body suffer. This happens to the upper back muscles when the chest and torso are too tight, and it happens to the gluteals when the hip flexors are too tight. And what is one of the main causes of tight hip flexors? Inordinate amounts of time in a seated position. Many student athletes spend all day seated in class, seated on the bus or in the car, and often, once practice or games are done, they can be found seated watching TV or surfing the internet. All of this contributes to tight hip flexors, weak and inactive glutes, and poor deceleration mechanics which stresses out the ACL, potentially causing a tear.

How to Prevent ACL Tears

So, the question is, how do we prevent the ACL Tear from taking place? This question brings us back to the program Jerry has been using at his University for the last several years.

Once Jerry gets the incoming Freshman into a schedule, he immediately starts running them through his program. His program immediately targets the glutes, gets them to wake up from years of dis-use, a summer spent detraining, and begins corrective action with his specific drills.

Just like any scientist, he first establishes a baseline with each athlete. He does this by assessing their deceleration abilities. He does this with an exercise you have probably heard of, called a Box Jump.

Now, when most people think of Box Jumps, they usually think of one of two things. One is Plyo-Box Training and trying to jump on top of or over the highest box possible.

The other is the Crossfit Box Hop activity where they jump up and down on top of a box for a set number of reps as fast as they can.

These are not the types of Box Jumps that Jerry does with his athletes.

Instead, Jerry has a moderate height box that the athletes can reach without too much effort, because Jerry isn’t looking for Power or Jumping Mechanics, he’s looking at landing mechanics. The bottom line is if you can’t land on a box the right way, there is almost no chance in hell you can decelerate your body properly after jumping up into the air to spike a volleyball or when performing a powerful cross-over dribble on the basketball court.

Jerry’s program starts out with the Box Deceleration drill and progresses in a step-by-step manner to more demanding drills, all the while re-inforcing glute activation.

Then, after several weeks, the athlete has essentially transformed their deceleration mechanics so that they no longer are decelerating with their quads, and instead are doing so with the correct muscles.

Jerry says that many times his athletes are able to improve their power production on the courts as well, because their glutes are so much better conditioned once they go through the program, on top of having safer, stronger knees to work with.

It’s been a great learning experience for me, teaming up with Jerry on this project. I strongly suggest you pick up our program, Deceleration Training to Prevent ACL Tears, especially if you or a family member participates in a stop-and-go sport such as football, rugby, soccer, basketball, volleyball, or lacrosse. All of these sports see far too many ACL Tears each year and many of them, sadly, are preventable.

All the best in your training,


Why You’re Not Getting Stronger

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Around here, the kids are all back in school and they have the whole year ahead of them.

There’s tons of excitement as they look forward to the many possibilities and potential for the year.

I still remember my Senior year, when I said I was going to not play basketball (which I pretty much hated) and just concentrate on baseball.

I wanted to go into the school weight room three days a week and put on some serious muscle, because I was 6-feet tall and about 200-lbs, but thought for sure with hard work I could put on some muscle and show up for my Freshman Year in college looking like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

While I never ended up looking like Mark or Barry, I did end up putting on some muscle and planting the seeds that would grow into a life-long interest in weight training.

Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t realize some of the things these guys were doing and taking in order to get so freakish. I also didn’t realize that there was a difference between training for size and for training with strength. I just went in there and did what I read about in bodybuilding magazines and didn’t understand the importance of proper loading and rep schemes in order to get stronger. If finding a balance between muscle gains and improvements in strength levels is something that you struggle with, then today’s article is perfect for you.

Today’s post comes from Eric Cressey. Eric is probably best known for his work with professional baseball players at his facility in Connecticut, Cressey Performance, but he is also know for his work in the arena of fitness and especially the field of strength & conditioning. His knowledge blows me away and he is one of the few professionals in the field I subscribe to. Every article, video and product he puts out is GOLD. Possibly his most well-recognized work, Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look Feel and Move Better is on sale for this week only for $50 off the regular price.

Enjoy today’s post from this world class author, speaker coach, and lifter.

5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Stronger

By: Eric Cressey

Like most lifters, I gained a lot of size and strength in my first 1-2 years of training in spite of the moronic stuff that I did. Looking back, I was about as informed as a chimp with a barbell – but things somehow worked out nonetheless. That is, however, until I hit a big fat plateau where things didn’t budge.

Truthfully, “big fat plateau” doesn’t even begin to do my shortcomings justice. No exaggeration: I spent 14 months trying to go from a 225-pound bench to 230. Take a moment and laugh at my past futility (or about how similar it sounds to your own plight), and we’ll continue.

All set? Good – because self-deprecating writing was never one of my strengths. I have, however, become quite good at picking heavy stuff off the floor – to the tune of a personal-best 660-pound deadlift at a body weight of 188.

Eric Cressey, 660-lb Deadlift

My other numbers aren’t too shabby, either, but this article isn’t about me; it’s about why YOU aren’t necessarily getting strong as fast as you’d like. To that end, I’d like to take a look at a few mistakes people commonly make in the quest to gain strength. Sadly, I’ve made most of these myself at some point, so hopefully I can save you some frustration.

Mistake #1: Only doing what’s fun and not what you need.

As you could probably tell, deadlifting is a strength of mine – and I enjoy it. Squatting, on the other hand, never came naturally to me. I always squatted, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it took the back seat to pulling heavy.

Eventually, though, I smartened up and took care of the issue – by always putting squatting before deadlifting in all my lower-body training sessions (twice a week). I eventually wound up with a Powerlifting USA Top 100 Squat in my weight class.

More interestingly, though, in addition to me dramatically improving my squat, a funny thing happened: I actually started to enjoy squatting. Whoever said that you can’t teach an old dog (or deadlifter) new tricks didn’t have the real scoop.

Mistake #2: Not taking deload periods.

One phrase of which I’ve grown quite fond is “fatigue masks fitness.” As a little frame of reference, my best vertical jump is 37.3” – but on most days, I won’t give you anything over 34” or so. The reason is very simple: most of your training career is going to be spent in some degree of fatigue. How you manage that fatigue is what dictates your adaptation over the long- term.

On one hand, you want to impose enough fatigue to create supercompensation – so that you’ll adapt and come back at a higher level of fitness. On the other hand, you don’t want to impose so much fatigue that you dig yourself a hole you can’t get out of without a significant amount of time off.

Good programs implement strategic overreaching follows by periods of lighter training stress to allow for adaptation to occur. You can’t just go in and hit personal bests in every single training session.

Mistake #3: Not rotating movements.

It never ceases to amaze me when a guy claims that he just can’t seem to add to his bench press (or any lift, for that matter), and when you ask him what he’s done to work on it of late, and he tells you “bench press.” Specificity is important, but if you aren’t rotating exercises, you’re missing out on an incredibly valuable training stimulus: rotating exercises.

While there is certainly a place for extended periods of specificity (Smolov squat cycles, for instance), you can’t push this approach indefinitely. Rotating my heaviest movements was one of the most important lessons I learned along my journey. In addition to helping to create adaptation, you’re also expanding your “motor program” and avoiding overuse injuries via pattern overload.

I’m not saying that you should overhaul your entire program with each trip to the gym, but there should be some semi-regular fluctuation in exercise selection. The more experienced you get, the more often you’ll want to rotate your exercises (I do it weekly). Assistance exercises ecan be shuffled every four weeks, though.

Mistake #4: Inconsistency in training.

I tell our clients from all walks of life that the best strength and conditioning programs are ones that are sustainable. I’ll take a terrible program executed with consistency over a great program that’s only done sporadically. This is absolutely huge for professional athletes who need to maximize progress in the off-season; they just can’t afford to have unplanned breaks in training if they want to improve from year to year. However, it’s equally important for general fitness folks who don’t have an extensive training background to fall back on, unlike the professional athletes.

If a program isn’t conducive to your goals and lifestyle, then it isn’t a good program. That’s why I went out of my way to create 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week strength training options – plus five supplemental conditioning options and a host of exercise modifications – when I pulled Show and Go together; I wanted it to be a very versatile resource.

Likewise, I wanted it to be safe; a program isn’t good if it injures you and prevents you from exercising. Solid programs include targeted efforts to reduce the likelihood of injury via means like mobility warm-ups, supplemental stretching recommendations, specific progressions, fluctuations in training stress, and alternative exercises (“plan B”) in case you aren’t quite ready to execute “Plan A.”

For me personally, I attribute a lot of my progress to the fact that at one point, I actually went over eight years without missing a planned lift. It’s a bit extreme, I know, but there’s a lesson to be learned.

Mistake #5: Wrong rep schemes

Beginners can make strength gains on as little as 40% of their one-rep max. Past that initial period, the number moves to 70% – which is roughly a 12-rep max for most folks. Later, I’d say that the number creeps up to about 85% – which would be about a 5-rep max for an intermediate lifter. This last range is where you’ll find most people who head to the internet for strength training information.

What they don’t realize is that 85% isn’t going to get the job done for very long, either. My experience is that in advanced lifters, the fastest way to build strength is to perform singles at or above 90% of one-rep max with regularity. As long as exercises are rotated and deloading periods are included, this is a strategy that can be employed for an extended period of time. In fact, it was probably the single (no pun intended) most valuable discovery I made in my quest to get stronger.

I’m not saying that you should be attempting one-rep maxes each time you enter the gym, but I do think they’ll “just happen” if you employ this technique.

To take the guesswork out of all this and try some programming that considers all these crucial factors (and a whole lot more), check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look Feel and Move Better.

-Eric Cressey-

How to Increase Vertical Jump

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

What Do Most Explosive Athletes Have in Common?

Whether you play basketball, football or any other power sport, the vertical jump is the ultimate indication of overall body power, more specifically lower body power. Most power sports require short and explosive movements and this is exactly what the vertical jump is. Keep in mind that you cannot jump slowly, you have to be explosive! You see, the athletes that jump the highest usually run the fastest, are the most explosive and are usually the most athletic.

BIG Vertical Jumps!

What else do athletes with big vertical jumps have in common? I would bet money that they have a high level of relative body strength, a low body fat level and a high rate of force development.

Let’s Get Serious

How many fat and out of shape athletes do you know with a 40 inch vertical jump? Not many. Chances are if you do know any fat and out of shape athletes that have a big vertical jump, they probably have a very high rate of force development.

When it comes to improving your vertical jump, most beginners, especially in high school, will improve their vertical jump by simply increasing their maximal strength and relative body strength. These increases in strength come through mastering basic bodyweight exercises like push up variations, pull ups, hand walking and rope climbing to name a few.

Big barbell exercises like squats, deadlifts and heavy pressing will help improve maximal strength. Strengthening the posterior chain is also critical to improving your vertical jump. Exercises like deadlift variations, glute ham raises, box squats, kettlebell swings and upright sled drags will build a strong and powerful posterior chain.

Don’t underestimate the role that strength plays in improving the vertical jump. Strength is the foundation upon which speed, power, agility and all other athletic abilities are built. If you want to see a serious improvement in your vertical jump start moving some serious weight!

While beginners should focus on getting stronger, advanced athletes need to dig a bit deeper.

First off, the athlete needs to determine where they are on the absolute strength to absolute speed continuum. Here is a great video Eric Cressey did describing this continuum.

In a nutshell, if you are more explosive than you are strong, you need to focus on maximal strength, however if you are stronger than you are explosive, you need to focus on reactive training. In order to optimize your performance and to maximize your vertical jump you should fall in the middle of the absolute strength to absolute speed continuum.

While maximal strength is an important component of increasing your vertical jump, athletes who already have a solid foundation of maximal strength should focus on improving rate of force development. This is where reactive training comes in-various jumps, sprinting, and medicine ball throws. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the jumping aspect as that will have the most carry over to the vertical jump. Check out my top 10 jumping exercises below to help improve your vertical jump.

Vertical Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as high as you can
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Reset and repeat

Here is a great video by Joe DeFranco

Box Jump (onto Tires)

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as high as you can
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Weighted Box Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as high as you can
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Box Squat into Box Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and perform a box squat
  • Explosively jump out of the hole and onto the bigger box
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Static Box Squat into Box Jump

  • Start by sitting on a 12 inch box
  • Explosively jump out of the hole and onto the bigger box
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Squat Jump into Box Jump

  • Hold 10lb dumbbells at your side
  • Perform a squat jump
  • As you are landing release the dumbbells and jump onto the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Broad Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as far as you can
  • Land in an athletic position and without any rest immediately go into the next broad jump

Squat Jump into Broad Jump

  • Hold 10lb dumbbells at your side
  • Perform a squat jump
  • As you are landing release the dumbbells and jump as far as you can
  • Land in an athletic position and immediately go into your next broad jump

Heavy Sled Drags

  • Load a sled up with maximal weight
  • Lean forward and drive with your legs
  • Apply as much force to the ground as possible
  • Drag the sled for 10 yards
  • Rest to you are fully recovered and go again

Depth Jumps

  • Start by standing tall on a 12 inch box
  • Step off the 12 inch box and immediately perform a box jump
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Putting it All Together

There you have it, a list of my top 10 favorite jumping exercises to help improve your vertical jump.

This article wouldn’t be complete without me telling you how to implement jumps into your training. Start performing jumps on your lower body days directly after your warm up and right before your main exercise. This is important because it will prime your central nervous system for the workout and because your body is not yet fatigued.

Start with the most basic progression of a jump and progress each week or two to a harder variation. It may even take as long as 3 weeks before your athletes really start getting good at certain jumps.

Here is a sample progression I use with my athletes:

  • Week 1-Box Jump with a running start
  • Week 2-Box jump from a static position
  • Week 3-Box Squat into Box Jump
  • Week 4-Static Box Squat into Box Jump
  • Week 5-repeat week 2 with a higher box

You have a couple different options here. You can either progress each week to a harder exercise like the example above or you can pick one exercise and perform it week after week but alter the volume and intensity (see chart below). If you have the equipment for this option then go for it, if not stick with the example I provided above. I have had success with both options in the past.

For bounding exercises, perform no more than 3 jumps per set. Make sure you are getting full recovery and then repeat for 3-5 sets. If you are just starting to incorporate jumping into your program start with minimal volume and slowly increase the volume each week. For example, you can do 3 X 3 of broad jumps week 1, 4 X 3 week 2 and 5 X 3 week 3.

It is important to closely measure your volume and intensity. In order to do this I adhere to Prilepin’s Table. For example, say your 1 rep max box jump is 40 inches and all you have is a 36 inch box, you should perform around 5-7 singles for that workout. If your goal is to improve rate of force development, I do not recommend you jump below 70 percent of your 1 rep max.

I hope you enjoyed my top 10 jumping exercises to increase your vertical. Start by implementing a handful of these techniques into your training, or your athletes’ training, they will be come more explosive and start leaping higher and higher.

Of course, if you have any questions about this article, please leave a comment below and I’d be glad to address them and possibly do a follow-up sometime down the road. Make sure you head over to my website, and sign up for my newsletter to receive 3 FREE gifts including a 4 free week program, my performance nutrition manual and an awesome interview with EliteFTS Athlete, Chad Smith.


Joe Meglio

Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at Zach Even-Esh’s underground strength gym. Joe is a former college baseball player and has competed in powerlifting and written for many national magazines and online websites including, and and Today’s Man to name a few. Joe is giving away a FREE 4 week training program and a FREE performance nutrition manual. Claim your FREE Gifts. For more information on Joe Meglio and his unique training methods, check out