My coaching partner Bellini (he’s kind of like a “life partner” except our relationship consists entirely of coaching and talking about coaching over lunch) sent me this video last night, and I love it so much I have to write about it.
In the vid, the star NBA player Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks performs some body weight squats and static single leg squats while a muscular man helps him with his posture. Take a look:
What I love about this vid is that the strength coach looks like the stereotypical meat head weight room guy (Why do they never have a full head of hair?) but there is nothing reckless or ill-conceived about what he is doing with Porzingis.
I know that every strength coach wants to be able to brag about how strong they get their clients. It’s good for business.
So, I’m sure this guy would love to Facegram all his friends the news that he got Kristaps Porzingis to squat 500 pounds! It would be his legacy, the thing he would be remembered for long after he is forced into retirement because his neck has gotten so big he can no longer find a shirt that fits.
But putting any amount of weight on Porzingis’ shoulders would be crazy at this point because Porzingis, like many tall young athletes, can barely maintain a safe posture while performing a squat with only his body weight.
By “safe posture” I mean torso upright, shoulders aligned over the hips, like this:
You can see in the vid that Porzingis has to fight like crazy not to lapse into this kind of posture…
…during his squat reps. Doing so with even a light load would put him at a high risk of injuring his back. His trainer clearly understands this and so is putting him through the hard, tedious work necessary to prepare him for some sort of loaded squatting–if and when Porzingis can handle it.
That, in my humble opinion, is excellent strength coaching.
The guy has ascertained Porzingis’ weaknesses and has designed a plan to address them.
And I’ll bet if a different kind of athlete, say somebody like Olympic javelin champion Thomas Rohler…
…walked into that guy’s gym he would not use the same workout that he uses with Porzingis.
Rohler is literally a foot shorter than Porzingis and has great core strength and flexibility. I’ll bet he could do a set of 50 of those single leg squats that Porzingis struggles with in the video. What would be the point of putting those two very different athletes on the same routine?
And what if world champion shot putter Joe Kovacs walked into that gym?
Joe is stout, super explosive, and not very flexible. He could probably rip my Prius in half, but he’d flunk the sit-and-reach test in gym class. Would he, Porzingis, and Rohler all benefit from the same training program?
I think not.
So, when I watch the Porzingis video I see two important facets of strength training displayed: patience and individualization.
And those are things that all of us who train kids in the weight room should try to include in our programs.