This is a guest blog from Alan Stein, the owner of Stronger Team and the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the nationally renowned Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball program. He spent 7 years serving a similar position with the Montrose Christian basketball program. Alan brings a wealth of valuable experience to his training arsenal after years of extensive work with elite high school, college and NBA players.
Alan Stein worked the Annual Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp and had the opportunity to interview the New Orleans Hornets PG. Chris Paul (6'0", born May 6, 1985, college: Wake Forest) born and raised in North Carolina. Since being selected 4th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by New Orleans, Paul has been a NBA Rookie of the Year (2006), a three-time All Star, and an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team honoree. He has also won an Olympic Gold Medal with the USA National basketball team.
by Alan Stein
I was fortunate enough to work the 2nd Annual Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp. I sat down with Chris Paul on the final morning of camp to ask him questions about his training. Please note, I have paraphrased his answers, these are not verbatim. I didn't use a recorder, I merely scribbled notes as fast I could when writing down his answers!
At what age (or grade) did you first start lifting weights?
I didn't start to lift weights until I got to Wake Forest. Coach Prosser was a big advocate of it. I needed to get stronger to compete at that level.
How do you feel like it helped your game?
Getting bigger and stronger helped me compete with the big time players in the ACC. It made me stronger with the ball and on defense. I only weighed 155 lbs in high school! I got up to about 175 in college, and although I am currently listed at 175 lbs, I am actually right around 190 lbs. I have worked hard to get stronger and put on some muscle to help me survive the rigorous NBA season. I feel so much more powerful now.
Why do you think strength & conditioning for basketball players is important?
Strength and conditioning is not just about lifting weights and running sprints. While that is certainly part of it; so is stability training (for balance) and flexibility. All of these components help you move better on the court. Going from high school to college the game gets so much more physical. You go from playing with boys to playing with men. You need the extra strength.
What does your off season training program consist of now?
Since this was my first summer off in a couple of years (because of the Olympics in 2008) I took more time off than normal after the season (about a month). My body and mind needed a rest. But now I am back in full force. If I am not working with my private trainer I follow the program set up by the Hornets strength & conditioning coach. My main focus is getting stronger (especially in my core), improving my flexibility (I used to not be able to touch my toes!), and maintaining my new bodyweight (+10 lbs). I usually get up around 7am and eat breakfast, then do my dynamic flexibility and my strength work, then I take a few hours off, and then come back and do my court work (ball handling, shooting, etc.). At night I spend about an hour stretching. That has helped me more than you know.
What is the biggest difference between playing in college and in the NBA?
The speed of the game is certainly faster, but the biggest adjustment for me, since I play so many minutes every night, is how long the season is. 82 games plus pre-season plus playoffs is a grind! Your mind and your body have to be strong and durable.
What did you learn from your Olympic experience?
I learned what it takes to be a true champion. I never won a state title in high school. I never won a national title in college. I haven't won a national championship in the League yet. So this was my first time being a real champion. Luckily I got to do it on the biggest stage in the world! Being a champion is about details, hard work, and consistency. People forget we prepared for over 3 years to win that gold medal!
What do high school and college players need to improve on the most?
They need to learn how to really play the game. They need to learn how to think the game. Many of the top players are just so athletic and talented; they never learn how how to really play. They also rely too much on their athletic ability and not enough on proper fundamentals and footwork.