Coach J working with an athlete

DR: J, you’ve been the driving force behind the CVASPS. Tell us, how did this first come to be started?

JD: A few years back I got the idea to start basketball specific seminar and started researching.  I sent an email to every strength coach in the country to see if there was interest and got quite a few responses.  One response I received was from Charles Stevenson, who was at NC State at the time, and he was already setting it up.  Well my boss at the time was Brandon Hourigan, and he basically called me out on it, and said that I needed to put that much time into our seminar.  That was the push that I needed to start building this into what it is today.  I looked around for things that would benefit me and my staff and people who were the “experts” in that particular realm of our field.  That led me to Yosef Johnson and UAC who have helped tremendously with the seminar and reached out people that we feel are the top coaches in the business and brought them in.  From here we are just looking to improve and make this thing better, with better information, better speakers, and a better format.

DR: You’ve worked very hard to build this conference into one of the best seminars around. Where do you see the future, or more specifically, who would you like to see presenting at cvasps in the next few years?

JD: The presenting aspect I will keep to myself for now, but let’s just say if things work out for 2012 you’ll see some familiar faces, and a few new ones.  One of which would be, in my opinion, the biggest presenter in the USA this coming year.  Most have been finalized, but until the full line up is, I don’t want to reveal much.

As far as where we are going, I think it goes in line with what we’ve talked about in the past.  What does our staff want to become better educated on is a priority, as is listening to the feedback received on each of the write ups we receive from the attendees.  I can assure you this, the information you will receive per dollar spent will never be equaled to our seminar.

DR: Let’s talk a little about your own work with the basketball team. Congrats on that Sweet 16 by the way. We talk a lot as strength coaches about the differences between recruiting top level teams and taking the time to develop athletes over time. This past season we saw what great coaching and physical preparation can do for two teams who don’t traditionally receive the best recruits. Your thoughts?

JD: My initial thought is if you look at all those teams, it’s not that they didn’t have good recruits.  They may have kids that were not as “sought after”, but if anyone wants to tell me that Sheldon Mack isn’t a good basketball player I’ll tell you they’re nuts, let alone Justin Harper, Kevin Anderson, Dan Geriot, Kevin Smith and Kevin Hovde.  They are kids that fit what we needed, and that’s what was great.  As far as development though, it is different when you know you’ll have a guy for 4 years.  On top of that knowing that they want to be good, they’ll work hard, spend the time in the summer to train and get better, those things make a huge difference.  I know that the “smaller dogs” that made it far in the NCAA tournament all handle their physical preparation differently, but they all seemed to have developed a team that produced at crunch time.

DR: What or who for you has been the driving force behind your training methodology?

JD: The most credit has to be given to my supervisors, Chris Stewart (Director of S & C) Chris Mooney (Head Men’s Basketball Coach) and Matt Barany (Head Swim and Dive Coach.  These guys challenge me to be a better coach every day, to make these kids better.  Not to just kill them and send them home, anyone can do that, but to make them better at what they do.  They give me the freedom and challenge me to learn more to make myself better so the kids can get better.  This, and Yosef Johnson, brought me to Dr. Yessis, both of whom (Yosef and Doc) have been extremely influential in the development of how I am preparing athlete’s today.  It’s been a blast working with them and seeing this process change into what we are looking at today.

On top of that, many people have “challenged” me in different ways.  Just talking with smarter guys humbles you.  Guys like Cal Dietz, Joel Jamieson, Tim Beltz, Bob Ihlenfedt, Jim Rooney, Todd Hamer this list could go on and on, and that’s not even mentioning “specialists” like Gray Cook, Mike Robertson, Charlie Weingroff, Jason Pegg, I could go on and on with this list as well.  It makes you realize that there are a LOT of people out there who know a TON more than you do about everything.

Having understudies pushes you to become better, to not be complacent with what you’re teaching them because you need to instill upon them that you have to continue to learn, to get better, or the athlete’s are the only ones that suffer.

I can honestly say, the day I met Yosef changed my view on training, my out look at what we do, and how I handle the process.  Yosef himself, along with the contacts I/we have made through him has been one of the biggest influences on how I view the training process.

DR: You ever look back on what you did in your early years in the field and just ask yourself, “What was I doing then?”

JD:No, I don’t, not at all.  If I didn’t do that, then I wouldn’t be where I am now.  There are something’s that I would have loved to have known sooner, but you can’t change that.  The process of getting to where I am now was great.

DR: Where do you see the future of our field in terms of great breakthroughs?

JD: Improvements in how we look at selecting training means and the incorporation of specialized exercises are the two big ones, followed closely by decreasing the overall volume of what the kids are doing.  We will them with too much volume and try to fly up the intensity way to fast.  Jeff Moyer shared a quote with me a couple weeks back from Dr. Verkhoshansky, “The most frequent coaching error is when he strives to obtain an increase in the athlete’s physical fitness level as soon as possible; increasing the training loads volume. However, “nine pregnant women together cannot assure the baby’s birth after one month.”  We can’t drive them into the ground, and a lot of people are doing so.

Looking at the training means selected, too many people (I feel) are doing too many things.  I think we, as a profession, need to take a big step back and look at what we are doing and simply ask, “Is this exercise and how we are performing it going to have a direct carry over to how we perform in competition?”  If the answer is not a resounding YES then you probably shouldn’t do it, or find a way to use that exercise in a way that it will.

Specialized exercises are something Doc brought to us, and they just work.  Period.  No questions asked.  I just presented on the knee drive and paw back at the PA State Clinic in Juniata College this summer and will have that video up available on the site soon, but they are simple exercises that have direct carry over to what we are trying to do, they don’t take long to learn, perform in a work out, aren’t taxing.  Sounds like a perfect combo to me.

Thank you for your time J, it’s always a pleasure.

Thank you Danny for being part of this, we really appreciate everything you have done, are doing, and will do for us in the future.

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