Despite graduating five seniors to Division I basketball programs, this year’s La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) boys basketball team managed to hold down the fort with a 24-3 record and a No. 8 ranking in the USA TODAY Super 25. We went one-on-one with coach Alan Huss to unlock a few keys to the Lakers' successful season.
What made up the Lakers pre-season training?
Huss: We have a pretty intense program. We have an eight-week segment during which we’re in the weight room four days a week. We condition three to four days a week and play pick-up basketball usually about every day. We also did offensive skill work at 5:45 a.m. three days a week — it’s by position and [performed] in groups of three to four.
How does training shift once players are in season?
We drop to two to three times a week [in the weight room]. It’s all maintenance — [players] drop down to about 65 to 70 percent of the weight, and they do all body work instead of [working] specific muscle groups each day. We do some Olympic stuff. During the season, it’s a lot of bodyweight and light dumbbell work with a huge emphasis on core and flexibility.
What's the value of stressing core strength?
That’s what basketball is now — core strength. Over the last 10 years, it’s become more important. Core strength and the ability to balance and be explosive requires a strong core. It also needed to be able to take contact and finish plays.
Tell us what your athletes do to improve core strength.
We do planks, usually using a medicine ball or basketball by placing feet or hands on the ball. Some of the exercises are just bodyweight — standard ab work, sometimes it’s lower back stuff. Some of it’s more functional where they’re making a basketball movement with a medicine ball.
What other bodyweight exercises are part of the Lakers’ in-season work?
They do walking and side lunges, step-ups. Usually [these] involve a medicine ball, too, but it doesn’t involve heavy weights.
Why do you emphasize flexibility?
The other part of strength and conditioning, for us anyways, is trying to prevent injury. Being more flexible is critical. We typically start everyday with a dynamic warm-up and then we go into a static stretching routine. In a couple of our maintenance routines there are some yoga poses. Players use foam rollers and bands, but [overall] it’s pretty traditional stretching.