VUhoops.com has had the great pleasure of meeting and chatting with Alan Stein. Alan runs Stronger Team and is in his 6th year as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Montrose Christian in Rockville, MD under legendary coach Stu Vetter. Montrose is, of course, where Villanova Signees Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood are playing.
Alan has given us the following report to share with the fans of Villanova Basketball on what's happening in the Strength & Conditioning program for the Montrose Christian basketball team...
My job description is still to reduce the occurrence of injury, get our players as strong as possible, and get them in remarkable basketball shape. I do this by conducting workouts on a year round basis, including individual and team workouts. I sit in coat and tie on the bench at every game, take the team through pre-game warm-ups, provide workouts and workout info to both future and former Montrose players, and work passionately to develop an enriching relationship with every player in our program. I also establish relationships with most of the nation’s top college coaches, assistant coaches and strength coaches and provide feedback on our player’s work ethic, attitude, and physical attributes.
Over the course of the last few years I have been extremely fortunate to get to know Villanova basketball head coach Jay Wright, assistant Patrick Chambers, and strength & conditioning coach Lon Record. I have the utmost respect and adulation for all three of these men and am very pleased that two of our outstanding seniors, Mouphtaou Yarou and Isaiah Armwood will be joining the Wildcats next season. Mouph and Isaiah are not only two of the nation’s best high school basketball players, but two outstanding young men as well.
I have known Isaiah since his freshman year and have really enjoyed seeing him develop from a spindly teenager to one of the Big East’s top incoming freshman. Isaiah is 6’8” and has gained over 30 lbs since his freshman year at Montrose to his current 200lbs. He has an unparalleled work ethic in the weight room and on the court and has shown tremendous leadership this season, which has played a major role in our current rankings of 6th in the nation by USA Today and 10th in ESPN.
I got an opportunity to meet Mouph and take him through a workout at the beginning of this past summer, prior to him deciding to come to Montrose. We were introduced through a mutual friend. I was immediately impressed with his exceptional footwork, powerful 6’10”, 250lb. frame, and surprisingly enough… his magnetic smile. Like Isaiah, Mouph has the potential to earn quality time his freshman year. Mouph has the tools to end up being one of the most accomplished players in Big East history. I know that is a very bold statement, but I sincerely believe it.
In addition to the aforementioned goals of reducing the occurrence of injury, getting our players as strong as possible, and getting them in remarkable basketball shape, I have several other focal points for players like Mouph and Isaiah:
- Teach them how to work hard in the weight room. I am so fortunate to work with very motivated players at Montrose. Nearly every player we have has the goal of playing in college, so our kids want to get better. As a whole, we have kids with great work ethics. However, working hard in the weight room is different than working hard on the court and is new for most of our players. I teach them to overcome severe muscular discomfort and fight through muscular fatigue, how to control their bodies in space (balance, etc.), and of course proper lifting, cutting, and running technique. Most of our players are fortunate enough to go on to college to play, so it is also my job to best prepare them for their future strength & conditioning coach. I want to make sure I have laid the proper ground work so their future strength coach is not starting from scratch and having to teach the most basic concepts. Lon Record at Villanova is one of the best in the business and Lon and I talk regularly about Mouph and Isaiah’s status and progress. The best compliment I can receive is for a college level strength coach to inherit one of my Montrose players and say, “someone taught this kid how to work hard!”
- Teach them some basic nutrition guidelines. Most of our players eat like normal high school students; skip breakfast, eat a crummy lunch, snack on candy and soda, and maybe eat a decent dinner after study hall, weights and practice. That is no way for an elite level athlete to fuel their body. It is my goal to get our players to understand how important it is to stay hydrated and eat properly and change some of those poor eating habits. I have input in our pre-game meals as well as get Coach Vetter to provide our famous “peanut butter and jelly and chocolate milk” buffet after all weight workouts! Post workout nutrients are key!
- Get them to gain muscular body-weight. As a general rule of thumb, 9 out of 10 high school basketball players need to gain weight. Occasionally we have a player who needs to lose weight (body fat), but for the most part players need to add some size to compete at our level and then certainly at the college level. This is done through year round weight workouts and getting them to eat, eat, and eat. Once they are done eating then we usually have them eat a little more! Isaiah’s weight gain for 30 pounds in 3 years is pretty typical in our program, although certainly everyone is different. Two of our younger players, freshman Justin Anderson and sophomore T. Jordan Omogbehin have gained 20 and 50 lbs respectively since setting foot at Montrose (note “Big” Jordan is 7’1” with as big of a frame as I have ever seen). If these results seem to good to be true, keep in mind most of our players have never done any weight training prior to coming to Montrose, have never been encouraged to eat so much, and are at an age where their bodies are physically maturing.
As far as my overall philosophy, I understand basketball is a combination of strength, power, conditioning, flexibility, and skill proficiency. These traits are vital to the success of every player at every level and are characteristics that can be improved through proper training. It is important players participate in a truly comprehensive, year round training program in order to maximize their athletic ability. In order for a player to reach their true potential on the basketball court, they must be in great shape. More specifically, they need to be in great basketball shape. A basketball player is not an Olympic lifter, track athlete, or bodybuilder, so they need not train that way.
A properly implemented training program can improve a player’s overall performance by getting them to run faster, jump higher, and box out stronger! The game of basketball consists of short, high intensity bursts of energy that include sprinting, back pedaling, defensive sliding, and jumping. Therefore, the conditioning workouts should reflect these movement patterns. It is important that a player can compete at a high level of intensity for the entire game. The difference between good player and a great player is that great players don’t get tired and are still explosive late in the game!
When it is all said and done, let’s not forget the most important aspect, their fundamentals and ability to play the game, because after all, it doesn’t matter how strong or in shape a player is… if they can’t shoot, pass, rebound or defend… they can’t play!
About Alan Stein Alan Stein, CCS, CSCS
Professional Strength & Conditioning Coach
Specializing in Elite Level Basketball