Over 100 NBA & Euroleague Basketball Players, including several World
Champions, and 5 top-20, 1st Round NBA Draft Picks, 5 Olympic Gold Medalists,
8 Olympic Silver Medalists and 4 NCAA National Champions in Indoor Volleyball,
12 Professional Beach Volleyball Players, including 1 Gold and 2 Olympic Silver Medalists ,
a figure skater with 5 World Championships & 9 US Championships, 6 NHL players, including an Olympic Silver Medalist, and an8-time Stanley Cup holder who is also an NHL Hall of Fame recipient,1 Heisman Trophy Candidate, 3 NFL Players, including 2 Super Bowl Champions,
a NL Baseball Pitcher, a member of the US Olympic Fencing Team, a World Champion and
Gold Medalist in Submission Wrestling,3 World Champions in MMA, the US National Stand-up Paddleboard Champion, a World Record Holder In Downhill Slalom, a Wimbledon Tennis Champion,
a Prima Ballerina from the Barcelona Ballet, a few “rock stars”, & many more.
Pepe Lasso, the father of Pablo Lasso, legendary Coach of Real Madrid, and considered the "father of Spanish basketball", called me the "best trainer in the world", and one who needs only a stopwatch. And Men's Health Magazine called me "The Muscle Whisperer", and "the trainer who resurrected Derek Fisher's career".
I've literally trained hundreds of the best athletes in the world, in every sport imaginable. I've also consulted to, and provided clinics for teams across the United States, Europe, and Asia.
My style of strength and conditioning training, CHAOS Accelerated Performance Training™, was developed with the understanding and appreciation training plateaus were the result of neurological adaptation. Think of the work involved in developing an effective golf swing, or a volleyball serve. The athlete must focus on developing optimal body mechanics that provide an efficient and successful outcome. Once we find that "sweet spot", we seek to replicate that same movement pattern or "engram" over and over again.
However, when you take that same approach to developing strength and conditioning, working to patterns - same sequence of exercises, performed over and over - your body adapts, becomes highly efficient, and you stop progressing. The solution - neurological confusion, or CHAOS. By constantly mixing up the exercise routine, your body and your mind are constantly challenged.
I also believe you must train from the ground up, and the inside out. We compete on our feet in in most sports, so ground based work creates functional strength which is more useful in competition. Developing balance, stability, and core strength in a proprioceptively enriched environment, improves efficiency, increases endurance, and is injury preventative.
My clients, who are some of the most gifted and talented athletes in the world, have often learned through their work withme they were not performing at their full potential, and that they had more in them than they knew. I provide a beneficial paradigm shift to a totally new approach to athletic strength and conditioning that is neurologically challenging, but which opens the door wide to performance improvement.
There are four clearly delineated stages to my approach:
1. Evaluation. Requires a close inspection of gross anatomy, skeletally and muscularly. We all enter the world being asymmetrical, with a strong and a weak side. Anatomy Trains theory tells us that if you are a strong right hand, your left leg is stronger and more stable than your right. Your preference on the court or field is to move to your right, pushing off the strong leg. It's built into your DNA, and reinforced over time. Unilateral strength training can mitigate much of this. We also have skeletal asymmetries. These are reinforced by poor posture, tightness or laxity in ligaments and tendons, and unresolved compensations from prior injuries. All of which can contribute to fresh or secondary injuries. These can be resolved through physical therapy combined with smart strengthening of specific muscle groups.
2. Balance, Stability, & Core - These each represent the foundational requirements for the development of functional strength and the expression of power or explosiveness. It is necessary to build endurance with each, as well as the ability to perform these skills under stress with minimal performance degradation. Without core endurance you cannot express power at the end of your limbs, and you cannot be efficient in movement. Without balance and stability you cannot create explosiveness.
3. Strength - Pure or absolute strength, the strength of a one-rep max bench press for example, is interesting, but not useful in athletic competition. More importantly it is the strength you can muster, for example, to bring down a quarterback with one hand when you are at a full sprint on an unstable surface, drive through multiple defenders to the basket, or maintain your position when shoved to the boards as you go for the puck.
4. Power - The expression of work over time, incorporates plyometric development of explosiveness and rapid acceleration, such as the ability to steal a base in the time allowed for a missed catch, or accelerate to the opposite wing of the basketball court to defend against a score.
You can think of these as a pyramid. Each is foundational to the next. also It's in this process that often I discover the discreet weaknesses that once addressed can be the key that unlocks the door to a higher level of performance.
At the top of the pyramid is sports related skill development. I've encountered many an athlete who has skipped by the building blocks, and whose career has failed to achieve it's promise. Also, more often than not, the injured athletes I've seen have failed to recognize and ignored the value of core, stability, and balance.
Even the NCAA is becoming more aware of the value of proprioception in injury prevention. Unfortunately, it's the women's sports that have embraced a new way, walked away from Olympic platform training ,and embraced high volume, high intensity functional exercise as the optimal approach to creating strong and capable athletes more immune to devastating sports injuries.
As sports conditioning coaches, strength coaches, and trainers, I feel strongly we have an ethical obligation to train our clients in ways that are both safe and effective. In my private practice, beginning twenty years ago, I made a decision I was going to serve my clients, who were athletes, not the team, or its coaches, managers, or owners. My role, responsibility, and loyalty was clear. I made that choice. And many a team Athletic Trainer, or team General Manager has been less than happy with me because I gave the athlete advice that conflicted with team goals.
My value to a client, whether they are an ordinary person, or a world class athlete, is twofold. First, I am a world class trainer/strength coach. Second, I'm a skilled clinician with a significant experience and expertise in health care. Clients come to me well. But they also often come to me injured. My value in that instance is the assistance and advice I offer in navigating the health care system, vetting and selecting the right clinician for the job, and managing the process.
When an athlete is injured, high school or pro, there is a pressure to return to the sport prematurely. The team, coaches, sometimes parents, and the athlete, him or her self, all want to see a return to play. But to do so prematurely, before healing is complete, is foolhardy. Secondary or follow-on injuries are common, and then comes the inevitable injury cycle that ultimately ends careers prematurely. I help to ensure this doesn't happen.
On July 10, 1999, I was sitting in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California in 100+ degree heat, as Team USA, led in part by my client Mia Hamm, and Brandi Chastain, clinched the World Cup in a desperate effort against China.
In the years that followed I had the opportunity to witness many similar great sporting events, nearly all up close and personal. But I've also had the pleasure of working with middle and high school athletes. Those I particularly have enjoyed, sought out even. Because I always felt I could get to some youngster early on, teach them the most correct and beneficial way to prepare for their sport, most importantly, they might survive their athletic career without injury.
Which brings me to the point, what is it I do that is different, and that caused so many athletes to seek me out? I think first it's my maturity, combined with my experience; educationally, as a clinician, my body of work, and the reputation I've gained through the years.
Second, I combine elements of many different approaches to fitness in my training. For example, although I am a firm proponent of training in a neurologically enriched, unstable environment, I weave stabilized resistance training through the fabric of a workout.
Third, I train in a state of "CHAOS", where no two training sessions are alike. Maintaining a high degree of neuromuscular confusion ensures avoidance of training plateaus. My clients experience a state of continuous improvement.
Fourth, I train my clients using low weight, high volume, at high intensity. No client, from the biggest NFL lineman to the smallest figure skater has ever lifted more than 45 pounds. Heavy Olympic-style lifts, no matter good form, create cumulative trauma injuries to susceptible joints; lumbar spine, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. I've worked with more than one high school senior volleyball player, with low-back pain, who demonstrated advanced osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine on MRI. Both had collegiate offers to D-1 schools that were lost to an injury that really can't be effectively healed.
Fifth, I train very safely, and no athlete has ever experienced an injury while training with me. Through an intelligent, progressive training process I minimize risk and optimize performance. I teach my clients to move "with intention", in good form, using postural, balance, and core control.
Sixth, I believe in providing a breakthrough experience, allowing my clients to exceed their perceived physical and emotional limitations. That can occur through development of the ability to do a 25-minute plank, or to crank out 50 pistol squats in a row on each leg. The work I do is high intensity. I am relentless in my expectations, and demand that clients deliver. The net result is dramatic improvement in a short period of time, and a sense of "powerfulness" never experienced.
Finally, I respect the limits of my expertise. I am not a massage therapist, physical therapist, sports psychologist, or a nutritionist. However, I have always promoted to my clients these professionals should be your "entourage". Derek Fisher was the first of my clients I suggested this concept to. He took it, and I believe Derek's willingness to take this, and other advice I offered, was the reason why he had three back-to-back best seasons of his career with me, beginning at the age of 30, considered by most to be "old" in the league.
Other Than Pro Athletes
I am often asked if I work with clients other than professional athletes. The answer is, of course. My career began with me working as a nurse consultant in rehabilitation. I worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities, and adults and children with head and spinal cord injuries, and I have done so in nearly every major rehabilitation hospital or center in the United States. I have also volunteered for several wheelchair games, including the Paralyzed Veterans of American games.
I have also volunteered my time in Los Angeles to three local universities; UCLA, USC, and CSDH At Bishop Montgomery High School, and Cal State Dominguez Hills, the coaches allowed me to take over the strength training of their men's basketball teams full time for the summer and pre-season. I took both teams out of the weight room, and trained them exclusively on the basketball court. At the end of the summer, one remarkable accomplishment was achieved by both, in that every student athlete could finish a fifteen-minute plank. More importantly, both teams had no injuries the following season, and the CSDH Toros won the most games in school history, winning the CCA conference for the first time in school history, and making it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
In addition to my work with high school and college teams, I've done work with a considerable number of individual youth individual athletes across a range of sports; Lacrosse, football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, etc. And many of my younger clients have worked with me from middle school, and gone on to obtain scholarships at some of the best athletic colleges and universities; UCLA, USC, UVA, Oregon, Villanova, ASU, etc.
In addition to all my work with athletes of every stripe, I worked with a significant number just ordinary people. Some were recreational athletes, and some were not. Most wanted to either recover their lost athleticism and get back in shape. Some came to me injured, looking for a solution; either a referral, or rehabilitation. And then there were the "seniors" who came to me to teach them how to use the "machines" in the gym. They have all been surprised the first thing I ask them to do, is to first simply sit on the floor, then stand back up unaided.
What follows is a discussion around the topic of independence; the ability to move freely without assistance, and without the fear of falling. I help them to understand that sitting on a machine and pushing or pulling weights will not safeguard them from tripping over a rug, or give them the ability to climb a set of stairs or take a long walk in the park. Like every other client, they are delighted to discover just how good a condition they be in. The fact is age is not a barrier to good health, physical conditioning , and activities you want to participate in.