For somebody who wants to improve at basketball, he would want to know which drill will help him in which movement. Your booklet has a lot of things, but it doesn’t say “if you do this it will help your shooting”, or “if you do squats it will help your lateral movement.”

It does talk about that (to) some (extent). It talks about the fact that majority of athleticism in basketball comes from the lower body putting force into the ground. I know what you are saying. That’s the struggle with writing a booklet. People always want a cookbook they can just follow, “tell me A, do first. B, do second. C, do third.”

But you do have that. At the end of all the chapters, you have a detailed progression chart…

(with a nod of the head) I do have some of that. But even then I hope people don’t go straight to the chart and just try to follow that. What I really tried to do was give people the big concepts, so that they can make changes as are needed for them specifically, that they can understand ‘why’ they are doing it. Those are the things that are important to me. Don’t just do it to do it. If you do it just to do it you are probably going to do it wrong, and you are not going to get much out of it.


You have clarified in your booklet that knee injuries are not caused by the knees coming out way in front of the toes, but rather these are a result of the heels not remaining planted on the ground. Another correction you suggest is that when somebody does a pushup, they should brace their core. I can tell you from personal experience that 99% of the country does it the wrong way! So this whole issue of unlearning and relearning the right technique, is it something you had to battle with in terms of your own players? Did you have to correct them in what they were doing?

I did correct them. I won’t say battle. Anytime they learn something, just like a coach teaches them a new way to shoot, when they are used to one thing their whole life, it takes a lot of correction over time. You don’t just change your habits the first time you hear something negative about it. This is especially true when it concerns things about your body. You have groove patterns which you are used to. So we have got to re-groove the correct patterns. Most of our players have come along pretty well, in fact.

Working with Eudrick Pereira on his deadlift technique. Eudrick was having a hard time keeping his back in the correct position and Zak was teaching him which part of his body he needs to focus on.

Sometimes. I mean those (instances you pointed out about the correct way to do pushups, switching off electronic devices in the lead up to sleep and the right nutrition) are not based off of my personal experiences. Those are based out of research, reading literature and studying what is out there. There have been lots of studies that have been done. So if you look at the actual science versus just what some guru is saying, then it makes a big difference. That’s why I don’t want to be some guru that people listen to and just do what I say simply because ‘Zak said it’. Maybe I’m wrong! My recommendations are based on not what the people are saying but what has been studied. That’s what I’m trying to pass on to people in a way that makes sense to the average person and they can apply it.

Many young players mimic NBA stars like Allen Iverson and start wearing arm sleeves or knee guards. What is your recommendation on using such accessories?

If you want to look cool and it helps you look cool I guess it’s all right. But if there is an injury, then that’s a question for the physio. Sometimes there is a purpose to wrap the knee or to try and keep it warm. Again, I’m not the one making that final call. Anything regarding the team, I pass if off to the physio and he’s going to try and do that (make that call). Are the sleeves these kids wearing, loose or tight? If it’s tight and restricts movement then it’s not going to be beneficial.

What are your views on the popular Air Alert program to increase vertical jump?

One of the players had that and showed it to me. It’s probably better than nothing. But it’s one of those programs that I could have written and charged money for. Our program is much better in the long run than doing Air Alert. To me, it’s a gimmicky product. It won’t have any real lasting benefit and it’s not going to give very substantial gains. Is it better than nothing? Sure. From what I’ve seen and remember of it, I think my biggest issue was that some of the exercises weren’t really going to be that effective and others weren’t explained that well. I was just worried about safety in some of them and that players were going to hurt themselves because it wasn’t explained well enough.

I try to be really thorough even when we are doing really simple things like push ups. Push ups is something you really can’t get hurt with. But anything with the lower body—that’s where most injuries happen. That’s where you want to be most careful.

Gopalakrishnan R
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