Where do we need to be before we can compete with other Asian teams such as China on a physical level?
We have set standards for all our big lifts such as squats, bench press and even vertical jump. The thing is that it doesn’t do a lot of good to say, ‘Hey this is what you should be and you are not that.’ So, we have levels that we want them to progress through. We have said ‘hey you know what? If you want to be able to compete for an Olympic spot at the Rio Olympics in 2016, this is the standard where we need to be.’
Can you tell us what your team averages are? This will ensure that every kid who reads this interview can work on his own using your booklet and try to reach that average. That’s the reason we want to know. Not so much for you to reveal inside secrets but to save some of your workload in the future! Let’s start with your minimum benchmark for vertical jumps.
Vertical’s actually ironically the least important thing that I focus on. Similar to what I’ve said in the book, when you increase strength, which we focus on the most, your vertical is going to go up automatically. All our players are jumping a lot already. Just jumping over and over and over doesn’t make you jump higher. If it did, then these guys will all have 40 inch verticals by now.
Our big focus is squats. This last camp, our first benchmark on the squat was to squat a 100 kilos. What I’m talking about here is the full depth squat—as low as you can go while keeping your back arched. Not a half squat. In our last camp, we started with a team average of 75 and went to a team average of 106 kilos.
We’ve got a camp in April and I expect to have at least four out of the 20 odd players, who can lift 130. Once we have cleared that, we’ll start them for 160. Most players manage to get to 100 kg with a couple of months of hard training. 130 might take a year or more. To hit 160, now you are talking three, four, or five years. The gains come easiest when you first start training. As you get going, it gets harder and harder to make those gains. I’ll like to see the team average go upto 160 kilos in squat. Now that’s tough. It’s doable, but it’s very tough.
Reviewing the day’s workout sheets with Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Amjyot Singh. Zak reviews how the players performed against their goals for the day, what they did well, and what can be improved in the next lift.
Do all your players have individual charts to see their growth?
Yes, they all have their individual programs. We keep track of their testing, absolutely.
Zak is currently working on a second book that focuses on free weight exercises. The Indian senior men’s team has just concluded its April training camp that was held in Bangalore. The team is scheduled to take part in the upcoming South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) Championships in New Delhi from June 2nd to 4th, from which the winner will qualify for the FIBA Asia Championships. We wish Zak and the Indian team the very best for SABA.