In part two of our conversation from Thursday, Texas basketball strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright speaks about the way he looks at the body, his decision to switch from college football to basketball and advice he has for parents of athletes.
Q: How important are the hips and core for an athlete?
A: It really depends on how you define the core. Most people would define the core as the middle part of the body. The way I would define the core is if you really look at how those muscles are anchored and where they are anchored. They are literally linked between the pelvis and the rib cage. They connect everything in there.
The hips, if you ever saw them without the skin on them, you would see the different angulations and how the muscles wrap in there around the pelvis and would instantly realize it's about training the core and every possible angle it can move in. It's about examining the loads. We don't do a lot of isolation core training.
We think that the foot creates the foundation of how to load the core correctly, so the foot acts as a foundation or suction cup. We classify it as a physical anchor. The foot will grab the ground and allow you to load those powerful muscles above the foot and into the core area.
We have developed a training system we call "The Vertical Core Training System", which is the ability to train your core in the upright position that is very specific to what we call training the transformational zones. The transformational zones would be snap shots of someone in action. What is the core doing at that point and time specifically? How can we mimic that in training to enhance how it really loads during competition?
Q: You played college football and started out your career in strength and conditioning in football. What was behind the decision to make the switch to basketball?
A: Obviously, my major love was football through college. I fell in love with training with my buddies in the summer time. I really enjoyed that part. I loved basketball too growing up. Basketball was just a thing that I wasn't good enough to play in college, but that was probably my first true love.
The reason I decided to make the switch to college basketball was Coach Barnes. I'll be honest with you, I wanted to compete for a national championship and wanted to be part of a machine that would win every year. At a very young age (24), I was drawn to coach's personality and spent so much time one on one that I knew that he would win. That was a very hard decision to make to leave football, but I left knowing that I could be a part of something that could eventually win a national championship.
Q: Do you have any advice for young kids or parents of young athletes as they enter the junior high and high school level as to training?
A: I would have advice for parents understanding the awareness that their children at young ages aren't getting base motor skills. Motor development skills they used to get. Back in 1992, physical education was eliminated from the Texas school system. Like your brain is developed cognitively through math and English, your central nervous system should develop basic motor patterns. How to walk, run, skip in different directions-laterally, forwards, backwards and unfortunately our children don't have that foundation anymore.
What happens is injuries will become much more of a factor than ever before and the ability to expose your child to as many different movements is the parent's responsibility now a days, which is wrong. It should be our government that should provide that, but a lot of parents don't understand that it's not being provided. My recommendations would be to let your child experiment with a number of different sports, but have them moving in a number of different directions and develop those movements. Leaping, shuffling hopping from leg to another and things like that is unfortunately not being developed.
Because of that, kids will get caught in high velocity sports and we will see more ACL and lower back type of injuries, injuries that could cause a major change in function for the rest of their lives. Expose them to many different things. If they find one sport they like, find a training program that will train them in several planes of motion - not just lifting. It's much more than lifting weights. It's the ability to understand how to take your body through certain movements.