How the Utah Jazz Improve Big-Man Speed

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Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer dominates the hardwood. His powerful speed, combined with his soft touch, allows him to get in position to be an offensive and defensive threat. To understand how big guys like Boozer hype their on-court speed, we hit up Mark McKown, Jazz strength and conditioning coach.

How does lack of speed hinder a big guy?
First off, you'll miss a ton of scoring opportunities. But second, and more important, you'll be a liability on the defensive end of the court. You won't play the game effectively if you don't have speed.

What should guys concentrate on to improve speed?
We want them to be able to move laterally and change direction at high speeds. To accomplish this, we do high impact plyometrics, like box jumps, and low impact plyometrics, like rapid jumps over a dowel, both twice a week in the off-season. High impact plyos increase muscle fiber elasticity and recruitment, while low impact plyometrics teach the muscles to relax because of the rapid repetitions. Both are necessary for big guys to play effectively.

What kind of sets, reps and rest time do you prescribe?
For box and dowel jumps, we want our big guys to get 60 contacts with the floor. So we do 6 sets of 10 contacts and let them recover fully.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see big guys make when training their speed?
Slow endurance training and cardio work, like running long distances. If you train slowly, you become slow, because your body responds to the way you train. And that's not how basketball is played.

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