• Coach E

Interview with Basketball Coach and Ninja Warrior Contestant Callum Knox

Hey everyone hope you are all doing well. So as more things are opening up and more restrictions are easing I have been able to get back to playing basketball. It got me thinking about how much I have missed basketball during the pandemic and how I got started in the game. This led me to asking other players their stories and todays interview is just that. I caught up with Callum Knox who is the Head Coach of the University of St Andrews Women’s 1st team, one of my team mates and a previous contestant on Ninja Warrior. Let see what he had to say.

How did you first get involved with basketball?

I enjoyed playing basketball in PE when I was first introduced to it in 3rd year at High School, I had a very enthusiastic Teacher who used to do lunchtime and after schools and after a few weeks of going to them I fell in love with the game.

How and why did you get into coaching?

When I was 16 the aforementioned Teacher suggested I learn more about Basketball by going to a Getting Started Coaching course ran by BasketballScotland and from there I started to help Coach the 1st and 2nd years every Friday lunchtime at school.

How important would you say strength and conditioning is for basketball?

S&C is a key area for athletes in any Sport but I feel strongly that Basketball is a sport in which players can really benefit from physical training, it is a game in which players are required to perform multiple movements in quick succession for a prolonged duration working to a stimulus. The players whom tend to have a lot of success in the sport are those who know how to use their body and work on their bodies to improve certain attributes eg, lateral quickness, acceleration, deceleration, vertical jump the list is long. I’ll leave injury reduction to Q9.

What elements of strength and conditioning do you think are the most important for players to work on?

Foundational strength and mobility/flexibility are the most important in my mind as you can’t go too far without a good base. Most players who skip the first steps want to do all the fancy exercises because they are fun and challenging but in my experience the challenge comes from making a plan and sticking to it and the fun begins when you start to perform exercises and do things on court which many other can’t and you yourself might not have thought possible.

Do you think strength and conditioning is an area that players and coaches neglect?

In my experience YES, but they are starting to get it right in the Professional Leagues and high-level College/University/Academy teams. I think most amateur teams think they need to bring in an S&C Coach and pay them and players don’t have enough time etc. I think it’s at the amateur level that simple S&C protocols can have a hugely positive impact on the team ability to win – even if less ‘talented’.

I know you are still playing at a high level as well as coaching, how do you find the time to keep in shape? And what does normal week of your own training look like?

Planning, without planning there is always an excuse for not training. I plan my work, coaching, basketball, gym training and anything else I need to do all in the one diary, it makes for a busy diary, but it gives me a weekly blueprint.

A normal training week during the season would be:

Mon – Heavy strength session + Stretching/Yoga

Tues – Short core/balance session + Basketball individual/team training

Wed – Speed/power session + Stretching/Yoga

Thurs – Basketball team training

Fri – Light/movement focused session

Sat – Game day + stretching/yoga

Sun – I usually do a 45-60 minute walk as active recovery

From both a player’s and coaching perspective do you think our attitudes towards strength and conditioning have changed since you first started playing basketball?

Yes, I think the basketball community are starting to think of the area most holistically and they understand that S&C is more than just lifting heavy and building muscle.

When looking to select or recruit players how much of a factor is a players’ strength and conditioning in your decision making?

Generally the first thing I look for after - IQ, skill level, coachability and team fit – is their athletic potential, speaking from experience though the players that are ‘in shape’ and clearly train hard are more than likely going to be the players who will do anything to help the team and they understand the process of improving, they also tend to be the more competitive players too.

Do you think there is a link between strength and conditioning and injury prevention?

In a nutshell I believe that with the correct S&C protocol as well as adequate recovery etc you will be less likely to be injured and if you are its likely to not be as serious. S&C however will not make you bulletproof and as Basketball is a contact sport there are many injuries which we cannot avoid. S&C does have a hugely positive impact when it comes to players recovering from injury though – rehab.

I know that you once took part in ninja warrior. What was that experience like, and did you have to change the way you trained for it?

Being on Ninja Warrior UK was a great experience, I really enjoyed the whole process – other than falling off the cargo net and into the water! I went to the regional try-outs in Glasgow around 2-3 months before the show was filmed, there were 8-10 stations which tested various physical attributes eg. Pull-ups, rope climbing, vertical jump, balance beams. The try-out was a lot of fun and I probably enjoyed it more than the day of the show because we were able to keep moving the whole time, on show day we were sitting for hours at a time and it was difficult to stay ready. On the run up to the show I condensed my usual gym training to 2 strength days per week and 2-3 days which I programmed in to improve my upper body strength, balance and agility – I still remember trying and performing exercises I never thought I’d be able to do.

Finally what advice would you give young players looking to be the best players they can?

Surround yourself with good people who have knowledge and experience and listen to them. Make a Plan (or find an S&C Coach/Trainer to make you one) and follow through with it, do what your body needs to do not what looks good or what ‘everyone else is doing’. Finally, watching NBA players and professional athletes doing their workouts is always interesting but following what they are currently doing is likely not going to get you to where they are, prioritise the fundamentals and build a foundation.

I would like to thank Callum for his time and I look forward to getting back out there on the court with him soon. If you have an event, topic or want to be interviewed get in touch. I am always looking for new articles to write. Don’t forget to subscribe and follow on Insta @teamevex to stay up to date with new content.

Thanks for reading and keep evolving!

Coach E