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February 29, 2012

Strength & Conditioning: Focusing on the individual


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Florida Strength & Conditioning Program: Recovery time in Gainesville | Dillman leads with fire

Billy Donovan's voice filled with disappointment as he mulled over the possibilities. Fans waited for the news and eventually got what Donovan had feared. Starting forward Will Yeguete broke his foot and was out for the season.

Preston Greene was preparing to learn. As the strength and conditioning director for the UF men's basketball team, it is Greene's job to evaluate injuries like the one suffered by Yeguete and use it to make himself a better assistant to athletes going forward.

Just like any basketball player or coach, Greene watches film from games and practices every day. After Yeguete went down, it was time to evaluate details.

"How he came down, how he landed, things like that, absolutely," Greene said. "What kind of position he was in, any type of information that we can pick up to get better from to apply to our athletes in the future is kind of a reason why we'll watch film."

While coaches may be paying close attention to individual performance and how schemes work out on the court during film sessions, coaches like Greene - who is one of nine full-time strength coaches at Florida - are watching how players move, how they change direction and exactly how fresh they look on the court in regard to explosiveness and jumping power.

"I can kind of get a better feel of where a guy's at from a physical standpoint," Greene said.

For Greene, training basketball players is all about turning a team into an array of individuals, the opposite of the philosophy Donovan and others have to bring to work. Every player is handled differently based on both evaluation and what Donovan wants to see out of the specific player. Requests can include get a player fast, get a player stronger or various weight concerns.

"Coach Donovan may say, 'Put 15 pounds on this guy, take 10 pounds off this guy. Work on his explosiveness,'" Greene said. "We really like to break down per needs with our training programs."

One player who has received a large amount of individual attention recently is center Patric Young. Greene realizes his strength and his explosiveness but has said the biggest area of focus is to better his conditioning. Donovan has said throughout the season that Young needs to get better at playing well throughout games and not just in specific moments. Greene is working on that.

"We want to train him in things he is not good at, the same thing with all of our athletes," he said. "We want to train their weaknesses. Instead of doing the things you're good at, things that you're very efficient at, we want to train what they're not good at."

Some of the ways Greene gets his players to expand their mental and physical capabilities are through uncomfortable situations. While basketball players might be used to generic cardio or agility workouts, they rarely have been faced with strongman training during their careers.

"Doing unconventional things that basketball players typically aren't used to in the sense of flipping tires, pushing cars and trucks, pulling things, any type of physical exertion and intense exercise that they're not used to doing," Greene said. "You like to put them in uncomfortable situations so they can adapt and get better at it and then build confidence."

The results show through not only on the court but in the way former players revert back to their college training regimens when they move on to professional careers. Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah is just one of the former Gators who feel at home in Gainesville during the offseason.

"That's pretty consistent all across the board here with a lot of our athletes like to come back because they enjoy being in this training environment," Greene said. "They know that they're going to get better and that they're very comfortable with being here in the sense that when they report back to training camp, they're going to be in the best condition to perform phenomenally well at their tests they're going to be required to do at training camp. A lot of our former athletes come back, regardless of what sport."


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