Lakers Training Room Update

Sasha - Luke

Throughout the summer and particularly in the past few weeks, Lakers Director of Athletic Performance Chip Schaefer has been among the members of L.A.’s training staff routinely working with various Lakers players. Many of L.A.’s younger guys - including Luke Walton, Josh Powell, Sasha Vujacic and Adam Morrison - have regularly been participating in strength and conditioning programs run by Schaefer.

Other players go through their own specific training regimen outside of the practice facility (i.e. Lamar Odom’s boxing routine), but Schaefer and the staff monitor what each and every guy is doing. Accordingly, headed over to the training room to get a player-by-player update from Schaefer:

Schaefer: Josh has been traveling in and out of town all summer (between North Carolina and L.A.), but every week I e-mail him his program so we can follow him from afar. That way I know exactly what he’s doing, so when he gets back in L.A. we can hit the ground running. I already know where he is in the cycle phases, which varies from player to player.

Last year was the first time I had a chance to work with Josh since it was his first with the Lakers, and I found him to be among a handful of the most dedicated players we’ve had. He has a mantra of ‘I’m just trying to get better’ that applies off the court in strength training and some of the different things we do to try and keep him healthy. He’s been in here first thing in the morning working with (Lakers advance scout and assistant coach) Rasheed Hazzard for his on-court work, then he comes in and goes full blast with me for an hour or hour-and-a-half every day. His programs are such that we’re sort of peaking towards training camp, which means an increase in the intensity of the program as well as the volume. That means we may be doing more weight and fewer repetitions to try and get him in tip-top shape heading into training camp.

Sasha – Luke FloorSchaefer: As our fans know, Sasha left the Slovenian National Team about two weeks ago, and has been back in Los Angeles both rehabbing some of the knee issues he had and starting on some of his conditioning and upper body work that he has been able to do without limitations at all. He’s been in pretty consistently since he’s been back in town.

Just like with anyone else, the first thing we do when guys get back from out of town – whether it’s with a player’s National team or just working out on their own – is assess the level of fitness they’re in and determine what they’ve been doing. For people like Sasha, who have been playing all summer with their National teams, they’re going to come back in pretty good shape. As far as strength and conditioning, we do tend to create different cycles throughout the offseason and during the season, but we have some general principles that we apply in all our programs.

Schaefer: Shannon spent most of his summer in Chicago, but he’s back in town now. Most of the stuff he likes to do is on the court, in addition to some bodyweight and core-type work and we’re fine with that. You don’t look at Shannon Brown and think, ‘Boy we need to improve your power,’ the guy is just freakishly gifted in those departments, so we don’t want to mess with it too much. The biggest thing, and our priority on this staff, is injury prevention as much as we can. There’s no substitute for having guys on that court 82 nights a year. That’s our goal, every year, to have them dress for every game and not miss practice, because that’s where they can really improve. So it’s not all performance enhancement work … which we do … but also keeping our guys on the court.

Schaefer: One of the challenges that’s presented with an athlete like Kobe - who obviously is fully dedicated to his health and his well-being 365 days a year – are all the off-court obligations that need to be fulfilled in a limited amount of time. It’s non-stop. Therefore, it’s difficult for him to get the consistent training that he’d probably prefer to get if it weren’t for those obligations. That said, I don’t know anybody that does a better job of doing it all. The last couple of weeks Kobe has been coming in and coordinating workouts very, very early in the morning. I don’t know when he sleeps, but he likes to get his work done early. It’s been mostly on-court stuff, including a lot of flexibility stuff, here at the facility. As talented as he is, what really separates Kobe is that he continues to strive his on-court skill work, and he never gets tired of the fundamentals. There’s a reason why he is where he is.

Schaefer: We haven’t had a chance to work with Ron yet, but we’re looking forward to that. He’s obviously a tremendous specimen and talent physically, and we’re really confident that he’ll blend right in with the rest of the team. He has been in to work out with Kobe early in the morning as well.

Adam Morrison benchingSchaefer: Adam has had a very good summer with us, with a little bit of travel as well. He was the only veteran to play with us in Summer League, and Adam did come to us last year with some lingering issues from that (ACL) reconstruction that he had in Charlotte. He’s had some health issues related to that knee as well as some tightness and restriction issues in his pelvis, back and core, because he is a player that you look at and say probably could easily stand to gain maybe 6-8 pounds of lean mass to his frame. You don’t want to overdo that, but he has a nice frame and I think that (the team) is looking to use him on the wing as a two or three, so he can afford a little increase in mass. Right now we’re phasing into some general strengthening stuff into some speed and power, in addition to some movement enhancement things to try to work on his first-step quickness.

He’s been pretty good about playing throughout the summer as well, working out with his private coach, and he’s been very dedicated. It’s been a good summer for Adam.

Schaefer: I understand that Lamar is doing some boxing, although I haven’t had a chance to talk with him since his (re-signing) press conference. We’re fine with that, the idea of doing some cross training and alternate work. At this level, when guys are getting to their 10th or 11th year in the league, we’re together for eight months every year – hopefully – and there’s a lot of basketball to be played. So when guys want to do something else to increase their work capacity and general fitness, it’s just fine. Just a few weeks on the basketball court is more than enough to get that basketball specific timing and training back, so I have no problem with the type of training Lamar’s been doing. I’m just happy to learn that he’s been working hard.

Schaefer: We love the fact that guys are still playing basketball and staying fit in a competitive atmosphere, and obviously the European Championships feature a high level of basketball. These guys all have the luxury of being with teammates they trust, and staffs that we’re assuming are very competent and aren’t over-training the players, as with Pau in Spain. It’s unfortunate that these things do lead to injuries some times, but you just cross your fingers and hope players come through healthy. In fact, sometimes playing pick-up games in gyms get raggedy, and players may be more likely to get hurt in that environment than under a structured environment with referees.

On the improvement in Pau’s strength last season: Very late in the year, Pau made a comment to me that he’d done more weights (last year) than throughout his entire career combined. I laughed and said, ‘That means you’ve either really worked hard this year or it speaks to how little you did prior to this year,’ and we had a good time with that. But I give him all the credit in the world. He really made a decision dating back to June within hours after our disappointing loss to the Celtics two seasons ago, that he was going to dedicate himself to getting stronger. It was almost reminiscent of Michael Jordan making that kind of revelation in 1989-90 after getting thumped on by the Pistons for a few years, to be able to withstand those blows and play a more physical game. It was tough at first, because when Pau came back before training camp, we started out slow, as with a lot of athletes who haven’t done much of that kind of training. Sometimes we had to nudge him into the weight room, but after about a month or so when he started to see a result, he liked it, and it became less and less difficult to convince him to do that work as the season went on. He became a fan of it, and I give him all the credit, because no matter what is suggested, the athlete himself has to come in and dedicate the time and the energy. He worked hard, and he and the team reaped a lot of the benefits.

Schaefer: Derek is just such a delight to work with. He has a maturity and seriousness about him that I wish every player had, and he does a great job of sharing that professionalism with the younger guys. I’m knocking on wood that he goes another 82 (for the fifth-straight season), and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he did with his work ethic. He’s very good about re-inventing things, because he discovers things that he needs to develop each year – whether it’s core strength or flexibility in different years – and he’s completely dedicated from a sports nutrition standpoint. They don’t come any better than Derek.

Schaefer: Jordan’s been in and out this summer, having done some international travel that he’s kind of taken to in the last few years, and he’s still in the process of deciding what he most likes to do. When he first came in a few years ago, we had him on some traditional programs, and he may have gained Walton Deadlift some initial lean mass but decided he wanted to be quicker rather than stronger, so we changed his program accordingly, similar to Shannon’s. Jordan also discovered yoga a year or two ago, and really found that he likes that quite a bit. Those things aren’t too specific to the power and explosiveness associated with basketball, but they are very beneficial to him. One of the things with guys is they have to feel good about the program that they’re on. That’s where some of the art comes in, and why we have 13 or 14 different programs for 13 or 14 different guys, because otherwise they’re just going to go through the motions.

Schaefer: Luke’s been in and out of town, and we also communicate through voice mails and texts. He’s been playing some basketball in local gyms as well as hitting a track here and there, which I’m not necessarily a big fan of without him doing some of his core and prep work beforehand. But he's been in working with us this week and we're starting to get up to speed.

Schaefer: We do try and communicate with Andrew on almost a weekly basis. He did some international travel as well, but has created a base for himself to train in the offseason in Atlanta. He’s there right now, but we’re hoping to see him within a week or so. The reports that I have from Atlanta – I have a friend in the Hawks organization – are that he’s working hard and was just playing in their gym the other day. We’re hoping for big things for him this year.

Schaefer: D.J. loves to train and we know that he’s been with his Belgian National team. I’m sure between the demands of the National team and his passion for training, he’ll be reporting to camp in great shape.