Pacers Around the House with Shawn Windle
Sept 29, 2011
Shawn: Thank you for having me.
Eddie: Well, glad to have you. Shawn Windle is our head strength and conditioning coach and assistant athletic trainer, right? I got the title right?
Eddie: And you grew up back East, you went to a small university in Maine, a little school?
Shawn: The University of Maine at Presque Isle, a very small school in the northern part of the state.
Eddie: And you were a basketball star there?
Shawn: Well, star, yeah, yeah, something like that.
Eddie: Okay, well, you played basketball there?
Shawn: Yeah, I played basketball.
Eddie: Okay, there we go. And then you worked at the University of Connecticut, whose coach is pretty gosh darn good, the program's pretty good.
Shawn: Yeah, we we're pretty good there.
Eddie: And you worked at Rutgers?
Eddie: Why are all these Jersey people from Rutgers coming out to Indiana? We've got a couple of Rutgers players on the Fever, we’ve got you, the Colts got Gary Brackett; Rutgers has got some kind of a subway connection to Indianapolis.
Shawn: Well, have you spent any time New Jersey?
Eddie: Yes, I have.
Shawn: Well, you can see why people escape then.
Eddie: [Laughs] I love it. Okay, I want to get to some serious stuff here. First of all, I should congratulate you because you are the president -- I'm going to get this right -- the president of the NBA's National Strength and Conditioning Association?
Shawn: Specifically, our title is the National Basketball Strength and Conditioning Association. There are some naming issues, you know, the NBA using their exact name, but National Basketball Strength and Conditioning Association. I was elected president this year, I served as the treasurer and the secretary for the previous two years, and was one of the people that started the group.
Eddie: So, do I need to call you Mr. President?
Shawn: Yes. Keep that straight.
Eddie: Okay, Mr. President. The NBA every year sends a group of coaches over to China to work with the Chinese Basketball Association. I want you to tell me a little more about the academy, but the big news is that for the first time ever, they decided to send a strength and conditioning coach, and they picked the president, you, the big kahuna. So tell me first about the Chinese Basketball Academy or Association, and all that stuff.
Shawn: For the Chinese Basketball Association, they hold this clinic every year, and they send NBA coaches over there to lecture to, this was mid-level coaches. When you're growing up in China, they identify who the athletes are, and you can either go to a regular high school and go the education track, for lack of a better term, or you can go to a sports academy. So, they've identified which basketball players have potential and can be part of their national team. The coaches that I was lecturing to, they were all coaches of, for our equivalent, it would be roughly like AAU basketball.
Eddie: So, these are their crème de la crème coaches coaching their crème de la crème talent?
Shawn: Yeah, there were about 40 to 50 coaches there, and they came from all over the region. I was in Wuhan, China, and it's a pretty big area, bigger than New York City.
Eddie: This is the first time the league decided to send somebody [like you] over, was that a request made by the Chinese basketball people?
Shawn: Yes. The Chinese had requested more strength and conditioning, or some strength and conditioning, and nutrition. Like everybody, they have fallen into the habit of going to [eat] fast food after games, and they really wanted to learn more about how their athletes can perform through nutrition and strength and conditioning.
It was a three-day lecture, three hours each day. I had two days on strength and conditioning, and court work and agility, and one day was on nutrition.
Eddie: Were the questions, or the feedback, you got from the people that you were lecturing to, was it similar to what you would get if you were lecturing here in Indianapolis, or New York, or did they ask different questions?
Shawn: The questions were pretty similar. It was the equivalent of talking to a high school coach. They're a one-man operation at that level, the head coach is also doing their strength training and all their jump training. Anything involved with the basketball team, the head coach is the guy that's implementing it all, so they were pretty eager to learn ways that they could help their athletes.
Eddie: Now, when I was in China, you were in China, with the Pacers. All these people, they seem healthy. I mean, they're riding bicycles everywhere, so they gotta be in shape, right? They're doing the Tai Chi, that thing where they're out in the morning they're going like [does hand movements and makes noises]. And then, while they're doing the Tai Chi, and they're doing the bicycle, they're smoking Marlboro's like crazy. Did you talk to them about that, say, 'Hey, you gotta cut the cigarettes out'?
Shawn: We had a break -- we'd break every hour or so during the lecture -- and I would go out, if I had to use the restroom or something, and there's a group of coaches, 10 or 15 coaches, smoking cigarettes. It was unbelievable.
Eddie: You couldn't tell them, "Hey, don't do that"?
Shawn: Well, there was a little bit of a language barrier. I didn't have the translator beside me.
Eddie: I was going to say, did most of them speak English, or no?
Shawn: Their English is, it would be like us taking a second language growing up in high school -- they're taught English from kindergarten, but their levels of understanding and communicating would be like . . . I took Spanish three years in high school, and I can say the basics, I can say 'school' in Spanish and a few words. Most of them are like that, but some people were pretty good, and I had a translator with me the whole time that able to communicate what I was saying.
Eddie: So, it's not exactly like you trying to teach the people here in Indiana how to speak New England language, like 'ah,' 'mahket,' 'pahket,' all that stuff?
Shawn: Yeah. Right, right.
Eddie: Okay, I gotcha.
What's the number one challenge to a strength and conditioning coach, or to those coaches, they hear your wisdom, what do you think is their number one challenge going forward? You've left, you've come back here, and they've got to take what you've told them and work, what do you think they're greatest challenge is going to be?
Shawn: Well, I think two things. One is their resources -- what they have available versus what we have available, just in terms of what equipment they have, and the size of their weight room. I was at their Olympic training center, one of their regional Olympic training centers, doing this lecture, and I was touring their weight room, and it's just vastly different. They've put a lot of nice equipment in there, but it wasn't necessarily suited for training basketball players. So, I showed them some things that they can do specifically on a court, or with a towel, or just with a plate, you know, a weight plate. So, [the challenge will be]for them to kind of shift their mindset, and to do some basketball-specific things, because [their weight room] looked like a general fitness center -- if you walked into Lifetime Fitness here, it looked something like that.
And then the other part of it is that they are a one-man show, and they're trying to implement these things. They're worried about getting them to perform better, and how they're shooting; there's just so many different areas that they're in charge of that strength and conditioning kind of falls down towards the bottom of the list in the order of their day. So, I think for them, finding time, making time is going to be a challenge.
Eddie: You know, most of my years of expertise, if I have any expertise, was in football, with the Dolphins and all that stuff, and somewhere along the lines the NFL made the switch. In the old days, you just hit the weight room, you know, it was all weights, weights, weights. Now, guys are working with guys -- stretching them and doing stuff, and kind of the weights are [over] there. It's kind of moved into that. That has to be the condition part of 'strength and conditioning' . . . I guess my question is, what's the percentage, how much do you do with the weights and how much is with the other stuff?
Shawn: I'd say it's probably a 50-50 plan, but it depends on the player. If we have a guy that really needs to gain weight, or gain strength, he's going to have a lot more emphasis in the weight room. But then there are guys that are pretty big and pretty strong and maybe they're not quick-footed. So, we're going to spend more time on the court doing agility drills, and working on other areas rather than just strength and conditioning. But everybody is going to lift some weights, and usually it's around 50-50.
Eddie: Our audience on 'Around the House' is growing by millions, we have an international fan club, Facebook, it’s unbelievable. A lot of kids tune in to listen, and there may be somebody that's checking this thing out saying, 'I wanna do that. You know, I was an average player, but I love a sport, whether it's football, basketball, baseball, whatever, I want to get in and be a strength and conditioning guru, an expert, like you.' What advice do you have for that young person that would like to make this their life?
Shawn: They need to volunteer. They need to get into as many environments of being in a weight room as they possibly can. I accept interns every semester, and so people come in that want to be in my position, and they learn from me. Or, it's going to Indiana University or Notre Dame and saying, 'Hey, look, I want to be a strength coach some day. I just need some experience, I need to be in the environment, and I want to see what you do.' Most strength coaches are pretty happy to have a free volunteer. That's really how you start to build you resume up, get exposure, see different things, and meet other coaches and network. It's not any different than any other field -- it's about making contacts with people.
Eddie: You like challenges?
Shawn: Uh, yeah.
Eddie: Okay. I got this guy I know [points to himself] -- fat guy, old. Can you help me lose weight?
Shawn: Uh, looking at you, probably not.
Eddie: Okay. Well, show's over.
Hey, thanks so much for coming by. And thanks so much for representing not only the NBA and your field, but representing the Pacers, globally, over in China. To be the first one, that's pretty gosh darn good. Not only is that a good reflection on you, it's a good reflection on the organization. So, good job.
Shawn: Yeah, it was great.
Eddie: I still wish you'd help me lose some weight.
Hey, check him out, will you? And if you're interested in the field, send him an email, or something like that. You're going to have 9,000 interns now.
Shawn: That'd be great.
Eddie: There you go.