Strength and Motivation
Q+A with Alan Stein: World-renowned basketball strength and conditioning coach.
The state of the game of basketball in the US has many bright spots and a growing number of concerns. There are more outlets and opportunities for players to improve their game here in the US than any other corner of the globe, but many feel that players aren’t taking advantage of these opportunities. The AAU/Summer Circuit can be extremely valuable to players, it provides them with exposure to colleges at every level as well as scouting and media outlets. It also gives players the opportunity to compete against some of the best players in the country. Just like there are positives and negatives in summer basketball, the same rules apply to skill development and strength/conditioning coaches.
Many skill development and strength coaches cater to top players and only tell them what they want to hear. They tend to coddle them by failing to point out any weaknesses in their game. There are also plenty of great guys who convey a positive message to players but aren’t afraid to provide constructive criticism. One of those guys is Alan Stein.
Stein is a world-renowned, basketball-specific strength and conditioning coach. He constantly pumps out a positive and inspiring message for players and coaches on how to improve mentally and physically. Stein is the owner of Stronger Team, a basketball-specific strength and conditioning company that provides individual and team training along with a wide variety of other products. He is a highly regarded camp clinician and motivational speaker.
Stein wears many other hats as well. He is the head strength and conditioning coach at national powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School. Stein also serves as a performance consultant for Nike, as well as the head conditioning coach for the annual Jordan Brand All-American Classic and the Nike Summer Skills Academies. Alan is a Camp Coach at the prestigious NBA Players Association’s Top 100 Camp as well as the Chris Paul CP3 Elite Backcourt Camp. Alan is the former strength and conditioning coach for the McDonald’s All-American game.
He has individually trained players such as Kevin Durant, Greivis Vasquez, Ty Lawson, Michael Beasley, Stephen Curry, Wes Matthews and many others. Stein has also worked alongside some of the biggest names in basketball during the summer months including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Deron Williams, Amar’e Stoudemire, Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant.
Stein is also a social media machine. He is always sending out useful tips and providing motivation to some of the game’s best players and coaches. He has built a large and loyal following on several social media platforms, especially Twitter (follow him: @AlanStein). Stein has taken full advantage of social media and used it to build strong relationships with basketball players and coaches across the world.
SLAMonline had a chance to talk with Alan and get his thoughts on everything from how he got his start to the current state of basketball.
SLAM: How did you get your start?
Alan Stein: Basketball has been my first love since I was in first grade. I played at Watkins Mill HS (Gaithersburg, MD—1994) and at Elon College (Burlington, NC—1998… now Elon University). I took a strong interest in performance enhancement as a sophomore in high school and was fascinated by ways to improve my athleticism, conditioning, etc.
SLAM: Did you know that you wanted to get into this profession from an early age or was it something that came about later in life?
AS: Not exactly. I knew I wanted to be a coach and I knew I wanted to be around the game of basketball, but there weren’t very many ‘basketball strength and conditioning coaches’ when I was in college. I just stuck with my passion and one thing ended up leading to another!
SLAM: What fueled you to go into the basketball strength and conditioning business head first?
AS: My passion for three things: basketball, performance enhancement, and having a positive impact on young people.
SLAM: I know you are around a lot of high-end high school, college and pro players. Do you feel the work ethic/drive of players today has changed for better or worse? If so, what do you think is causing these changes?
AS: At the risk of sounding like an old man (which I am not, I am 35 years old), I do think many kids today feel entitled and don’t feel they need to EARN their own success. Youth basketball has grown tremendously in the past 15-20 years and has become a huge business. Young kids are being deemed ‘the next big thing’ at early ages. It is hard for young kids to stay hungry and humble when everyone enables them, gives them whatever they want and constantly tells them how great they are. Plus, kids today have so many more options and distractions that can prevent them from working on their game as much as they should. I certainly don’t want to sound negative—that is just a trend I see with a select few.
SLAM: Many people feel that, in general, high school players don’t spend enough time with skill development and strength training/conditioning. Do you agree/disagree with this?
AS: I absolutely, 100 percent agree. A large majority of players just play games all year long. And many of those that do train… don’t have the proper guidance. They are either too cool/too casual about working out… or they are working on the wrong things in the wrong way. Training MUST be purposeful, intense and progressive!
SLAM: What are your thoughts on the state of the game of basketball today? AAU/summer circuit? High school (in season)? College? NBA?
AS: I love the game of basketball and I am the eternal optimist… so I choose to see the good in everything. Basketball is growing in popularity all over the globe. There are so many more opportunities for players at every level to play. Personally, I would like to see much more of an emphasis on proper, purposeful training (both skill work and strength and conditioning) at the youth and high school levels. But I love college/NBA basketball!
SLAM: Do you think any changes need to be made to improve high school, AAU, college or pro basketball?
AS: AAU: I would like to see fewer events overall and have a few windows (one month in the spring, summer and fall) where there are not events so kids will be ‘forced’ to work out and train.
HS: I would like to see a shot clock (some states/conferences have them) and a REAL National Championship.
College: Nothing, I love college basketball!
NBA: No changes. Just end the lockout!
SLAM: You have an excellent grasp on social media. You always pump out positive/inspiring information that is useful to coaches, players and others in the basketball community. How has your use of social media allowed you to grow your business and build new relationships?
AS: I have embraced social media from the beginning and love it. It gives me the opportunity to connect with players and coaches all over the world—people I would probably not ever get a chance to meet in person. If used right, social media is a tremendous platform to LEARN and to SHARE. One of my chief responsibilities is to have a positive impact on those I work with and social media allows me to do that, in small ways, 24-7.
SLAM: What are some things that we can look for from you and Stronger Team in the near future?
AS: Right now we offer a ton of DVDs and downloads in our online shop. But we have a lot of big things coming up in ’12-13. A series of apps, a weekly podcast, an online TV channel, website gamification, a basketball strength and conditioning coach certification and Stronger Team apparel. There is no exact timeline on the release dates yet.