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Peak Performance Training For Basketball:
a sensible guide to hoops strength and conditioning.   by Tom Emma

Albert Einstein once said that "things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler". By "simple", Einstein did not mean "easy"; instead, he envisioned a thoughtful, efficient and accurate simplicity -- no shortcuts. Good hoops players understand this concept and, in a related, but somewhat different way, apply it by striving to always make the toughest of hoops tasks look "simple" (conversely, poor players make simple hoops tasks look difficult). "Simplicity" on the court is often deceiving because most "simple" and effective plays are actually the result of intense preparation, practice and commitment -- and no shortcuts.

Tom Emma's recent book Peak Performance Training For Basketball, meets Einstein's definition of simplicity. Emma has taken a sizeable, and in many ways, complicated subject -- strength and conditioning for basketball -- and made it as simple as possible, but no simpler. Peak Performance is thorough, yet concise; technical, yet readable; and informative, yet entertaining. It provides a logical, easily-navigated roadmap that the mature player at any level can use to achieve top hoops fitness and physical efficiency. Importantly, Emma speaks from a player's perspective. He was a high school all-America guard in Manhasset, New York, and a starting point/shooting guard for Duke University under Coach K. He understands from personal experience the physical demands players encounter on the court and how those demands can be met in a basketball-specific strength and conditioning program. Fortunately for the reader, he conveys his material in a common sense, no "fluff" style.

I admit to some bias in my review. I was a teammate of Emma's at Duke. However, I believe that my bias is informing because I have first-hand knowledge of Emma's way of thinking and his basketball experience. Two of Emma's finest personal qualities---his uncanny ability to zero in on what is truly relevant (often with great wit and humor) and his uncommonly good sense--- shine through in Peak Performance and enhance its value. The Peak Performance approach to basketball strength and conditioning is so well organized and presented that I plan to incorporate its roadmap into my presentations on strength and conditioning this summer at Dave Devenzio's National Point Guard Camp.

What else makes this book a must read? First, it is truly and intelligently tailored to basketball players. For example, the discussion of energy systems and recovery times, as well as the treatment of movement training (speed, quickness and agility) emphasize that basketball is a game of explosive, powerful bursts of energy that are uneven in intensity and duration and that trigger and quickly draw down the relevant energy systems (mostly anaerobic). Peak Performance points out that unlike football (where the average play lasts only around 8 seconds) or track (where 100 yards is covered in around 10 seconds), basketball requires conditioning that pushes the outer limits of anaerobic capacity because an intense, full-speed basketball exchange can last for several minutes and alternate wildly among methods of exertion (sprinting, jumping, blocking out, diving for a loose ball, maintaining a defensive stance). Peak Performance recognizes the unique nature of these demands and provides a conditioning program to meet them. Perhaps just as important is that Peak Performance understands the flow of the game and its relevance to realistic recovery times. In terms of energy burn rates, Peak Performance makes clear that work to rest ratios are crucial in any well-constructed (particularly anaerobic) training routine. The goal is to have efficient enough energy and recovery systems to capitalize on game- like recovery opportunities (which may be only 10-15 seconds in the case of getting the ball back into play after a turnover) as efficiently as possible. Peak Performance provides a realistic blueprint for achieving this crucial level of basketball conditioning.

Second, the book communicates well that even though strength training and conditioning are now universally viewed as important components of overall player improvement, they are, indeed, only a component part of a larger strategy to become a better basketball player. Thus, Peak Performance suggests a reasonable program that will improve a player's strength and conditioning without limiting (through time or fatigue) other important components of player development.

Finally, Peak Performance doesn't offer up any "snake oil" solutions. No magic pills, strap-on devices, or cosmic affirmations that will instantly add 10 inches to your vertical jump and cut a half second off your time in the 40. Indeed, Peak Performance not only avoids such shortcuts, but also freely concedes that some aspects of this program require a lot of hard work, and may actually cause a touch of discomfort here and there! Athletes who don't like that sort of straight talk probably shouldn't buy this book; but the serious athlete seeking a sensible, logical, and thoughtful guide for enhancing basketball strength and conditioning, should reserve some space on the bookshelf for Peak Performance Training For Basketball.

Click here to order Peak Performance Training For Basketball

Visit Tom's Power Performance website for more information or contact him by the information below.

Power Performance
P.O. Box 1044
Manhasset, New York 11030 USA

Ordering Information


Reviewer: Richard L. Ford
Asst. Director, Dave Devenzio's National Point Guard Camp



 Dave Devenzio's National Point Guard Camp

533 Warrendale Road
Mars, PA 16046
919.680.3974

Take the opportunity to see Tom's performance training techniques put to use at a one of the better summer camps out there. Richard Ford is the assistant director of Dave Devenzio's National Point Guard Camp. This national camp has 8 locations throughout the United States for the summer of 2003 and is in it's second season. Dave Devenzio is the brother of the late, great Dick Devenzio. Dave has a very personal motivation for making the NPGC a success. "I was very lucky to have a brother like Dick. I remember when he started teaching me things in the fourth grade. Many times back then I did not care to hear his instruction, but I always realized what a tremendous focus he had. Growing up he taught me about basketball. As we got older, he taught me about life. At the end, he taught me about death. What more could I ask of a brother who also happened to be my best friend? One of my goals in life is to keep his legacy alive. It seems like the least I can do."


Our thanks to Human Kinetics for sending us some excellent coaching books. You can't beat the price, less than $20.

Buy it, today!


Excellent video with thoughts and drills on organizing your practices. Learn from one of the greatest coaches of the game, Coach "K".
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"My son's high school coach gave him a copy of the book and he read it in two days. Now he is leading the effort to get himself a scholarship. The book is inspiring and effective for high school athletes."
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