T Nation

Explain Weak Elite Athletes

I’ve always wondered why some players who look weak or even are weak excel and some who look extremely strong are just role players.

For example, in the pre-draft testing Kevin Durant, likely the 2nd pick of this year’s NBA draft, couldn’t even do one bench press rep at 185 and he weighs around 220! Or Derek Fisher has a chiseled physique but isn’t one-tenth the basketball player Vince Carter is even though Carter looks much softer.

Clearly strength is important for basketball but somehow it doesn’t translate into performance as straightforwardly as i would have expected. Why is this?

Have you ever played a game of basketball?

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:

For example, in the pre-draft testing Kevin Durant, likely the 2nd pick of this year’s NBA draft, couldn’t even do one bench press rep at 185 and he weighs around 220! [/quote]

where did you see this??

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
I’ve always wondered why some players who look weak or even are weak excel and some who look extremely strong are just role players.

For example, in the pre-draft testing Kevin Durant, likely the 2nd pick of this year’s NBA draft, couldn’t even do one bench press rep at 185 and he weighs around 220! Or Derek Fisher has a chiseled physique but isn’t one-tenth the basketball player Vince Carter is even though Carter looks much softer.

Clearly strength is important for basketball but somehow it doesn’t translate into performance as straightforwardly as i would have expected. Why is this?[/quote]

Sure strength is important in basketball, but basketball skill is WAY more important than being strong.

Durant is not an elite athlete. He is a very talented kid who has a lot of potential to become an elite athlete. He’s 18 years old and he trains Basketball. That is what he occupies his time with, not weight training, which is auxiliary at best, and also something he probably hasn’t been doing for very long.

But even that aside, the dude is almost 7 feet tall. I don’t know if you are aware of this but as you get taller, especially when your arms are longer in relation to your height(most basketball players) Benching becomes that much more difficult. You have to do more work for the same or lesser results as someone with shorter arms would be doing.

In other words, for someone with such long arms to seriously improve on the bench, they have to put in a lot more dedicated effort to improving their bench, which is simply not a high priority for a dedicated Basketball player.

As for Fisher and Carter, you don’t know their numbers for any lifts, so comparing them on appearance alone is kind of pointless.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Have you ever played a game of basketball?[/quote]

Only for the past fifteen years. Why do you ask? Are you claiming strength doesn’t matter in basketball?

[quote]Malevolence wrote:
Durant is not an elite athlete. He is a very talented kid who has a lot of potential to become an elite athlete. He’s 18 years old and he trains Basketball. That is what he occupies his time with, not weight training, which is auxiliary at best, and also something he probably hasn’t been doing for very long.

But even that aside, the dude is almost 7 feet tall. I don’t know if you are aware of this but as you get taller, especially when your arms are longer in relation to your height(most basketball players) Benching becomes that much more difficult. You have to do more work for the same or lesser results as someone with shorter arms would be doing.

In other words, for someone with such long arms to seriously improve on the bench, they have to put in a lot more dedicated effort to improving their bench, which is simply not a high priority for a dedicated Basketball player.

As for Fisher and Carter, you don’t know their numbers for any lifts, so comparing them on appearance alone is kind of pointless. [/quote]
Yeah, I know about arm length affecting benching but it’s still amazing to me that an NBA athlete can’t even press 70% of his body weight.

Rate of force developement seems to be more important than stegnth in many sports.

Some guys are just “naturally athletic” and may or may not be able to show it in the weight room, whereas they excel on the field/court/mat or whatever.

Some guys are the opposite, “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane”. It just depends on the individual and the physical qualities/attributes the posess.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
Have you ever played a game of basketball?

Only for the past fifteen years. Why do you ask? Are you claiming strength doesn’t matter in basketball?[/quote]

No. Strength makes you a better basketball player. But I’m quite surprised that you are surprised there isn’t a stronger correlation. There are so many more important things when it comes to being a top basketball player.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
Have you ever played a game of basketball?

Only for the past fifteen years. Why do you ask? Are you claiming strength doesn’t matter in basketball?[/quote]

Upperbody strength has very little effect on how high you jump or how fast you run.

[quote]Eielson wrote:
Bonn1997 wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
Have you ever played a game of basketball?

Only for the past fifteen years. Why do you ask? Are you claiming strength doesn’t matter in basketball?

Upperbody strength has very little effect on how high you jump or how fast you run. [/quote]

Or your ability to throw an orange ball through a hoop. Or the speed of your hands. Or your agility. Or your ability to take an orange ball away from someone else while he bounces it. Or your ability to bounce an orange ball quickly and without losing control of it.

I dont the the obsession with the bench press. Why aren’t powerlifters tested for their one mile time?

Someone can be strong but not test well in a particular lift if they don’t do that activity on a regular basis. The body has to learn movement patterns. Until the body learns to efficiently use one’s strength in a particular exercise, they may test weak even though the muscles may be strong. Of course, if you get fouled in basketball they don’t make you do bench presses to get points. The body adapts to do what you train it to do.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
Malevolence wrote:
Durant is not an elite athlete. He is a very talented kid who has a lot of potential to become an elite athlete. He’s 18 years old and he trains Basketball. That is what he occupies his time with, not weight training, which is auxiliary at best, and also something he probably hasn’t been doing for very long.

But even that aside, the dude is almost 7 feet tall. I don’t know if you are aware of this but as you get taller, especially when your arms are longer in relation to your height(most basketball players) Benching becomes that much more difficult. You have to do more work for the same or lesser results as someone with shorter arms would be doing.

In other words, for someone with such long arms to seriously improve on the bench, they have to put in a lot more dedicated effort to improving their bench, which is simply not a high priority for a dedicated Basketball player.

As for Fisher and Carter, you don’t know their numbers for any lifts, so comparing them on appearance alone is kind of pointless.
Yeah, I know about arm length affecting benching but it’s still amazing to me that an NBA athlete can’t even press 70% of his body weight.
[/quote]

You are buffering his status. He is barely an NBA athlete. He is an 18 year old kid with a future in the NBA. But you can’t exactly call him an NBA athlete(or an ‘elite’ athlete for that regard). If he had never been scooped up by the draft, he would just be some talented basketball player at some high school and no one would care either way if he could or couldn’t bench his body weight.

There shouldn’t be anything surprising about someone who dedicates their time to baskeball and not weight training being unable to bench their body weight, especially when that person is only 18, and when that person is so lanky.

It’s just not that surprising to me. But then, when I Was 18 years old very few of my peers were benching anywhere close to 180.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Have you ever played a game of basketball?[/quote]

Everyone please read the above sentence. Strength in the weight room does not have much to do with the game of basketball. Lifting weights can give an edge to players who are on the fence as far as having the skill to play in the NBA. If two players have about the same skill level and one is stronger, especially a post player, this player may have an edge.

Kevin Durant tore up elite college athletes. Kevin Durant is an elite athlete.

Athletes that are 6’10" and up, can run, jump, shoot, dribble, pass, understand the game, and have the desire to play, along with being physically strong in the weight room do not exist. There are none of these people on the planet. Anywhere. There have never been. As you get taller having all these qualities becomes less and less likely to the point where it is almost never seen. The closest is Lebron James, who is the tallest explosive coordinated athlete I have ever seen.

There was a kid who played for Tennessee a few years back. Marcus Haislip. 6’10" 230 or so, maybe a bit bigger. 405 lb bench. 40 inch vertical. No longer in the League. It defies comprehension that this guy is probably the best physical specimen in the league and cannot play in it. But thats the way it is.

http://216.239.51.104/search?q=cache:7vjWuj9UJO4J:www.nbadraft.net/profiles/marcushaislip.htm+marcus+haislip&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=us

[quote]shadyniner wrote:
Bonn1997 wrote:
I’ve always wondered why some players who look weak or even are weak excel and some who look extremely strong are just role players.

For example, in the pre-draft testing Kevin Durant, likely the 2nd pick of this year’s NBA draft, couldn’t even do one bench press rep at 185 and he weighs around 220! Or Derek Fisher has a chiseled physique but isn’t one-tenth the basketball player Vince Carter is even though Carter looks much softer.

Clearly strength is important for basketball but somehow it doesn’t translate into performance as straightforwardly as i would have expected. Why is this?

Sure strength is important in basketball, but basketball skill is WAY more important than being strong.

[/quote]
How do you distinguish the two? What basketball skills don’t require strength? (“Basketball skills” sounds a bit vague to me and it’s hard for me to picture it not overlapping at all with strength.)

The truth is that gifted, skilled, and fast athletes get a lot more out of weight training than the lesser skilled but stronger folks. You can make a slower, stronger guy bigger, faster, and stronger, but he still will be less skilled and less athletic.

The natural athlete gets stronger faster, and from that even faster and more durable. The average guy makes himself competitive, the good athlete makes himself great.

The benches of lots of D1 teams are filled with the strongest guy on the team.

I play intramural co-ed soccer. There is a particular woman that is not strong, fast, or powerful in anyway. Despite this she is one of the best players, better than most of the guys – because she is ACCURATE. She can send the ball wherever she likes.

IF she were stronger, faster, and more powerful she would be even better – those things would enhance her natural talent.

That is the role of strength training – to magnify existing skill/talent.

Damn it, Damn it, Damn it, Damn it!!!

I’ve been trying to increase my damn strength for YEARS thinking it would make me a better basketball player, and now you guys are telling me that my bench won’t get me a starting position on a college team?!!!

WTF??!!

I knew I had a little disadvantage, being a bit slow, uncoordinated, only 5’5", and kinda fat with about 5 hours of basketball practice in the last 15 years, but damn, all I thought I had to do was get stronger first, then I’d be a shoe-in.

Damn misinformation.

[quote]Bonn1997 wrote:
shadyniner wrote:
Bonn1997 wrote:
I’ve always wondered why some players who look weak or even are weak excel and some who look extremely strong are just role players.

For example, in the pre-draft testing Kevin Durant, likely the 2nd pick of this year’s NBA draft, couldn’t even do one bench press rep at 185 and he weighs around 220! Or Derek Fisher has a chiseled physique but isn’t one-tenth the basketball player Vince Carter is even though Carter looks much softer.

Clearly strength is important for basketball but somehow it doesn’t translate into performance as straightforwardly as i would have expected. Why is this?

Sure strength is important in basketball, but basketball skill is WAY more important than being strong.

How do you distinguish the two? What basketball skills require no strength?
[/quote]

What kind of basketball do you play?

If you have played for 15 years you should know a big bench has nothing to do with dribbling, passing, shooting etc. etc. etc.

[quote]Shadowzz4 wrote:
There was a kid who played for Tennessee a few years back. Marcus Haislip. 6’10" 230 or so, maybe a bit bigger. 405 lb bench. [/quote]

I read the link, but I would have to see that to believe it. I have never seen a 6’10, relatively skinny person (at that weight and pic) bench that much.

Actually, just looked him up and now I know it is BS. He managed 185x15 reps at his testing, only a serious injury could have caused that drop. He also says he squats 585 which we all know is BS for a 6’10 basketball player. Moral of the story is don’t believe a lot of “personal reporting” from non-strength athletes