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Thread: Raptors' health. Chance or designed by McKechnie?

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    Raptors Republic All-Star stooley's Avatar
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    Default Raptors' health. Chance or designed by McKechnie?

    From today's ESPN article (insider! sorry):

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story...aining-methods

    In the NBA, 10 teams have bought in, including the Mavericks, Spurs, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.
    Shaq called him "The Resurrector." Most NBA folks know him as the "Silver Fox." The white-haired former training guru for the Los Angeles Lakers, Alex McKechnie, is currently the Toronto Raptors' assistant coach and head of sports science. To kick off his 13-year tenure in LakerLand, McKechnie rebuilt Shaq in 1998 after the mammoth center shredded his abdominal muscles in a Lakers preseason game. McKechnie revitalized Shaq's career by focusing on strengthening the 7-foot-1, 315-pound monster's core and is credited with doing the same to resolve Pau Gasol's back issues that plagued him for years in Memphis.

    But during the 2011 lockout, the Lakers let McKechnie go as part of their organizational decision to cut payroll. Months later, McKechnie joined the Raptors to head up their training department. And now in 2013-14, the 42-32 Raptors rank as one of the biggest surprise teams in the league. Looking to explain the Raps' unlikely rise?

    Start with this fact: The Raptors have suffered the NBA's fewest missed games due to injury this season. Under McKechnie's watch, the Raptors have lost just 46 games due to health and a total of 826 minutes, according to Insider Kevin Pelton's injury database. That's almost 200 fewer minutes than the next-healthiest team, the Pacers.

    The Raptors have enjoyed a successful season with players who by and large have remained healthy.
    Not coincidentally, the Lakers rank 29th with five times as many games lost and about eight times as many minutes. Contrast that with McKechnie's final season in Los Angeles, where seven players played 82 games and six of them were over the age of 30 (Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown).

    As you might have guessed, McKechnie got on board with Catapult two years ago and has reaped the benefits of its predictive analytics. Rather than react to injuries, McKechnie does everything he can to prevent them from happening. The Catapult stream line of data helps McKechnie detect when a player's body becomes overloaded. The player's posture degenerates, the weaker body parts become vulnerable and he begins to wear down. When players start to overcompensate in fatigue, that's when the soft-tissue injuries -- the hamstring pulls, abdominal tears and back spasms -- tend to occur.

    "We do constant recording of information," McKechnie says. "The most interesting part to me is the ability to identify breakdown of movement. I can identify the volume of a player movement left and right for example, the acuteness of the movement and whether they can generate force and power through that movement in a particular direction. In some cases, it's much more dominant in one side than the other."

    McKechnie tells a story about a key player's development during this season's training camp. After examining a printout of each player's directional loads on offense, McKechnie noticed that the young player moved to his left 40 percent of the time while only going right 19 percent. After asking around, none of the coaching staff picked it up with their own naked eye. So McKechnie went upstairs in the Raptors' training facility, hooked the player up with a Catapult device and went through a standard workout.

    What he found was fascinating. After consulting the charts, he found it wasn't that the player was simply more skilled going left; the Catapult data showed his muscle strength was categorically imbalanced. The player was unable to match the intensity levels moving left as he did going right. Turns out the player had suffered a soft-tissue injury years ago that was never properly healed. The player knew it, but tried to hide it.

    The data brought it to light. So McKechnie brought the Catapult findings to his coaching staff and they've worked with the player to not only strengthen his core muscles, but to level out his on-court game. Five months later, the same report showed that the player now moves 33 percent to his right, almost twice as often. The data helped add a new dimension, a fresh weapon to the player's arsenal. "This is especially true when you're coming off an injury," McKechnie. "The ability to see if a player can elevate the volume of the intensity of movement through low, medium and high intensity levels is essential to what we do. In some cases, the player can't get there, can't hide it. So once you identify that, it can change everything."
    And from Casey (he's not a dinosaur!):

    In a normal shooting drill, the intensity of movement is the constant jumping," McKechnie says. "But it's not the actual jumping action that concerns us, it's the deceleration loads in the landing process. That breaks down the muscle groups. After a game, we'd shoot the very next day, but our players couldn't get out of the low intensity level. Actually, the shooting workout was feeding into dysfunction as opposed to helping the player."

    After observing this phenomenon, McKechnie then worked with the coaching staff to reduce shooting drills and to alleviate the wear and tear on practice days, especially the day following game action. Raptors coach Dwane Casey was all ears. And his belief in McKechnie and his scientific methods hasn't frayed.

    "It all starts with Alex," Casey says. "He's one of the best in the league as far as rehab, preventative training and staying ahead of the curve. And not only after guys get hurt, but before they get hurt to maintain their core strength and avoid a lot of things that hamper guys during the season."

    Casey isn't new to integrating modern medicine and coaching. He worked under Cuban as an assistant coach under Rick Carlisle during the Mavs' championship season in 2011.

    "'Cubes,' I know he was huge into that preventative training, making sure he took care of his assets," Casey says, "And Alex is kind of ahead of the curve. He does a great job. He's maintained it, knock on wood. Believe me, luck is a big part of the NBA."
    Last edited by stooley; Thu Apr 3rd, 2014 at 04:06 PM.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star slaw's Avatar
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    Nice find.

    There is obviously an element of luck to keeping a roster healthy. For example, you can't stop what happened to Lowry with running into Lebron and you can't make Amir stop landing on other players' feet. Having said that, when a team has a recurring history of injuries you have to question whether it is doing enough to try and prevent them. Good to see the Raptors are at least trying to find the best people and techniques available.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star stooley's Avatar
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    Quote slaw wrote: View Post
    Nice find.

    There is obviously an element of luck to keeping a roster healthy. For example, you can't stop what happened to Lowry with running into Lebron and you can't make Amir stop landing on other players' feet. Having said that, when a team has a recurring history of injuries you have to question whether it is doing enough to try and prevent them. Good to see the Raptors are at least trying to find the best people and techniques available.
    Yep, they mentioned that:

    "You can never predict injury, but you can certainly predict breakdown and hopefully prevent it by identifying the risk factors." McKechnie says. "But you can't necessarily control the trauma. I can't control someone turning his ankle, banging knees or taking a hard elbow. But it's on us to prevent soft tissue injuries. That's under our control to a certain degree."

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Great thread.

    I've been thinking about this of late.

    Here is a thread with a lot of articles when he was hired.

    http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/forum...ight=Mckechnie

    Another move Colangelo deserves credit for, btw. If only one or two of his big swings paid off like so many of his little ones - lol
    "Championships are what we live for, now lets go win them."
    Tim Leiweke

    Basketball has clear winners every night --
    except at the draft, which is all homework, politics and chance.

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    Raptors Republic All-Star Primer's Avatar
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    Fascinating. Love that the Raptors have the worlds top strength and conditioning expert.

    If any of you are interested in using these techniques on yourself, check out the book "Becoming a Supple Leopard" by Dr. Kelly Starrett. Using his exercises and techniques has completely changed my athletic life. I sprained my left ACL years ago and that knee has always felt wonky and prevented me from doing too much leg work or running. I started using the techniques in his book and now my knee feels near 100%, and I know I'm using correct form so I hopefully wont injure it again.

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    Aren't the Raps also one of the few teams in the league, that invested into some crazy expensive cold tubs or something for players after the games?

    I remember reading that somewhere, only a few teams in the leagues have adopted it because it's so expensive?

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    Super Moderator thead's Avatar
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    you might be thinking of cryo chambers. I can't confirm that the raptors have that but I do remember something about it being mentioned

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    Raptors Republic Hall of Famer mcHAPPY's Avatar
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    Quote thead wrote: View Post
    you might be thinking of cryo chambers. I can't confirm that the raptors have that but I do remember something about it being mentioned
    Whooot there it is

    http://www.raptorsrepublic.com/forum...ogenic+chamber
    "Championships are what we live for, now lets go win them."
    Tim Leiweke

    Basketball has clear winners every night --
    except at the draft, which is all homework, politics and chance.

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