Ryan Horn is the director of athletic performance for men’s basketball at Wake Forest University. He was invited as a guest on Keir Wenhams-Flatts’ podcast (Rugby Strength Coach Podcast #32). Ryan shares a lot of good information on how they implemented the kBox into their training program.
Here, Fredrik Correa shares his thoughts on the podcast:
I received a direct message from Ryan about this podcast being aired, and I am very thankful because I would have hated to miss this. I really enjoyed the whole podcast and even though Ryan talked about the kBox for 10 minutes straight, I’m not going to tell you when so you have to listen to the whole show (believe me it is worth it!) Ryan is very passionate and open by sharing many deep insights of their program and this can be very informative for S&Cs working in basketball or other team sports. Here is a summary of the talk and some of my own comments on what Ryan said. If you do not want any spoilers, listen to the podcast first and read the rest later.
Like many others, Ryan was introduced to the kBox by existing users, in this case, Carl Valle and Landon Evans. This is very common for our new customers and we are really grateful to everyone who is openly sharing their user experience of the kBox to others. Still, Ryan made a big leap investing in a product he never tried and we are glad it lived up to his expectations.
Ryan got his kBoxes just as in-season was going to start and he started conservatively so as not to get unnecessary fatigue. This is a very common question I get, how do you program and how do we deal with DOMS and fatigue? Just like what Ryan says on the show, he has not experienced much DOMS. The take-home message is that if you get started with the drills you are familiar with the transition, there is not much to worry about. Start with familiar drills, low volume and increase gradually over weeks, monitor your athletes acute and total load and you will be just fine. I have summarized the research on flywheel training and fatigue in another article earlier.
Ryan’s aim with the kBoxes was to address the lack of eccentric strength he saw in many of his athletes, “full gas and no brakes”, being very reactive and explosive but sometimes with much lesser ability to absorb or yield which increase the risks of injuries in landings for example. And while talking about jumping, eccentric strength seems to be a major factor for performance in the counter-movement jump, bigger than concentric strength as presented in this recent study.
On a more personal note, I enjoyed hearing how his aim with the kBoxes from the start was to be able to work with taller athletes, maybe get rid of some axial loading but as they started up and saw the results, the kBox has been incorporated more into the program. Today, the freshmen start with the kBox so they can gain strength immediately at the same time as they work on the movements with a barbell. Ryan also talks a bit on how they now get much fewer complaints on patellofemoral pain and less stiff lower backs and this is something we heard from many other users with general knee pain or meniscus problems. A pilot study on knee arthritis has also shown good outcomes and we hope for an RCT in this area in the future.
Another interesting thing is that his athletes seem to be less intimidated by the kBox compared to a heavily loaded barbell, and this is in a setting with very high-level athletes that really buy into the program and love being in the gym. So if your athletes do not have that much experience in the weight room but you need to improve their foundation of strength, kBox can be a really good tool for you to start with.
Ryan elaborates more on how they use different loadings and contractions modes (concentric, isometric, eccentric) through the seasons for different aims, speed, strength and so on. I like how they use the kMeter VBT metrics and drop off percentage function to keep quality and power high but volume lower in the in-season. Besides this function, you can also set time, reps or an absolute power threshold as a set limit. In our recent kMeter update we also incorporated power limits so you can set a power range and get vocal and graphic feedback if you go outside this range. Ultimately, all this to help you target the adaption you want.
I want to thank Ryan again for being so open with his program, I loved the whole podcast. I also want to thank all our other active users for their feedback and ideas that help us improve the kBox and the kMeter over the years.
p.s. If you really, really just want to hear the kBox part, it starts at 41:00 but it’s your loss if you skip the rest 😉
/Fredrik Correa, Head of Research & Development