New strength coach Anderson enjoys thinking “outside the box”

  • 06/12/2015 11:12 am in

There’s a new face in charge of Indiana’s strength and conditioning program. And with the change, IU’s returning players and newcomers are likely to experience some training methods for the first time.

Lyonel Anderson, a former tight end for Kansas who has spent time with the Denver Broncos, Youngstown State football, IU football and University of Houston football, is excited to put his own mark on the program.

Among those methods, some of which have already been started as IU’s returning players began working with Anderson this week, are hot yoga, elevation training masks and training in a sand pit.

“Just different ways to skin a cat,” the enthusiastic Anderson said on Thursday in the weight room in Cook Hall. “I’m just the guy doing it with a creative mind. I think outside the box and I’m just attacking it every day.”

When listening to Anderson share his vision and goals for the program and watching snippets of workouts this week IU posted on its snapchat account, it’s not hard to see why Tom Crean chose Anderson to replace Je’Ney Jackson.

Like Crean, Anderson appears to be relentless about his craft. The fact that Anderson considers Jackson, who Crean frequently complimented during his four plus years in Bloomington, one of his mentors, makes him a natural fit.

“Coach Jackson is a great guy, mentor of mine, great friend of mine,” Anderson said. “He coached me at the University of Kansas. A lot of people don’t know that. He taught me a lot even then and he teaches me now.”

One of the first things Anderson said he asked Crean for was a sand pit, 30′ x 40′ in dimension, and construction on it is currently underway near Assembly Hall.

“I’ve used sand training myself as an athlete,” he explained. “In Houston, I worked out at a place called Eleanor Tinsley Park where me and other athletes that I’ve trained or day walkers, as I like to call them, we go out there and we grind in the sand.”

The Hoosiers are also utilizing training masks in workouts, which are used to simulate high altitude. Yoga in 101 degree temperatures and 60 degree humidity will also be a part of the routine to work on balance, core strength and the mind.

Anderson, who comes from a football background, said he’s not focused on things like how much a particular guy can bench press. His approach is more focused on training the mind. Anderson plans to be right there in the workouts each day with the players bringing intensity and staying so close that “I smell you, that’s how close it is.”

Ultimately, he believes that strengthening the mental approach of the players will translate to more wins on the court.

“My vision is this, simply put: Be hard as nails, win a bunch of games and to go back to Houston,” Anderson said. “And I’m not talking about working for the Cougars. Hoosier Nation needs that, they want that and I understand that and that’s the only job that I have to do.

“It starts from the top to the bottom. The first thing that I’m working on, the first muscle I’m working is that brain, right between the eyes. If I get that, everything else will fall into place.”

Filed to:

  • inLinE6

    Sounds like a smart guy and awesome coach. Crean always finds the right coach for the program.

  • CreamandCrimson

    One thing that bothers me (and I catch myself saying it sometimes) is when commenters write things like “he doesn’t care” or “he doesn’t try” or “he is so lazy”. I was a non-contributor on my high school basketball team and a good tennis player that worked hard on my game for several years. That being said, I never came close to putting in the amount of physical work these players (and I’m not just talking about IU players) and coaches like Anderson are required to put in. That doesn’t mean a player always gives 100% effort on the floor or that a team doesn’t have games where they get out-hustled and, as a fan, that is absolutely frustrating. I just know that next time I think about criticizing effort or calling someone effort, I’m going to think about sand pits and 101 degree yoga and an insanely intense coach in my face and hold my “lazy” comment to myself. I’m in decent shape for a 27-year old but this stuff would chew me up and spit me out pretty quickly.

    Anyway…from a philosophical mindset, I really, really like that Anderson doesn’t have a focus on weight lifting or how much a guy can bench press (although I’m sure they will continue to lift). I truly believe basketball (and nearly all sports) is more about core strength, balance, stamina, agility and raw athleticism than it is pure weight-lifting strength.

  • twoturntables

    I love this guy already, can’t wait to see the results this fall.

  • Beyond the placebo effect, altitude masks don’t “work”. That’s to say, they have been proven ineffective at increasing the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. There are 2 problems with these masks if purpose is trying to improve aerobic endurance by increasing hemoglobin count:
    1. This effect is a physiological adaptation that comes from long-term exposure to low concentration of oxygen. Long term does not mean 1-2 hour workouts. You have to live at high altitude, or theoretically wear a hypoxia mask all day and all night to have any benefit. Elite endurance athletes will train at sea level (higher intensity training) and live at high altitude (increase hemoglobin density).
    2. Increasing hemoglobin density comes from low CONCENTRATION of oxygen taken with each breath. Breathing through a hypoxia mask at sea level doesn’t change the O2 concentration. It simply makes it harder to take a breath, but you’re still getting the same amount of O2 with each breath you take. It doesn’t filter out O2.

    I like sand training. But if he makes the athletes do very high intensity workouts wearing that mask, it can be dangerous. Same with Yoga or any intense exercise in humid 102 degree conditions.

  • At the Quarries

    How about some ballet lessons too? Ha.

  • Arch Puddington

    “I truly believe basketball (and nearly all sports) is more about core strength, balance, stamina, agility and raw athleticism than it is pure weight-lifting strength.”

    This is an argument I’ve been making for many years at ITH, both here and in the Forum when I was a member. It doesn’t take well with most folks. All basketball players are strong, but most are really lean, including big men. Among the greatest players of all time and their weight: Bill Russell, 215; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 225; Larry Bird: 225; Michael Jordan, 215; Kobe Bryant, 215; Magic Johnson; 220. The reigning MVP weighs 190, and on and on it goes.

    Of course there have been some naturally big dudes — Lebron, Shaq, etc.– but in general, lithe, athletic players who can operate with speed and skill are much more important than powerlifters. I could care less about a player’s bench press or the size of his biceps, and it sounds like the new strength coach thinks that way as well. (And while I agree about working out in the heat, I am excited about the Yoga. Good not only for balance and flexibility, but breathing and mental focus).

  • some guy

    Though to be fair he did say he was working on their minds. So hemoglobin count raising or not, working through the difficulty of exercising with the masks could help to strengthen them mentally. Plus I’m sure they’ll feel much better when they aren’t using the masks, kind of the same effect as a baseball player swinging five bats at once to warm up. I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, just trying to come up with some reasons they might be helpful

  • At the Quarries

    That’s always been my sense too. It was painful to watch Hanner bulking up. The videos of the drills that were posted last year looked more like body-building contests than basketball.

  • hoosier93

    Hopefully some of this dudes intensity and passion run off on all these softies and cool cats on the team. If I had a dollar for every time tma player showed some raw intensity.. I’d still be look for my first dollar. Tired of a bunch “Mr. Cools” that just want to try and show a straight face all game. Beat your chest, scream, flex etc. Just go. No reason to act all cool headed. I don’t care if they tied their shoes nicely. I couldn’t careless about a couple technicals called. It’ll get the crowd pumped. The crowd has really been lacking in getting pumped too. Maybe if the players show it in the court then it’ll pick up with the crowd and get AH rocking. Just get pumped. This guy has it in him… just really hope it rubs off on the players.

  • Arch Puddington

    Hanner is a great example. Being built like a Greek statue did little for him, although you would have to admit he looked great.

    People also really like to talk about Yogi’s biceps as though that were evidence of something important. A certain degree of strength is necessary, but even now Yogi is not a notably physical player. His quickness, ball-handling, outside shooting, and decision making are his best attributes, none of which are primarily the product of power lifting. His physique and strength no doubt help him stay healthy through some rough B1G play, but they have little to do with the skills that make him a top PG.

  • hoosier93

    Allen Iverson was about 6 feet tall and 160 pounds. His size meant nothing. It’d still mean nothing. He just had the heart and toughness to keep going and be one of the best guards to play the game. The guy that made wearing a shooting sleeve and a headband cool. Size and how much you lift means little. And just like Anderson said, it starts up top. It’s all in their heads.

  • At the Quarries

    I hope Troy is not next on the body-building skewer, lol. But it looks like we’re hopefully in a new s & c paradigm with Lyonel.

  • SilentBob

    I agree to some extent. To some degree in depends on the players type. On a team full of jump shooter I’d much prefer them to be quick and durable. Ya need those legs more than other players to last 40 minutes. On the other hand if ya take someone like Shaq and train him like a track star you will be doing him a great disservice. So to a degree I believe in individualized work out regimens, but it’s still important to touch all corners to be a great athlete. Because you do need that power to play and absorb contact around the rim. But also need speed and hustle to beat someone to a spot.

    As a side note I used to do heavy lifting in high school. I’m 5’10, 5’11 when my backs not acting up, and got up to 180 lbs which considering my body type is terrific. But I ended up screwing up my back pretty bad. I’m naturally long of leg and arms, that combined with weak knees made for poor balance, and as a result poor form when trying to do things like squats. My back injury along with stomach ulcers, and a mental health episode made me not excercise for almost 4 years and I dropped down to 120. 6 months ago I got back to 150. And 4 months ago I started doing body weight excercises on my own mixed with yoga, kick boxing, and intense cardio with my girl friend and the results have been outstanding. My breathing is worlds better which is great for a guy who suffered from chronic asthma as a child and many broken noses. My flexibility and reflexes are through the roof (I’d never been able to touch my toes until now). I’m much quicker than I ever have been and more durable. As a result, even though I’m only 160 lbs, I feel much more powerful with my movements although I can’t lift nearly as much as I could yet. And I experience little to no pain in my joints after the workouts.

    Considering I have a basketballish type build in the fact that I’m long of limb and don’t have an overpowering frame, I think some of these new workouts benefits will be outstanding for the team.

  • marcusgresham

    Where Yogi’s strength comes into play is his ability to maintain his balance. When you’re the smallest guy on the court you have a tendency to be bounced around. You don’t see him exhibiting strength in the traditional sense (Hanner didn’t have good hands, but when he could grasp a ball he wasn’t going to get it ripped away in a rebound,) but the ability to play through contact is important—especially the way the NCAA has allowed the game to regress.

  • Icecreamncrimson

    I used to work out with a firefighter respirator mask without the air attached and it made a HUGE difference when playing rec sports, or switching to working out without the mask. Making it harder to breathe while performing physical activity definitely makes the same tasks noticeably easier when you aren’t restricted.

  • VerdellJonesIV

    Quite a few NBA players have taken ballet over the years to improve balance and foot work.

  • TomJameson

    That’s an interesting story, and a great comeback … Good for you!

    As usual, I think the right mix is a middle of the road approach. I think you need the “core strength, balance, stamina, agility and raw athleticism… ” part, but I think you also need the “… pure weight-lifting strength.” as well.

    I’ve often thought that pure weight lifting without any kind of flexibility exercises does more harm to the players shooting form that anything at all. So, I’m glad for the new coaches approach, but I’d bet the farm (or a nickel whichever is less) that he isn’t giving up weight training either. Matter of fact that’s some of the video that’s been coming out.

  • SilentBob

    Well thank you. I’m not against weight lifting at all. As long as you execute proper form it has great benefits. I just screwed my back up and don’t wish to do it again. I didn’t have the benefit of having a professional instructor watching me.

  • SilentBob

    Also another big thing for me that I didn’t mention was diet. A lot of guys think as long as there getting their protein and watching their calories then there good. While it’s true you will still add muscle if you’re eating lots of pork and beef, you will also add fat which will slow you down and minimize your gains. I’m sure coach tells them this but every year the NBA combine roles around I’m always hearing half the prospects talk about how their taking their diet more seriously. Which is better late than never, but you would have been better off if you started taking it seriously a lot earlier. Your body can only add so much muscle in a set amount of time. Whenever I hear a player has put on like 30lbs in a off season I’m always take that with a grain of salt because their is a good chance that at least 25% of that is fat

  • HostileHoosier

    STR isnt everything! Look at Jeff Newton! I loved his little skinny scoring butt! IMO STR and Muscle is for more important for point guards than any other position! Look at Troy Williams he has no weight to him but if he plays HIS game there isnt ANYONE even close to him in the B1G even the country!

    Just saying IT isnt everything!

  • At the Quarries

    I know, including Dr. J. I’m only half joking!

  • hoosier93

    Isn’t close to Troy with what?