The Voice

And I’ve run into a problem – a common one for me and maybe for you too.

I have two “voices” in my head.

One is the voice of Reason and the other is the voice of Pride.

Reason says, “Stick to your plan. You know the process, the pacing, how long this takes. Be patient. Work the plan.”

And then Pride chimes in, “Don’t listen to him! Just go down to the park and start jumping. Push yourself? Bleed! Leave it all on the court! Revel in your efforts! Be proud of your pain! Damn it man, WORK! You don’t need all this stuff. Just WORK!”

I feel like I can do more, push things more, get better faster if I just WORK harder. I feel like I should just ditch the whole plan and just go down to the park and start jumping. After all, isn’t that how I learned to dunk all those years ago?

Back In The Day

I remember. Maybe that’s part of the issue. I remember how badly, as a kid, I wanted to dunk a basketball. And I remember what I did to get there.

This will sound like, “Well, in my day I had to walk through a blizzard barefoot just to get to school” but the truth is, back then there was no “training and conditioning”; no weight training equipment. We had no in-season or off-season training regimens. Mostly, you were on your own.

So, what I did to learn how to dunk was jump. A lot. And I found a way to dunk, cheating a little to get the feel of it.

In our high school gym, the rim and backboard, on one end of the court, were only about 12-16 inches out from the back wall. I know. Not a smart design. A lot of us ran into the wall because we couldn’t slow down.

But I found a way to use the wall to dunk before I could jump high enough to dunk normally.

I would start running from half-court, full speed with a volleyball – because I could hold it in one hand – headed right toward the wall.

Then, at the very last second, I would bound off the wall with my foot, spring back and up just high enough to dunk the volleyball.

I would do this over and over and over.

Until one day, I no longer needed the wall.

So, now, in my head – and maybe my heart really – I’m still that guy; that kid that taught himself how to dunk without weights, training routines, supplements, protein smoothies, a low-carb diet, a tempurpedic bed,  and a bitchy back with knees that bark from time to time.

I don’t want all of that stuff. I just want to jump.

Why can’t I just jump my way back to where I once was?

Well, Reason comes to the rescue. “My friend, you are not what you were then. Can you improve? Yes. Can you do it the way you did back then? No. You need a new path. Use your mind – just as you did back then. Think.”


And then I breathe deeply and come into the present with gratitude. For what I know now, what I understand and that I can still THINK.

My Current Plan

I have one “heavy” training day per week. This is a modified Element with typically five or six drills. The focus of these Elements is mostly speed. Jumping is all about speed. Yes, you have to be strong but have you ever seen a Strongman hit the rim? Not many. You have to use your strength with speed which is technically Power.

The first two “heavy” sessions – and I call them heavy not because of the loads but the intensity -I was sore for several days. I completed the Element on a Monday, soreness showed up in full force Wednesday and stayed through Saturday. I longed for a hot tub filled with Epsom salts.  I knew this would happen so I built in other training regimens that provided rest for the soreness – mostly in my hips and legs – until I recovered.

Then Sunday is a day off. This has worked well as I have had much less soreness this week as compared to week one which is exactly as it should be.

The other parts of the program include speed development of the upper body, core strength and endurance, and flexibility especially of my trunk and hips. These are areas that have always been stiff. The thoracic spine in particular because of the injuries I have there – three Schmorl’s nodes – the disc herniated through the bone – and degenerative disc and joint disease of the spine.

So, a typical training week looks like this:

  • Day one – Jump Element III (I have three Jump Elements at this point)
  • Day two – Steady State Endurance (SSE), flexibility / mobility drills
  • Day three – Core Element / Upper Body ATOM (an ATOM is a shorter version of an Element)
  • Day four – OFF
  • Day five – Speed Intervals, flexibility / mobility,
  • Day six – SSE, flexibility, mobility
  • Day seven – OFF

I also walk nearly every day for about an hour with my dogs. I wear a 20lb weight vest. I do this for two reasons. One – I love my dogs and it’s a form of meditation for me. Two – the extra load “hardens” my tissues. It helps me in preparation for future higher levels of force.

You may notice that I have TWO days off and I have only ONE Jump training Element (and I only have one drill right now that involves any form of jumping).

Reason says this is the way to go. Train hard, give your body time to recover. Pride says, “Jump more. Add another Jump Element. You’re only doing ONE Jump Element a week! Come on! You can do more! You’ll get there faster by doing more!”

Thus far, Reason is winning but not without a fight.

More to come….stay tuned.


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About Doug Kelsey

DK_bball_post Doug Kelsey is a physical therapist and healthy lifestyle “guru”. Doug is formerly an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Oklahoma Health Science and is the owner of Sports Center Physical Therapy in Austin, Tx. He writes on how to “actively age” – how to get healthy and fit over your lifetime and take charge of your health. He and his brother Joshua created the ActiveAge Blueprint.

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