Pro Tip: Resistance Series, Pt. 3: Developing Power with Pushes

By Jay Ramos

With the development of important muscles like our hip flexors and overall quadriceps, we need to make sure the push we get from our hamstrings is optimal to encourage the utmost explosion.

Just beneath your glutes are the hamstrings, which are made up of three muscles. I already have mentioned avoiding machines that can harm your athletic potential, so let’s look at a very functional movement that can get your hamstrings ready to power forward and complement the quad and hip flexor work we did here and here.

The Weighted Sled Push

Sled pushes develop upper and lower body muscles

Look fun? That’s because it’s one of the most demanding explosion workouts in the arsenal. It certainly takes a toll on the legs, but your shoulders and core get some pop out of this too. It also promotes FUNCTIONAL strength, not artificial strength, because running mechanics are emphasized in a challenged environment. This is how the human body was meant to move, not seated on a machine.

Don’t have access to a sled? Be creative and try these plate pushes:

Basketball, Next Level, Jay Ramos, Speed, Explosion, SAQ, NLSAQ

Sled pushes can be done with simple plates and a towel at your local gym

You don’t need the actual sled to create this workout.

Want a basketball specific variation? Grab a basketball, have a workout partner put his hands on your shoulder and resist you on the run.  This is the partner dribble push. The partner should leave enough of a window for you to run hard while still giving you enough leeway to get full drive and keep your mechanics right.


Sled Push

– Keep your back straight and maintain a straight line from your head through your legs. You should not round your back.
– Keep your arms stable at roughly a 45 degree angle. Do not push through with your arms on the drill.
– Begin slow and find a rhythm.
– Start with five repetitions of 50 feet. Rest time should not be more than 30-45 seconds. Move onto five repetitions of 75 feet in two weeks, and eventually 100 feet as long as your stamina can keep the intensity through the entire drill.

Plate Push

The same mechanical instructions apply from the sled push. Drive the knees and keep the arms stable. Keep your back straight.

Partner Dribble Push

– Since you have a basketball and no arm stabilizers are involved, the dribbling of the basketball actually becomes a very taxing exercise in a different way.
– We don’t want you slowing down or arching your back here. If it’s too difficult, tell your partner to ease up. You should be going through with proper running mechanics to get the most of the drill.

Now go get to work.

Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer and performance enhancement specialist with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in early 2015. Check out the preview at

Pro Tip: Resistance Series, Pt. 2: How this pro player got his speed back

By Jay Ramos

You know that player on the court who people just don’t want to defend? That player with the quick feet and deadly hesitations that can shift you out of position on defense and put you on a highlight reel?

Former University of Tennessee guard Bobby Maze was that player. During his time as a two year starter in college, UT went to the sweet-16 his senior season, and he has gone on to enjoy a successful pro career overseas.

But when he enlisted me to do his offseason program last summer, we realized one thing very quickly: He was way out of shape. When we started working out we also realized one thing very quickly: B-Maze still had it.

Next Level Basketball Bobby Maze Jay Ramos

Coach Jay describes a harness drill to Bobby Maze (University of Tennessee).

The explosive crossover was back and he even toasted one of my NBA clients one of my stamina crushing full court 1-on-1’s.

How did he round into shape?

Resistance Training.

See that band on his waist in the picture? Bobby had to run 50 foot sprints against varying resistance, and in the process, his hamstrings began to get their strength back and his quadriceps starting to drive like they were meant to drive.

The Science Behind It:

I discussed stationary high knee running here as a way to develop the front hip flexor and create knee drive, and after this introductory exercise, we can begin to develop those hamstrings into powerful machines to help you really start generating the most force you can on the wood, and in turn, just blowing by people and letting them feel the breeze. You should have a 2:1 ratio of strength to support the knees from the quads-hamstrings, so remember that some sound strengthening like the ones we have outlined before should complement these explosive workouts.


– Acquire a still harness to wrap around the waste.
– Grab a partner
– Run four 50 foot sprints with your partner placing between 50-75 percent resistance on you as you move.

Remember, the point isn’t to put complete force against you to the point where you can’t move, it is to put optimum force against you to the point where you’re running mechanics are the same and you are exploding but resistance is forcing maximum output.

For visual, check out Bobby and NBA forward Michael Beasley doing some of this work here:


Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer and performance enhancement specialist with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in early 2015. Check out the preview at


Next Level SAQ: What is Speed?

By Jay Ramos

Speed. Agility. Quickness.

You’ve heard about SAQ for months from us at Next Level Basketball. It’s because as a basketball player, in this century, sport specific training is becoming more advanced, and the way we go about performance enhancement is very particular to basketball players in this case.

Performance enhancement is about overall athleticism, in this case ‘basketball athleticism.’ It’s not just jumping high. It’s not just about being quick. It’s not just agility, or dexterity. Or ‘explosion’ synonyms like ‘burst.’

It’s everything.

And being the best athlete you can be is about a program that delivers on everything as a foundation for your athletic performance in this sport.

Supplemented with proper strength training in nutrition, which we will delve into soon, Next Level Speed, Agility, and Quickness *(Our upcoming program) is a guide to basketball athleticism, so every cut you make off the ball, every sprint back in transition, every crossover dribble, every defensive slide, and every blow by wow’s the opponent with unsuspecting athleticism.

It’s important to understand why ‘Speed,’ ‘Agility’ and ‘Quickness’ are the pillars we begin with though. Let’s cover speed for now.

What is SPEED?

Speed, Basketball

You know what speed is, right? A self explanatory term you’ve heard about for years! But there’s more to it.

For the purpose of basketball, we aren’t only training you for intermediate distance speed, where say, you might need to sprint up the floor in transition. We’re training you for short distance speed. That ONE step you need to beat an opponent off the dribble. That ONE lateral shuffle you need to be in position to help on defense.

Running isn’t as simple as just running. Technique matters. Stride length matters. Stride rate matters. Starting ability is essential, and of course, endurance comes in handy.

Every one of these points is touched upon on our program. In fact, in one of our three progressions, the ‘ladder progression’ we specifically pound on stride rate, stride length and starting ability as a basis to running before we do anything else.

We don’t long sprint. Not because it won’t help your’e endurance, but we prefer to train you for what will happen in a basketball game. It will come in bursts. There will be starting. There will be stopping. And you will never have to run 100 yards on a possession straight. Know what we do? We have our athletes run with the ball after specifically doing several exercises at different stride lengths to condition you to adapt to multiple situations and move with the ball in your hands.

You may be running 50 sprints and be making endurance gains and even speed gains, but how smart is it to train that way? If you play basketball, getting speed isn’t about training like a track athlete!

In my next post I will cover ‘Agility’ and what it truly means for a basketball player, and our program, ‘Next Level Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ will be available shortly. See you inside.

Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer and performance enhancement specialist with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in 2014. Check out the preview at

Pro Tip: The Five Habits of a Professional Basketball Player

By Jay Ramos

As an athlete in this generation, you have access to the greatest tools imaginable. From injury rehabilitation, to progressive strength training, to new diet techniques to basketball innovation. Everything is out there for you to maximize who you are as an athlete.

But do you?

Playing professional sports doesn’t mean you prepare like a professional, but I can definitely say from experience that those who have professional habits and act like professionals have a better chance of succeeding and reaching their potential.

So let’s talk about you, since you want to be a basketball player.

Whether it be making that varsity cut, earning a college scholarship or becoming a pro, are you doing everything you can to ensure that you reach these goals? And secondly, are you doing everything you can as EFFICIENTLY as you can to reach these goals.

Here is a list of five professional habits that give you the right to say you #TrainLikeAPro, from someone who has worked with multiple NBA athletes.

basketball training

The Five Habits of a Pro:

1) Strength/Conditioning Training: Without a stable foundation, you’re athletic upside is incredibly limited. You want to have an explosive first step, than why do you never work on lower body strength? Want to jump higher, right? So why is your core flabby? You’re body is everything. A solid, strong, lean body will help you feel more confident on the court, prevent injury, and help performance. Having a consistent strength routine in season, and a progressive strength routine in the offseason, is a necessary habit for a Pro.

And as far as conditioning, we just go ahead and lump these two together, because if you can’t get up and down the floor, what good is there in being skilled? Want to press people on defense? You can’t have it both ways. Conditioning has to be a priority. Want to be the type of player who finishes fourth quarters? Better be in better shape than everyone else. Having a conditioning regimen is paramount.

2) Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) Training: Once you have been through stability training, and progressed to strength training, it’s time to do some explosive work. Everything should have a basketball purpose. A good way to start is with our free workout and upcoming programs, but having a component of SAQ Training to keep your basketball athleticism sharp is a good way to build another advantage on the court.

Speed is your ability to move fast, agility is you’re ability to react and change directions in small spaces, and quickness involves your burst. All three work together and to promote an explosive basketball body.

3) Skills Training: A strong, agile body can push through skills workouts even more efficiently, and this third step is where your game can take off. It’s about efficiency. Professionals train smart and make good use of their time. This means a balance between skill development and game repetition.

Definitely pound that ball out and put up volume shots, but you have to also direct your attention to repeating game scenario’s. When I worked with NBA player Scotty Hopson last summer, we spent most of our session getting repetition on two particular pivot moves to help his isolation game.

Of course he needed to get his shots up, but don’t be the player that goes in the gym and shoots around all day. Be focused and game specific.

4) Diet: Yea sorry, you have to eat right. Or not, but don’t say you’re the hardest worker if you don’t do it all and complement your training regimen with the right diet.

That’s right, a diet is part of #NoDaysOff and #OutWork. How about that? You should have a high protein, high on complex carbohydrate diet.

If you’re really serious about you’re game, don’t eat McDonald’s with your teammates before a game. Don’t eat pizza everyday at lunch with soda. In fact, never drink soda and try to avoid pizza entirely. You want to be great? Everyone would be if giving up tasty, fatty food was easy.

There are several diet protocols to follow, and I suggest following one to keep you organized. Saying your trying to eat right and following a loose diet never works for consistency. When clients consult me on diet, it usually is one that feeds an athlete appropriately.

5) Study The Game: With all the work you have put in on the court, in the weight room, on the track and in the kitchen, now it’s time to step in the classroom. You should have two film sessions a week. One evaluating you or your teams performance, which I’m sure many coaches have anyway for the whole team, and one studying professional and college basketball games. Challenge yourself to ask questions, learn defensive zones, think about player tendencies.

Basketball IQ is as much a skill as any ability you process on the court. You can never stop learning.

In Conclusion:

We like to use the motto #TrainLikeAPro at Next Level Basketball, and from my perspective working with professional athletes, shortcuts to greatness don’t work. If you want to conduct yourself like a professional, like anything else in life, it takes a real commitment.

With the ‘Five Habits of a Professional Basketball Player’ I promise you will have a competitive advantage. Be consistent for a period of time and it will be readily apparent. Three or four aren’t enough. Do them all.

Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer and performance enhancement specialist with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in 2014. Check out the preview at

Tip of the Day: Strength training for explosion – Avoid Machines

By Jay Ramos

Want to run fast? Want to be quick laterally? Want to jump high?

All these things will help you be a better basketball player.

And all three cannot be accomplished at their full potential without a proper foundation of strength.

I have already alluded to core training as being a key component, and how lunges are a terrific strength exercise for basketball players, but I also want to tell you what not to do when you are building strength.

Not only are you risking injury by jumping into speed, agility and quickness or vertical training by not complementing it and preparing with a strength program, you could also be creating muscle imbalances by doing it the wrong way.

One way a basketball player shouldn’t train is with weight machines. The problem is, you would be working on muscle movers while completely ignoring the stability movers that make the movements as powerful and balanced as they need to be.

Basketball training weight training stregth

Yea, might want to avoid these, basketball players.

See a shoulder press machine? Do some overhead presses with dumbells instead.

See a bench press attached to a machine? Do some pushups instead.

See a leg extension machine? Try some of those lunges.

Sitting on a machine can leave your joints vulnerable, because they have no assistance from other muscle groups that you would be using on the court. Just a tip. Work on your strength. It helps on the court and serves as the foundation for your athletic ability.

Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in 2014. Check out the preview at

Tip of the Day 10/24/14: Want to get faster? Core comes first

By Jay Ramos

Being effective on the basketball court has as much to do with skills as it does with the condition of our body. When I’m speaking to one of my players, I never tell them I’m a skills trainer or a personal trainer alone. To me, the portion of performance enhancement training I incorporate is specifically designed to translate to the basketball court, and goes hand in hand with the skills we develop.

It’s why I want to offer some advice that will make sure our upcoming program ‘Speed, Agility, Quickness’ can be maximized and you can be the player with the explosive first step and lightning quick feet you will be if you commit to this process.

Guys, let’s talk about core work. Like balance training, it’s an underrated aspect of athleticism that basketball players often don’t focus on. Everyone wants to move fast and jump around, and we will soon, but let’s make sure we put you in a position where your body can respond to our explosive work the way it’s supposed to.

You see, the core is the center of gravity for the body. A weak core causes inefficient movement and can lead to predictable injury. Many people have strong movement muscles, but weak stabilization muscles, and this causes forces not to transfer properly. Meaning: You’er not as fast. You won’t jump as high.

I want to issue everyone a challenge here.

I want everyone to do these two exercises every day. They may seem simple, but follow through and you will feel them.

Two Leg Floor Bridge: Perform at least 20 of these a day. Do it slowly, and hold it for five seconds at it’s peak, before slowly coming down. If you are an advanced athlete, try bringing one leg off the ground and pointing it straight out.

basketball training, core training,

Two-Leg Floor Bridge

The Plank: Perform five stationary planks for roughly 30 seconds each to begin with. Add as you go, or start with less while you adjust. It’s important to give our hips this foundation.

Basketball Training, core training

Le’ Plank

In addition to this, I want you all to do at least 50 push ups a day, and at least 20 overhand and underhand pull-ups a day. Go for more each week.

Let me know your progress in our Facebook group here. Let’s get stronger. Let’s keep building into the athlete we want to be.

Jay Ramos is a professional basketball trainer with Next Level Basketball. He is currently constructing a basketball athleticism program called ‘Speed, Agility, and Quickness’ that will be out in 2014. Check out the preview at

How to be Better

Some of you Miami basketball players are wondering, ”why am I not getting better? I work so hard. I even added ball handling work or passing…”

I’ve been there– everyone has. And there are a few possible explanations.

A few things to consider:
1) If you’re doing more ball handling in the same time frame, that means you’re doing less of everything else. If you add something, add it, don’t substitute it. You’ll never grow that way.

2) You’re not pushing yourself! Don’t get settled into a routine longterm. Routines are designed to cover your bases. Every day, do something that you didn’t last practice– be it 10 extra minutes doing sprints, or 50 extra shots, that is how you grow!

3) You may be practicing hard, but you’re not practicing smart. See the Isaiah Thomas quotes from last blog and the following Michael Jordan quote, “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” This is where getting a shooting coach, or a skills & fundamentals trainer, like coach Brandon Harris, is undeniably essential.

Work with me. I will push you, you will get your work in and you will practice right — hard and smart.

You will get better, I guarantee it.

Coach Brandon Harris
Next Level Basketball Training of Florida