Home » Featured Sports Performance Articles » Just Fly Performance Podcast Episode #10: Ryan Horn, Wake Forest Head Basketball Strength and Conditioning Coach

Just Fly Performance Podcast Episode #10: Ryan Horn, Wake Forest Head Basketball Strength and Conditioning Coach

This week’s guest is Wake Forest head basketball strength and conditioning coach, Ryan Horn.  I’m excited to have a basketball strength coach contribute to this series, especially since so many coaches and athletes that are a part of the Just Fly Sports community are into basketball.

Ryan has an unbelievable amount of experience with all the modern tech tools available to the modern strength coach, but more importantly, has a perspective on all of it that goes well beyond his years in the field.

It’s easy to find yourself on one side or the other, in regards to technology in sport, saying that it is either the absolute solution to the needs of the sports performance field, or that it is an intuition robbing, “keep up with the Joneses” field that universities and top professional institutions feel they must have to be current and modern.

Ryan’s talk helped me really to understand the heart of a coach using technology and monitoring within the scope of still being a coach first and foremost.  People who poke fun at the hyper-monitoring high-performance directorship that some of athletic performance is turning towards sometimes blind themselves to the fact that, at the heart of the matter, coaches who are using technology to assist them, are mostly great coaches before they are tech users

Ryan and I talk about that balance on the show today, in addition to a lot of other awesome training info that you’ll see within the key points area of these show notes, including plyometrics, jump training, training load for players of varying heights, energy system development for basketball, and much more!

Just Fly performance Podcast 10, Ryan Horn


Today’s episode is brought to you by SimpliFaster, supplier of high-end athletic development tools, such as the Freelap timing system, kBox, Sprint 1080, and more.

Key Points:

  • Ryan’s athletic background, and what got him into the strength and conditioning field
  • The most pressing physical development needs of the modern basketball player
  • Approaching the needs of basketball in context of running and standing jump differentials
  • Seasonal demands of basketball, and finding windows to balance the developmental pyramid, and build proper movement patterns
  • Ryan’s approach to energy system and aerobic component development for basketball players
  • Strategies for keeping athletes in a state of parasympathetic CNS dominance to be able to “flip the switch” well, as well as transition to recovery more easily
  • Ryan’s use of the kBox inertial training unit as an important part of his strength program
  • Anecdotes on the ability of inertial training to improve the “load” dynamic on the SpartaTrac scan (the ability to generate force in the eccentric portion of a vertical jump, etc.)
  • Dosage and progression in plyometric training for basketball players
  • Ryan’s athlete monitoring practice and his practical thoughts on how to implement effective monitoring
  • How to monitor your athletes readiness with no budget


“These guys are coming into our program with college mileage; they lack strength, they lack stability, most of the conditioning and fitness that they get is acquired from playing games”

“As a coach, we help guys achieve personal records, but we also have to achieve personal relationships with these guys.  The results are going to come after you’ve built these relationships”

“If a guy can jump 40 inches in the air and looks good in a tank top, but is sitting on the bench next to me handing out water bottles, that isn’t going to help us very much”

“Simple’s not sexy anymore… but simple doesn’t mean easy”

“Basketball is a jumping sport, but we can’t get lost in the sky, we have to understand how these athletes interact with gravity/the ground”

“Basketball (as opposed to other sports), over 90% of our year is spent competing or practicing”

“A lot of our guys come into practice with elevated resting heart rates, in which case we’ll implement cardiac output work, via an extensive warmup, where we’ll throw in Mach speed (drill) work, skipping, med ball work, keeping that heart rate in the 120-140 range, depending on who the athlete is.”

“On the basketball court, if you load, and you are on the ground too long, you are dead in the water”

“I’ve never seen an athlete who is explosive, who is not stiff a little bit”

“All the horsepower in the world isn’t going to do anything without good brakes and a straight frame”

“The most important aspect of monitoring is the head coach you work for.. it’s the head coach, and his ability to be open to the information you are giving him, and be open to change, or modify what he is doing from a technical-tactical piece”

“I deal with athletes from 5’11” to 7’2”, 70% isn’t 70% (1RM) for all of those athletes”

“Coach what you know, teach what you know, buy what you can use, measure what matters”

“The most powerful (monitoring tool) you can do is talk to your athletes”

About Ryan Horn:

Ryan Horn, Wake Forest
(Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film)

Ryan Horn is in his second season with the Wake Forest basketball program in 2015-16. Horn serves as the Demon Deacons’ Director of Athletic Performance.

Horn joined the Demon Deacons in April 2014 after working under head coach Danny Manning at the University of Tulsa where he helped the Golden Hurricane win the 2013-14 Conference USA regular season and tournament championships–the program’s first league title since 2003.

Horn spent three seasons at Tulsa and most recently directed the athletic performance programs for men’s basketball and softball while assisting with football. He also previously worked with the Golden Hurricane women’s basketball and women’s soccer teams.

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