This week’s EliteFTS spotlight introduces readers to University of Richmond strength coach Jay DeMayo. As of this writing, Richmond is ranked 23rd in the AP Top 25, and Coach DeMayo is responsible for the physical preparation of the university’s entire basketball program.

Richmond will also be hosting the Central Virginia Sport Performance Seminar on April 17, 2010. Featured speakers include Dr. Michael Yessis, Anatoly Bondarchuk, Cal Dietz, Josh Stoner and Coach DeMayo himself. For more information on this event, please visit

Introduce yourself to the readership and tell us a little about your background.

I got into it when I was at SUNY Cortland, which is where I went to college. I actually got hurt my junior year playing soccer there, and our athletic trainer was talking about this whole “training athletes” thing. I was a meathead at the time, I guess as much as a soccer player could be, and I just kind of got into it. She handed me the softball team there, and it was awesome. I fell in love with it right away. I ended up working with men’s ice hockey, too. It’s pretty sweet to be able to tinker around and design programs like that as an undergrad.

After that I went to SUNY Binghamton and worked under a guy named Brian McGovern, and then to Indiana State for a grad assistantship, where I worked under a guy that not a lot of people know. His name is Kip Hytrek, and he’s probably one of the best guys that nobody knows about. He does a hell of a job. Kip took another job in my second year, and then I got a call from Darren Thomas at the University of Richmond, and I jumped on it. This is the start of year eight at Richmond.

What sports do you work with at Richmond?

I work with men’s and women’s basketball, the women’s swim and dive team, and men’s and women’s tennis. When I got there, I was an intern working with basically everybody except basketball, baseball and lacrosse.

What’s your relationship with Yosef Johnson and Ultimate Athlete Concepts?

We have a seminar here, and it used to be a small, hole in the wall operation where it was mostly just us, and we’d bring in some local people and a college coach or two to speak. I helped put together a basketball symposium that turned out to be phenomenal, and our coach at the time called me out and challenged me to make it bigger, and it doesn’t get any bigger than Anatoly Bondarchuk and Michael Yessis. I sent Yosef an email, we got to talking, and the rest is history.

What’s your relationship with Elite Fitness Systems?

When it comes to Elite, what can you say? That’s the top tier when it comes to everything. When it comes to free stuff, it’s unbelievable what Dave and Jim give to everybody – the knowledge that they just hand out. Granted, there’s a good dose of humor in there, too, but it’s the willingness to help anyone, no matter who it is, with their questions. No matter how many times Wendler gets asked a question about 5/3/1, he always answers it. It’s crazy.

Equipment-wise, they’re the guys to go to. For continuing education, for books, DVD’s and videos, they’re the guys you go to. A lot of people think it’s a meathead powerlifter site, but it’s not even close to that. Even before it was as big as it is now, it wasn’t a big meathead site, because you’ve got some of the best performance coaches ever to walk the earth. Long story short, it’s the best of the best.

What’s your philosophy for training basketball players?

I think 90% of coaches out there will tell you they’ve got guys who’ll show up and work hard, and I’m part of that majority. But really, the basketball circuit is very messed up. These kids play like ten games in a weekend, from Friday to Sunday, and then they turn around and they’re playing games in another tournament from Tuesday to Thursday. I mean, all they do is play basketball, and they’re not strong. They don’t know what to do in the weight room. So really, you have to start off as general as possible.

You see these guys who are absolute freak shows who can jump 38” but can hardly bend their knees or dorsiflex their ankles before they jump. They’re so bound up and they don’t know how to move, but they’re so freakishly explosive. General strength is so big, and postural issues are big with most of them, too. Obviously, I’m working with a lot of tall guys. 18-22 year old guys are mostly concerned with girls, and the average height of the American female is 5’3”, so they’re always looking down and they’re hunched over. When they’re not doing that, they’re sitting in class. They have weak upper backs, and they have no idea how to use their hips, let alone how to squat. It’s about teaching them basic movements and getting them strong so you can get to a point where you can begin to specialize.

What’s the key to conditioning basketball players?

Our head coach, Chris Mooney, who played at Princeton, is a firm believer in conditioning guys by playing basketball. When you take a step back and think about it, most football players, in the offseason, play basketball. Kids play basketball to get in shape. These kids at the University of Richmond have scholarships worth something like $53,000 a year to play basketball, so I’m really lucky. I’ve got 16 guys who really want to play basketball, so they play basketball for about 90% of their conditioning. If it looks like we need to run for a day or two, we do, but the problem you run into is whether you run them on the hardwood and whether you run them in basketball shoes. If you run them on the hardwood, now you’re looking at a lot of pounding, especially if you don’t have an elevated floor. It’s basically pavement.

We’ll do a lot of just, almost, circuit-type work with anything from battling ropes to the versa climber to swinging a sledgehammer in the offseason. We do a ton of stuff with the Prowler, and the guys love to hate it. It gives us the heart rate response we want. We get the lactate training that we want, but we can do it in less time and with less impact on the body. Instead of a team of guys with tendonitis in their knees or boots on their feet with stress fractures, the Prowler is the way we’ve decided to go.

Are you position-specific in the way you train your basketball players?

You know, most people would be, but because of the system we run, we almost don’t have positions. It’s kind of like, if you’re familiar with soccer, the Dutch idea of total football. Our center has to be able to dribble, pass and shoot a three pointer. Our point guard has to have post moves. Because of the system we run offensively – it’s not like we’re constantly pounding it into the big guy and having him make a post move – it’s more like a total game. On defense, we play a matchup zone, so our center might be guarding a guy out on the perimeter, so he’s got to be able to do everything that our point guard would have to do. In that situation, I’m really lucky.

What I do is tailor things to be more player specific. So and so may be banged up because of this, or this guy may have a hard time squatting because his upper back is completely weak, or he doesn’t know how to fire his glutes, or he can’t sit back. Things like that. If a guy can’t keep someone in front of him to save his life, we need to work on lateral movement. It could be 5 on 0 and a guy can’t move down the floor, so we need to work on movement mechanics. We’re more based on the “organism,” as opposed to the entire team.

Are there height considerations from a biomechanical sense? Can you squat a center the same way you can a point guard?

No, not at all, and to be honest, a lot of my guys used to box squat exclusively. Some guys were phenomenal at it, but other guys were terrible. We’ve got one guy who’s 6’11”, and his torso is longer than his arms and legs. We’ve got other guys who are 6’9” and 6’10” with 7’2” wingspans. You’ve got to look at who they are when it comes to exercise selection. Is a guy going to be a front squat guy? Can a kid, based on how he’s put together, get down and pick a bar off the ground. A lot of them are so bound up in their hips that even hitting depth in a quarter squat is a chore for them. It’s about looking at the kid, figuring out what you need to do in order to get them to move, and training them accordingly.

What kinds of recovery methods do you use?

After games, we used to say, if you played 20 minutes you were in the cold tub. If you played less, you went through a rolling and stretching routine, but they despised it – to the point where we went from cold tubs to contrast baths, but they hated it, and they would come in the next day saying they felt stiff and they felt worse. When we asked them what they wanted to do to feel better, they said they wanted to leave and eat, so now they leave and eat. If they have a home game, they always have the option to come in and lift after, and there are some guys who think lifting at 10 o’clock at night after a game is the best thing they could ever do. The guys are crazy, and whatever they think helps them...

I mean, you and I know that after a kid plays 39 minutes, when he gets in the cold tub, he should feel better. But if he thinks the cold tub sucks and he hates it and it hurts, it’s not going to help him. Right now, we’re just down to making sure they’re eating, getting them on the foam rollers as many times as possible and getting them some leg stretching during the day.

How do you make sure they eat?

We have breakfast check every morning. There are multiple guys who are also responsible for bringing food into the weight room after they train. Obviously this isn’t going to be the greatest thing in the world, but for some of these kids, a meal’s a meal. I mean, they’re college kids. Even if it’s a peanut butter sandwich, a piece of fruit and a shake. We eat a pregame meal together, and they get a per diem for food after, and what they spend it on is up to them. Unfortunately, it’s not the one hour we’re with them, it’s the other twenty-three. We try to spend as much time with them as possible. Not just me, but the entire staff, to make sure everyone’s taking care of themselves.

Do you travel with the team?

Not very much at all, which makes the job even better. Don’t get me wrong...I would love to be there, all the time or as much as I could, but logistics and what I would really do at a game other than have one of the thirty best seats in the house, is really limited.

Tell us a little about the seminar you’re hosting.

I think it’s going to be a fantastic day for our profession. Right now, nobody really knows where our profession is going, and in trying to understand where it’s going, you have to know the people who’ve been through it. There aren’t any people who’ve been through more of this stuff than Michael Yessis and Anatoly Bondarchuk. You have to see where it’s going by listening to the best people out there. I don’t think anyone would argue that the staff at Missouri is one of the top in the country, or that Cal Dietz is one of the best strength coaches around, period. It’s a great opportunity to network with some great people and to pick the brains of some of the best minds in the field, who’ve been there and done that.

Where can people get more information?

There’s a website: People can go there and get all the info they need, plus hotel information and everything else they need. We’ll have a group discount on the hotel, which is about a mile and a half from the university. Plus, Richmond is a nice place to be in April.

The people coming to this seminar, like Jason Pegg, yourself, and all the coaches who’ve signed up with all different backgrounds...talking shop and getting a chance to sit there and hear these guys speak is something I wouldn’t miss. I put this seminar together to learn, for myself, from the guys I consider the best in the field, and this is the lineup I came up with. This is a seminar for someone who wants to be good at what we do. It’s the best lineup of 2010.