seek to get Zion Williamson Reaching her peak physical form has been an ongoing saga since her arrival in New Orleans in 2019. Although Williamson has dominated when he has played, injuries and conditioning issues have kept him off the court and kept him from reaching his full potential. After sitting out the entire 2021-22 season due to a fracture in his right leg, Williamson has lost 141 games in the first three years of his career.
But Williamson and his camp believe they have made an important step toward solving those problems this summer.
pelican The star returned to New Orleans after spending two months in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., executing a meticulous plan she devised with her strength and conditioning coach, Jasper Bibbs, to prepare for an important year for her and the Pelicans. . in an exclusive interview, Bibbs said the results have been “unprecedented.”
“She’s in great shape,” said Bibbs. Athletic. “He’s committed to working out day in and day out. I’m really proud of what he’s achieved. He’s a better athlete now than ever.”
Bibbs declined to specify how much weight Williamson lost over the summer or his current weight, but he said Williamson has come a long way since they started working out together in January.
“(His body composition) has improved to a very high level,” he said. “That’s all I’ll say.”
Bibbs spent five seasons as a member of Utah Jazooof the strength and conditioning staff, as of early 2016, developing a strong relationship with the then-jazz star Donovan Mitchell, This relationship was part of the reason that Williamson hired Bibbs as his strength and conditioning coach. The two worked closely during Williamson’s mid-season rehab stint in Portland, and Bibbs remained a key figure during Williamson’s time. Pelicans returned in March,
Once Williamson was fully cleared to participate in off-season activities without restrictions in May, the focus shifted back to what he cares about most: basketball. With Williamson’s blessings and input, Bibbs devised a plan that would help him overcome the physical and mental hurdles that come with being away from the sport for so long. The result: a rigorous eight-week program that included a two-day workout and a specific nutrition plan during his time in Fort Lauderdale.
Below is a partial transcript from our conversation with Bibbs about the work he did with Williamson over the summer and what he expects to star in the 2022-23 season.
,Some of the answers were edited for clarity and brevity.)
So, how did your relationship with Zion begin?
The family had contacted me. I have been working with Zion for almost a year. Our journey began during his rehab in Portland while coming back from a fractured leg. We had to progress slowly, scientifically, slowly and safely. Much of this was in combination with non-weight-bearing cardio as well as daily rehabilitation methods and daily therapies.
How did it feel to see how he works out in the gym and what does he look like now?
It has been unprecedented. I am very happy with his commitment and the progress he has made, which has allowed him to be in such a good place both mentally and physically. Ultimately, we wanted to make him a more resilient and very efficient athlete and allow him to perform at a much higher level while staying healthy through the rigors of a full season and a playoff run.
This summer, we have come up with a plan. He is committed to the plan. We not only wanted Zion to have a good individual season, but we also wanted to focus on what he could do to help the team win. We wanted to develop him to be more resilient and to better handle the demands of being a very explosive athlete at his size.
We focused on addressing body composition – his body weight, body fat, and more, while maintaining and improving flexibility, strength and power. We also focused on improving his overall fitness. The more weight it carries, the more stress it puts on the body. We focused on aerobic and anaerobic basketball-specific conditioning. One of the main goals was to bring Zion back to the same athletic ability she had before the injury. In the process, he has improved athletically. I really think he is a better athlete now than he was before. Once you guys see him on the court, I think you will agree.
Wait, you think he’s a better athlete now?
They have tremendous speed and the ability to change direction without sacrificing speed, which is related to training and better body control through multiple planes of motion. When you have such amazing body control for a man of that size, it’s really rare. We wanted him to be able to handle the incredible forces that he jumps, when he runs and especially, during those change-of-direction moves. This means he can slow down, but then accelerate in a way that doesn’t sacrifice speed, and be able to execute it safely.
No one at this stage of their career will be able to improve their body composition, control of their body, and overall athleticism without putting in an enormous amount of work. He had a daily commitment during the summer, getting up for a workout at 5 in the morning and coming back for a workout at 7 in the evening. He did it like clockwork. The key was buying and realizing that the plan was working and seeing results.
How many times were you guys doing those two days?
I’d rather not say. But we made an eight-week plan, and I’m really happy with the results.
So, how did you come to a mutual agreement on what this eight-week plan would look like?
The plan started once we went through the rehab phase and he was medically cleared to return to full activity on the court. Then, after the Pelicans were eliminated from the playoffs, offseason training began.
Did you have any hope of going into the job? Zion’s physical evolution has been one of the world’s greatest stories nba in the last few sessions. What were you thinking coming in?
I thought this was a tremendous opportunity to help a young athlete. To be in this position at this point in my career and at this point in my life was truly a blessing from God. It was a great opportunity to be able to use my knowledge and my experience to help a young and a young athlete. I was so excited, and it was great working with him.
What was it like working with Zion during his rehabilitation in Portland? I know that was a very important time because he was going through a lot, both mentally and physically. How did you help him in that process?
It was all about getting things done on a daily basis. to be positive. Giving positive quotes every day. Continue to help her through the rehab process. It was tough, but they definitely worked.
How did some of those days look during the eight-week program? How hard were you guys working?
It all fits within the protocol of program design. This goes from prehab, stretching, range of motion assessment, corrective exercises, basketball-specific conditioning and basketball-specific strength training. He’s focused on everything he needs to be able to execute and be a great for the NBA season.
He has a lot of very rare physical traits, as you mentioned. How many times was he at the gym doing things that surprised you?
I’ve never seen an NBA player of his size possessed that level of speed and explosiveness, while also possessing an extraordinary degree of body control. He is the genius of a generation.
When the two of you are working together, where do you feel like he has made the most progress?
I am very pleased not only with his commitment to his conditioning, but to all the exhausting soft-tissue work, stretching and his commitment to nurturing him. He has been phenomenal with his nutrition. I am so happy for her. As he continues his NBA career, it is surprising that he is starting to develop these habits right now at such a young point in his career. It’s just phenomenal to see.
I know you don’t want to talk specific numbers, but how much have you noticed their body composition changes over time?
It has been improved to a very high level. That’s all I’ll say.
How much attention have you paid to injury prevention in the work you’ve been doing with Zion?
Injury prevention and their health have been the main focus of our program. It is part of their daily routine. It’s seven days a week. He has shown great commitment in that area while working on flexibility, range of motion. All that kind of stuff.
How involved was he in coordinating what the eight-week plan would look like?
He was very involved. one hundred percent. We all sat down and came up with what it would look like together.
You get to see him every day. How do you think he will react when he walks off the court and shows you everything you guys are working on?
They’ll be excited. They will be excited to see such a generation of talent playing the sport he loves, the joy he shows on the court and the athleticism he brings to the sport. I think people will be very excited. You can see how happy he is when he steps onto the court and shows people what he can do.
You and Zion seem to have been able to develop a strong relationship over time. Why do you think the two of you are able to work so well together?
While working with my NBA athletes, being able to connect with an athlete to buy into the program has always been important to me. I think it’s just real and being able to educate the athlete on the importance of what we’re doing – strength and conditioning, soft-tissue work, hydration, nutrition, range of motion at each joint. The body is a kinetic chain. If one thing becomes useless, it affects another.
During our time together, I feel like Zion has improved, and I’ve gotten better at working with her because I’m around her so much everyday. Building on that relationship and putting it into action every day, she has seen tremendous improvement, and she has seen results within the program’s design. It has allowed us a lot to work together.
A lot of NBA athletes talk about not focusing on things like nutrition, sleep — all the exhausting parts of training you mentioned earlier. How much have you seen them take an active part in making all those things a part of their daily routine?
That laser is focused. He is 100 percent committed. He has taken daily responsibility for many such areas of his health. Now we are at the point where the excitement and joy he gets from daily work.
How much satisfaction have you got to see what you guys have planned and the way it has been executed over time?
We are very excited about all this. I know I’ve said it many times, but I’m really happy with his commitment to improving his fitness and body composition. He never wavered, and his ability to function at a higher level improved accordingly because of whatever he was doing on a daily basis. He has done a wonderful job and I am very happy for him.
(Photo courtesy of Jasper Bibbs)