Vertical Core Training System


Created by University of Texas basketball strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright, the Vertical Core Training System specifically conditions players like Kevin Durant for the movements that his sport requires. Here are a few principles of the program.

  • Muscles are reactors that react to the environment the coach gives them
  • It uses the ground to create energy
  • It uses the momentum of the body to store energy in the core
  • Exercises are three dimensional, therefore it’s important to train the muscular and nervous system that way.
  • Sagital (flexion and extension exercises)
  • Frontal (side to side exercises)
  • Transverse (rotational exercises)

Since basketball players only play the game in the vertical position (on their feet), it’s important to load the core in that position. None of the exercises in the system are done horizontally – there’s no bench press or other moves done while on the back or stomach – as everything is done from a standing position.

After a series of box steps and flexibility exercises, Wright has Durant go through a number of locomotion drills and lunge matrixes to mimic moves in the paint along with several sets of medicine ball throws. “All of the core muscle is attached to the pelvis and rib cage,” Wright says “If I can teach the pelvis and rib cage to move in three planes of motion, I can get the core to understand it. In the lunge matrix, he lunges in every plane of motion he can (reach downs, twists and side bends) and then I use the medicine ball too, so his trunk creates another reaction.”

Following a stretching break, Wright prescribes these strength training exercises.

Routine #1
Four sets of five reps for each exercise
Squat Curl to Press with dumbbells
Sandbell slam
Medicine Ball dunks
Pivot High Row

Routine #2
Lateral to Press (4 sets, 3 reps)
Lateral Leap to Medicine Ball Dunk (He picks the medicine ball off the ground and explodes into a dunk in one movement)

Routine #3
Kettle Bell Deadlift (4 sets, 10 reps)
Shoulder Matrix (4 sets, 2 reps)
Split Stance Low Row (4 sets, 5 reps)

See Also:
Kevin Durant