Strength Coach Matt Eck

Strength Coach Matt Eck

School is back in session for the f­­­all semester.  That typically signals a return to campus normalcy for some student-athletes, with the level of activity soon rising in their lives.  Many of them have taken some time off over the summer.  But that’s simply not the case for Nevada Basketball.  The level of activity has been steady hovering just below ‘crazy’ on our scale for the past three months with the men’s basketball team.  Ten weeks of 4-days-per-week strength and performance training with me all leading up to an opportunity to compete for five games in eight days in Costa Rica…I believe we can call that hovering just below ‘crazy!’ 

            The team was dialed in and did a great job over that ten-week window of improving their athletic performance and becoming more efficient athletes.  Some guys developed more in the area of weight lifting, whereas other guys became more efficient with their energy system development.  All things considered, the before and after pictures speak for themselves in terms of overall development.  I’m really proud of the work they put in!

            I spend a gross amount of time talking to the guys about how to best improve their athletic performance.  Much of that centers around nutrition and sleep…two things that are religiously swept under the rug in collegiate athletics.  We take a very holistic, yet realistic, approach to nutrition.  I want our guys to understand how to fuel themselves on a day-to-day basis using REAL FOOD, not just supplements and shakes.  It is important for them to comprehend where to find REAL FOOD, how to go to a grocery store and shop for themselves.  I want them to know where their food came from and how processed foods or non-nutrient dense foods can be detrimental to their performance.  I am not a registered dietician, but it doesn’t take an RD to understand that there is not a “Flaming Hot Cheetos Tree” out there that produces those things.  Cheetos are a processed food that has a very, very low biological value in terms of nutrient density.  So, can I teach them where to find better options to fuel their bodies to play at an elite level?  YES!  Simply, that’s my goal in regards to anything that we may provide to them.  Better options that provide a teachable moment on how to better fuel our bodies.  To my knowledge, Nevada is the only Division 1 school that has developed and implemented our own proprietary protein blend for our student-athletes’ use.  The protein that we provide is based on that whole foods principle and allows me to teach the guys how best to fuel themselves each and every day, whether they know it or not. 

            At the end of the day, if I had to choose between nutrition/sleep and strength training/conditioning, I would choose teaching about nutrition/sleep every time because it can have a greater effect on the perceived ceiling of athletic performance.  Eventually, the lack of a solid nutritional plan will catch up to these guys.  They are young and can still overcome bad habits with great talent, but I am working to have them thrive in elite shape, not to survive in good shape.