Thursday, March 1, 2012

Interview With Jeremy's Trainer, Dr. Phil Wagner

We were very fortunate in getting this email interview with Dr. Phil Wagner, Founder and Coach at Sparta Performance Science. Dr. Phil and his crew were instrumental in getting Jeremy ready to succeed at the highest level in the NBA. 

When did you first start working with Jeremy?  

Phil: Last August on a referral from his skills coach Doc Scheppler.

How long did he work out with you? 

Phil: Through October, right before the lockout broke.

Was he just coming off his knee surgery when he started at Sparta?  

Phil: He was shortly removed from his procedure and looking for a place to seamlessly transition from rehab into performance training; a place where he could get the benefit of both.

I saw where he was only squating like 110 lbs coming in, was that due to the injury?  

Phil: The injury and lack of lower body maximal strength.

Is his knee 100%?  

Phil: Don't know if any pro athlete is ever 100% once the season starts but it is healthy and stable, yes.

What types of gains did you see with Jeremy over his time there? 

Phil: Jeremy gained 12 pounds (15 pounds of muscle), improved his standing jump by 3 1/2 inches, his running jump by 6 inches and his lateral quickness by 32 percent.

Is he still able to do some of your exercises while he is in New York? 

Phil: He does our "flexibility" routine for injury prevention, which consists of self myo-fascial release (rolling out), stability and mobility exercises everyday.

You work with elite high school, college, and pro athletes. How would you rate Jeremy as just an overall athlete? 

Phil: Obviously he is a special athlete otherwise he wouldn't be in the NBA, however when he came to us he had a lot of room for improvement physically.  

How much room for improvement does he have in regards to his explosiveness, quickness, and jumping ability?

Phil: We believe that everybody, even the pros that we deal with on a daily basis, have room for improvement.  

What type of work ethic did he demonstrate? 

Phil: An extremely high level of work ethic. The transformation he made is as much a testament to Jeremy's commitment and work ethic as they are to our program.

What impressed you most about Jeremy Lin?  

Phil: His work ethic and his confidence in himself and his abilities regardless of how many people doubted him.

Why is your training program so much more effective than say the normal training that a professional athlete may get with his team? 

Phil: One of our strengths is our ability to pinpoint, through our force plate technology and coaching experience, exactly which specific areas need to be improved most in each individual we train.

It looks like Jeremy can still fill out a bit in his upper body. What do you see as an optimal weight for him in the next year or two? 

Phil: That will depend on how he moves, obviously increased muscle mass will improve his Ground Reaction Force (GRF) which is the major component in running faster and jumping higher, however, we will use his Force Plate scan to determine his optimal body weight based on GRF and relative strength (strength relative to body mass).

Have you been watching his games? Are you caught up in the Lin-sanity like everyone else? 

Phil: We enjoy seeing all of the success Jeremy is having; it is well deserved and it couldn't happen to a more humble and level headed athlete..

Have you been able to keep up with the demand?  

Phil: It has definitely brought Sparta to the attention of many other athletes who we look forward to helping achieve success as well.


  1. Great interview. Very informative, insightful, and assuring. Thanks a lot!

  2. It's interesting, the NBA is full of speedy 170-180 lb. point guards. But in this case, the trainers want Lin to GAIN some weight so he can run faster and jump higher ?

    Shouldn't he be losing weight while increasing muscle tone so he can be faster ?

    A lot of critics are now calling him a "weak defender". I think his defense was much better last year when he shut down John Wall and Aaron Brooks in match ups by staying in front of them. Could it be the extra lbs. that are making him less able to guard fast point guards ?


      He has increased his vertical leap by 3.5 inches, his lateral quickness by 33%, and I believe he is now more explosive (transient starts, stops, and stutter steps) - there was fluff ESPN sport science piece that said he accelerates from 0 - 10 mph just like John Wall now (though obviously would get blow away running from baseline to baseline).

    2. Being able to stay in front of and contain opposing point guard I think is more a reflection of how fresh and springy his body and legs feel (first game versus Deron Williams where he was able to nimbly dart around all obstacles Nets put in place to get Derron Williams free and contain him at initial point of attack) vs. second game (not as fresh legs, and STAT behind him not rotating properly on defense and helping make him look bad on defense that game).

    3. Gain muscle, not necessarily bodyweight, more muscle will iimprove body composition (lower bodyfat%) at similar bodyweight.

  3. Lin is a "weak defender" because most people think that Asians can't play defense.

    It's just like how Steve Nash gets criticized for poor defense because he's a white point guard. The truth is that scouts routinely report that Steve Nash is excellent at keeping his man in front of him and also is too strong to be posted up.

    Lin is a solid position defender who is unable to go all out because of fears of foul trouble. He could easily be a low usage defensive stopper like Keith Bogans or Bruce Bowen if teams used him that way.

    NBA point guards known for their defense typically have top defensive big men behind them. That's how an average individual defender like Rajon Rondo can be made to look like a defensive superstar.

  4. Any specific numbers that Lin jumped standing and running?

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