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Zion Williamson will start the season in ‘fantastic’ shape

The state of health of Zion Williamson has been one of the great focuses of debate in the NBA and one of the biggest headaches for the New Orleans Pelicans since he landed in the league in 2019. Although he has dominated when he has had the opportunity to Playing with some regularity, the prodigious talent has had many injury problems, which have prevented him from showing his full potential. After spending the entire 2021-22 season shutout, Zion has missed a total of 141 games in the first three years of his career.

Now, the player, franchise and environment believe that they have taken a fundamental step to solve all the problems that have revolved around his weight and physical problems. The Pelicans star has returned to New Orleans after spending the last two months in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, executing a meticulous plan designed with his strength and conditioning coach, Jasper Bibbs, to prepare for the new season. Bibbs himself has stated in an interview for The Athletic that the results have been “phenomenal”.

“He’s in fantastic shape,” the personal trainer began. «He has promised to work day after day. I am very proud of what he has been able to accomplish. It has been phenomenal. I am very happy with his commitment and the progress he has made, which has put him in a great position, mentally and physically. Ultimately, we wanted to make him a more resilient and highly efficient athlete and allow him to perform at a very high level while staying healthy over the course of a full season and postseason.”

“This summer, we came up with a plan. He committed to the plan. We wanted Zion to not only have a great individual season, but we also wanted to focus on what he could do to help the team win. We wanted to develop him so that he would be tougher and better handle the demands of being a very explosive athlete for his size.”

“We focus on addressing body composition (your body weight, body fat, etc.) while maintaining and improving flexibility, strength, and power. We also focus on improving your overall fitness. The more weight you have, the more stress you put on your body. We focus on basketball-specific aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. One of the main goals was to get Zion back to the same athletic ability that she had before the injury. In the process, she has improved athletically. I really think he is a better athlete now than he was before. Once they see it on the court, I think they’ll agree. He is now a better athlete than ever. »

Bibbs completed five seasons as a member of the Utah Jazz’s strength and conditioning staff, where he developed a strong relationship with then-team star Donovan Mitchell. That bond was a big part of Zion hiring him to take his physique to a new level while he eventually made a full recovery from his foot injury. The two worked closely during Williamson’s rehab stint in Portland. Later, Bibbs continued to be an important figure for the player once he returned to the team’s discipline in March.

“He has tremendous speed and the ability to change direction without sacrificing speed, which ties into better body control through training and multiple planes of motion. Having such amazing body control for a guy that size is really rare. We wanted him to be able to handle those incredible forces that he creates when he jumps, when he runs, and in particular during those change of direction movements. It means you can slow down, but then speed up in a way that doesn’t sacrifice speed and you can run it safely.

“No one at this stage in their career is going to be able to improve their body composition, body control and overall athleticism without putting in a tremendous amount of work. He has had a daily commitment over the summer, getting up early to exercise at five in the morning and coming back at seven in the evening. He did it like clockwork. The key was for him to commit and realize that the plan was working while he saw the results. »

If all this process transformation body moves to the track once the season starts, the Pelicans will have nothing to do but look to the future with a healthy dose of optimism.

(Portrait photograph by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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