The Last Dance documentary has been one of the most popular programs on television this year. During the ten-part series, flashes of training have been shared—sometimes out of context and without explanation. During both of the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs, Al Vermeil was at the helm on the performance side, organizing training and ensuring wisdom was part of the equation.
Instead of summarizing that training process in a typical blog format, we decided to interview Coach Vermeil and ask the right questions to hear directly from the source. Al Vermeil is one of the most respected strength and conditioning processionals for his work with MLB, NBA, and NFL champion athletes, and in this interview Coach Vermeil covers more than just sets and reps—he reveals the heart of the profession and offers us all a roadmap to becoming a better coach.
1. From High School Sport Coaching to the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bulls
Jumping into the conversation mid-stream, Coach Vermeil elaborates on the art of coaching, answering questions from Derek Hansen and Rob Panariello on how leadership works in strength and conditioning, as well as knowing how to load athletes beyond the barbell. In this entertaining segment, Coach Vermeil shares numerous anecdotes and bits of advice on the key skills of working in a team setting.
2. Testing and Assessment: “Can They Play”
Fielding more of our questions, Coach Vermeil discusses the role of testing and assessment in the player selection process, and shares his parting advice on coaching from a career that has spanned decades.
3. The Bulls and How They Trained
Chronologically, this is the opening of the conversation and dives in with how different players on the Bulls approached strength training. The first twenty minutes of this segment can be a little choppy on the video side, but the audio is clear and filled with stories about training many of the great Bulls players featured in The Last Dance.
Al Vermeil’s career in strength and conditioning spanned for decades, but even if you are not a strength coach (or not a coach at all), it’s a worthwhile interview about how to work with people. Many coaches who get into the field of strength and conditioning want to coach the best athletes they can, but starting out at the high school level and slowly working your way up to the top is an effective path to improvement, as opposed to chasing the next big-time logo.
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