Podcast 15: Richard Williams (NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach, USA)

Podcast 15: Richard Williams (NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach, USA)

24/02/2022 By: Ismael Fernández & Víctor Escamilla Home

? In the fifteenth episode of “Thermography: Science, Health and Sport” we introduce Richard Williams, Strength and Conditioning coach in the NBA and working with NBA All-Stars is just a part of my fitness story, USA.

? Richard Williams, former NBA strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, brings 20 years of training with the aim to improve performance.

⛹️‍♂️ Richard Williams is a performance enhancement specialist through preparing players for all practices and games; treating and rehabilitating players’ injuries in conjunction with the team physician and training staff; ordering inventory and training room supplies; developing and maintenance of training and conditioning programs throughout the year; participation in the college draft, summer league programs, and other off-season programs involving players; planning and supervising assistant strength and conditioning coach’s duties and responsibilities.

? In this podcast he talks about how to implement thermography in high performance, how to use thermography as an injury prevention tool and how thermography assists them to control overactive muscles to make exercise decision-making in order to restore the muscular balance with strength training.

? We talked to him in order to go deep in the application of thermography for injury prevention purpose with strength training.

Exactly, we correlated with our force plates, with what medical team see and other things that we use. So we put it all together. But the images, we start with the images, they give us a great idea where do we wanna go

Richard Williams, NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach


Ismael (I): Hello everyone, welcome to a new episode from our podcast Thermography, science, health, and research. Today, I’m very happy to introduce you to a very special professional we are collaborating with, his name is Richard, Richard Williams. Thank you for being here and I’m welcome.

Richard (R ): No problem, thank you for having me, I’m excited.

I: Richard is a strength and conditioning coach and he has been working for different NBA teams Today, we want to know more about his approach, his experience using thermography with their players, so as we normally do, I would like to start asking you, how do you first hear about thermography, when was the first time you were knowing about this technology?.

R: I believe it was, um it was with my former NBA team that I worked for like, I mean going back I was always kind of curious, I’m always challenging my workouts and I’m challenging my assessments and it’s just, I was always wondering like man, I would love to have a system that helps me pinpoint overactive muscles most of them tend to be tightened but, just something I’ve always been that’s kind of my specialty as a strength coach I’ve kind of got into that, that part of being a strength coach so, I was always very curious about most of the imbalances, overactive muscles, all that kind of stuff so, I believe, I was with my other team and, I can’t remember how I stumbled upon you guys, but I remembered it was introduced to me and I fell in love with it, and I’m like this is exactly what I’m looking for, you know? so it was quite a way, it was a waste when I kind of heard about you guys, and kind of fell in love with your product, I mean, it was perfect for me.

I: And then, from this moment until now, how you have been involved in using this technology, how are you using thermography on a daily basis?

R: Yeah, well for example with athletes every once a week we take images and we take those images and it’s just honestly, it’s becoming a great debate unless I’m medical team so, I go to look at these images, figure out first where is coming from, but in second, how do we solve it, but these images have just given us a starting point. For example, if we see something like the TFL is overactive, we can start the brainstorming, where is coming from, how we can fix the problem, and everything so, that’s how we use it, so once we get these images, we like to get four images you know, in a row and that’s when we kind of have our debate on what we see and how we can fix the problems that we’re seeing from the images.

I: And, are you correlating the thermographic information with other technologies?.

R: Exactly, we correlated with our force plates, with the medical team sees, and other things that we use so, we put it all together but, the images we start with the image, it gives us a great idea of what we kinda wanna go.

” Exactly, we correlated thermography with our force plates, with the medical team sees, and other things that we use so […]”

Richard Williams

I: Okey. And, from the main application so, the main benefit you are extracting from thermography it is prevention, it is injury follow up, what is for you main benefits?.

R: For us, it’s all about injury prevention. You know, I mean, in our world recovery is really tough so we don’t really have that advantage of saying let’s use our tools for recovery so much as, let’s use our tools to pinpoint injury prevention things that could be injury problems later on down the line, so is most definitely injury prevention for us.

“For us, the main benefit it’s all about injury prevention […]”

Richard Williams

I: And I have heard you saying that for you since you are using thermography is for you a game-changer, so let’s say, which offers you the main benefits of using this technology?

R: I think recognizing, is simple for us.  It was a game-changer where we were able to recognize overactive muscles and validate them. It is so funny like, we would we will look at our images and it is either, a massage therapist or our head trainer to be like, wow I see the exact same thing. That’s game-changing for us,  so now it is almost, I hate to see it kind of makes us lazy because we could just look at the images be like, oh that’s the problem it’s let´s go fix it, instead of you know, in the days where we have to go searching, we have to do this, we have to do that, it’s just I mean but, it’s great for our farmers when we don’t have a lot of time to search my answers so anything that gets us to the answer quickly and so we can go fix it it’s great for us but,  I knew it was great when our training staff started to say they were seeing the same thing that the images were seen.

“I think recognizing… is simple for us. It was a game-changer where we were able to recognize overactive muscles and validate them […]”

Richard Williams

I: So, there is a correlation obviously not in all cases, but based on your experiences this correlation, which is obviously a game-changer for you, right?

R: Yes, yes.

I: But also, my other question obviously, it is not just speaking about good things but, I would like also ask you, what do you think that are the main limitations of thermography?

R: You know what, I think the limitations are very few because, first of all, it’s easy to use, it doesn’t take a lot of time to to get images which are great but, I think the next step for us is, how do we pick the right exercises that help with the images that we see, you know? that’s kind of the next step for me as really diving into deep to pinpoint the individualized exercises that helped correct what we’re seeing from the images, you know? so the next step I guess would be, and I can’t call it a negative thing but, it’s just the future, being able to do something where we can have the images and go along with prescribing the right exercise if I could say, you know? but like I said it’s really no downside to it, you know? especially in our Bible where we need something where we can get images right away, download them and analyze them, so other than just looking towards the future to be able to do exercise prescriptions I mean, that’s pretty much all I got.

“I think the limitations are very few because, first of all, it’s easy to use, it doesn’t take a lot of time to to get images […], so the next step I guess would be prescribing the right exercise […]”

Richard Williams

I: So basically, because my last question normally is, how do you think that it’s going to be the future or the main improvements and you already describing that so, it is an exercise prescription, right?.

R: Yes, yes, it’s I mean, that’s the next step for strength and condition, you know? because you know, you gotta realize in my field, not every strength coach is into the imbalances of at all, they’re into the exercise prescription so, you know, for me it fits me perfectly because, I’m into overactive muscle imbalances but, for some strength coaches they wanna know, okay how does this help me with exercise prescription, you know. 

I: That’s good, that’s great. And obviously, without mentioning the name and finally, I would like to ask you, have you in mind any special case you remember where thermography help you a lot, for special injury or special player before an important match, something that is significant?

R: That’s a good question, I’ve been honest with you. It’s been such a game-changer for us, it’s been helping us every week but, we had one case where we couldn’t figure it out and I remembered it kept showing the signs, showing the signs, showing the signs and, I’m just like, and I hate to say this, because you wanna get to the problem of what happens but, then a problem happens. Then me and my colleague went back and said, wow, it was showing those signs all along you know, but that´s for me, that´s validation, that’s letting me know, okay you know, it works, pay attention to the signs that the images are showing you and work on correcting them so when we had that little spout with that particular individual we actually became believers in the images, even more, you know?. 

I: Actually, at least for all of us, normally we start with theory, we present but, the key moment is when you try with yourself and then you realize, wow come on, it is true I had a problem in that part. But, in the case you mention, which kind of injury was it?

R: It was a knee

I: It was a knee problem, okay.

R: Yeah, yeah. 

I: So it was showing an alarm in the knee before it happens. 

R: But what was interesting though, it show the knee but it showed all the things that particularly could cause the knee to have the issues. That’s what I look at like I bought I’ve never been the president look at the source of pain, I look at what’s causing the source of pain, you know? So, all these things that we knew that would cause just gotta have that particular injury, was showing up on the images.

I: And that´s the point of starting believing in the technology, right?.

R: Exactly, start to believe in the technology, exactly. And that’s specially made me a believer.

I: So, as I mentioned, we are very grateful to have your insights and your experience so, thank you very much, I really appreciate your time and this information which I hope that we can still keep on improving technology so, we can provide better services and so you can carry on using thermography. Thank you very much for your time, Richard.

R: No problem, thank you.

I: So take care.

R: Alright, have a good one.

If you have any questions or would like to make a comment, do not hesitate to write to us. We will be glad to read you.

Europa Thermohuman ThermoHuman has had the support of the Funds of the European Union and the Community of Madrid through the Operational Programme on Youth Employment. Likewise, ThermoHuman within the framework of the Export Initiation Program of ICEX NEXT, had the support of ICEX and the co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

CDTI Thermohuman has received funding from the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), in participation with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), for the R+D activities involved in creating a new tool, based on thermography, for the prediction and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. See project detail.