Pacers add Andy Martin to training staff

The Indiana Pacers have added to their roster behind the scenes. Andy Martin has joined the franchise as the assistant sports performance coach.

Martin was brought on for a number of reasons. As technology throughout the game enhances, the Pacers continue to increase their involvement in sports science and analytics. Injuries have obviously been a struggle for the team this season, with players missing a combined 149 games, so rehabilitation has taken a larger focus.

Moreover, it’s also part of the Pacers’ ongoing mission to provide elite care for their players. The basketball side of the franchise has created six new positions, by my unofficial count, over the last two seasons. The hiring of Martin being the latest one.

Martin and Windle (standing behind the bench in black and blue, respectively) in their usual position for Pacers home games.

“It is also to keep up with everybody else in the NBA,” head strength and conditioning coach Shawn Windle said. “Every team, with the exception of two, has an assistant strength coach at this point so we felt it was important to increase the level of service that are players were getting. It allows more flexibility to individualize programs and to get specific exercises for rehabilitation guys.”

Like Paul George, George Hill, and Ian Mahinmi.

Windle, named the NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2012 by the National Basketball Strength & Conditioning Association (NBSCA), focuses on the rehabilitation of players and can now spend more time looking into and developing programs tailored to each player.

Meantime, Martin handles the day-to-day items, although there will be plenty of overlap.

Martin, 28, started in full-time capacity on December 7 (also Larry Bird’s birthday) and already, he has split some of the travel duties with Windle.

“For the games that we have players stay home (which has been more prevalent this season),” Windle said, “now we can have somebody that stays home and works those guys out. It just gives an extra layer of service to make sure these players are getting what they need.”

It’s often said how internships can essentially be job interviews — at least if the intern approaches it that way. Well, that holds true for Martin, who got his in with the franchise as Windle’s intern four years ago while finishing up school over at IUPUI.

“He did a great job. He’s the best intern that I’ve had and it was really an easy decision for me,” Windle said, which is telling coming from him.

Inside the locker room, the team has a long history of bringing former successful interns on board full-time: Vance Catlin (pro scout), Hansen Wong (video coordinator), assistant video coordinators Jhared Simpson and Mike DiBenedetto, and basketball operations administrative assistants Chris Taylor and Aaron Weaver.

Martin boosts the already highly-regarded training staff, a bunch that has been together for a decade.

“Having been here before, I have a much easier transition back into this operation,” Martin said. “The learning curve was a lot shorter.”

After graduation, Martin was the head strength coach for a professional basketball team in Hong Kong. Once that concluded, he returned to the States and worked with alpine athletes — notably hockey and soccer players — in Colorado.

“I feel like my adaptability to individual guys and ability to learn on the fly is my biggest underlying asset,” he continued. “Everything else you got to keep learning.”

There’s no doubt about that. Who could have predicted the impact technology has made, and will continue to have, on sports. More than ever before, players (and the their teams) know every little thing about their bodies.

Windle and the now four-man training staff (trainers Josh Corbeil and Carl Eaton) evaluate so much in regards to sports performance. That includes sleep, nutrition, travel schedules, weight lifting sessions, the amount of work the players are doing on the court, at practices and on their off days. During practices, many players wear small devices on a dry-fit undershirt that monitors mechanical and physiological load.

“With as much that is out there right now, we can measure these guys in ways that we just couldn’t do a year or even two ago,” Windle said.

Another source of information comes from the SportVU cameras, which were installed in every arena by the start of the 2013-14 season. Some key data items: average intensity per minute, change in direction, and how fast each player is moving.

“It just creates unbelievable amounts of data,” Windle added on SportVU.

The hiring of Martin came together pretty quick. Martin worked hard and made a positive impact as an intern four years ago, something Windle did not forget.

Now, he’s part of the team.

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