When the upcoming NBA season kicks off, the Los Angeles Clippers will be one of the teams expected to contend for a title. The only thing that has stood in the way of the franchise from fulfilling those expectations the last four seasons has been health. Arriving to the Clippers last season via trade, Norman Powell is excited to get the season underway as he knows that if healthy, no team boasts the depth and matchup problems they do.
It’s been one of the busiest offseasons in the shooting guard’s career, managing a schedule that includes three-a-day workouts, traveling, family, friends and expanding his Understand The Grind brand. M&F caught up with the nine-year veteran after an afternoon workout session to discuss how his offseason approach hasn’t changed, why he still enjoys competing in pick-up runs and how meticulous he is when it comes to taking care of his body year-round.
MF: How did the ‘Understand The Grind’ concept begin and when did you decide to turn it into a brand?
Norman Powell: Honestly, it was never the plan to have a brand or clothing line. Honestly, the mantra came from me and my friends growing up. One of them was having a conversation about how come so many top players coming out of San Diego don’t make it or don’t seem to last. One of my boys said because they don’t understand the grind. They don’t understand what it takes to be successful. From there, we used that saying as a motivational tool to keep going and to go after our goals and dreams and not let anything stop us.
From there, it kind of just took off organically. I was add it underneath different posts on social media. When I had my first basketball camp back home in San Diego for the youth, we had t -shirts and things made for the players and for the coaches. When I was in Toronto, the dans wanted a shirt from the camp. We decided to just try it out and see what happens and just took off from there. But the main goal was to continue to motivate, not only our group, our family, our friends, but the next generations that are striving for success and going after the goals.
How do you usually handle your workload progression in the offseason?
I’ll take about two or three weeks to do completely nothing. I’ll go on a trip, see family, and friends and just chill out. Then, I can’t sit still and that’s kind of been a development over the course of my career. Before, I’d only take about two days off and tell my trainer, let’s get some shots up, form shooting, stationary ball handling. I couldn’t get away from it because I always wanted to improve and I was eager to get back out there. Now, I’ll take two weeks just to let my body calm down and decompress and get my mind away from it a little bit. Then, I’ll start to slowly get my body active. I’ll do like hot pilates, yoga — just to get my body moving and ready to go. So I do two weeks of like hot pilates, impact workouts and after those two weeks, I’ll start to incorporate, stationary things like ball handling, form shooting to get back on the court. Then it’s a buildout process on how we’re going to ramp up through the course of the summer.
How has the approach to taking care of your body changed as you’ve gotten further along in your career?
My approach has definitely changed. You know when you’re younger and you think you can eat some junk food and be alright and be able to get your body weight to a certain number going into training camp. As you get older, it’s a little bit harder to do that, so you’re working out a little bit more. Having a chef to find different diets that work well with my body, doing food allergy tests to see the food spikes you don’t get to see when you’re just stepping on a scale. You actually see how your body responds to eating apples, cashews, pork, red meats and fish.By doing that, I’m going to be able to extend and have more longevity to my career.
This season, I didn’t want to go through a lot of fluctuations with my weight. I wanted to have a good baseline throughout the summer to manage some of those nagging injuries. I had a foot injury coming in after being traded and some tendonitis in my knee, so I wanted to you know get a head start on that so I’m not battling through that throughout the course of the season. It was about having my diet on point from start to finish and being really strict on what I do eat and when I can have a cheat meal—just to have some balance in life. I really focus on my diet and doing the things that I need to do to help my body recover. I have a personal PT working on my body before and after workouts at the end of the day, a two-hour recovery session so my body can be ready to go the next day.
Do your objectives change each offseason?
Honestly, I approach every single offseason in the same way, which has been a good and bad thing, especially talking to [Clippers head coach] T. Lue and [general manager] Mark Hughes and [president of basketball operations] Lawrence Frank. They’re always like, “You’re working too hard and you don’t need to do three workouts a day.” I have such high expectations and how I view myself that I’m always trying to push and get better. I think the biggest thing that I have that a lot of players don’t is that I have a personal basketball trainer that I’ve been working with since pre-draft in Austin Diggs.
He’s always breaking down films for me throughout the course of the year, giving me my numbers after 10 or 15 game to see analytically where I’m at, where I struggled at and where I excelled. At the end of the season, he’ll do a full season analysis and that kind of dictates and tells you what you need to work on going into the summer. It’s always about getting better and trying to find ways to improve. I always say I like to make my weaknesses, my strength and my strength stronger, and that’s my focus going into every single offseason.
You’re one of the guys who plays pick-up in the summer and a lot of guys prefer just drill work. Why does playing pick-up suit you?
I think it’s different for everybody. I’ve seen the best guys not play pick-up and come in and average 30 like it’s nothing. I’ve seen guys struggle with not playing and it takes a few games to get their feet underneath them. I love playing pick-up because I love competing. I do so much working out. I’ll do three workouts a day, five days a week, individually, throughout the course of the summer. Being able to go up against other guys who aren’t in your workouts, don’t know what you’ve been working on and are playing defense to take you out of some things—you get to actually work on some of the stuff that you drilled on, and that you’re trying to improve on.
You can do it in live action. That way, you can go back and say this work, this move worked, this shot I liked, this is what I don’t like. I want to add this. I need to strengthen up my handle, my finishing going left—whatever it is against live competition. You listen to All The Smoke and Matt Barnes and Jack talk about all summer, there weren’t really individual workouts back then. They would go to different cities and play pick up with different guys and that’s how they got better. I like to go against free flowing competition and see the work that I put in unfold through five on five.
What ways have you found to combat the stress placed on your body from the travel you guys go through?
Using all the tools available. Foam rolling, getting in the cold tub, hot tub, using those compression pants that you wear underneath your sweats when you’re traveling—that’s supposed to combat inflammation. I do it all. Drinking tart cherry juice, beet juice. Those are the things that a lot of people don’t see us doing. They see us go out there and perform, but I’m getting my body worked on every single day after every session, especially in the off season because I put my body through so much. It’s about making sure that everything is lined up and going well. During the season, you’re just staying up to date with your trainers, doing like, BFR, which is blood flow restriction training, where it’s not wear and tear, like lifting heavy weights, but more body weight stuff and it’s low impact. You’re still getting the gains that you need and your body is recovering naturally through the hormonal responses from cutting off circulation in the different parts of your body.
With training camp beginning in a few weeks and you guys getting a chance to gel more, how excited are you for the upcoming season?
I’m excited every single season. I’ve been fortunate enough throughout my career to be on a championship team. I’m always excited to go into the season, especially with the team that we have. I think the biggest thing that everybody is worried about is just the health factor. You want to stay healthy so you can be ready for those playoff battles. You look at Denver. They were a team that was hanging around for a few years. A few injuries here and there that take them out of it and they finally get fully healthy and they’re able to win the title. I think we have that team but we just need a little bit of luck to go our way and guys to be healthy up and down the board.
I think we get a lot of flack for [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] being out, but some of those injuries we can’t control. They’re not going out there trying to get hurt. We’re going out there, laying it on the line so we can be in the playoffs and fight for the title. Hopefully this year, we can get a full season in. As long as we’re all clicking and rolling at the end of the season and ready to go for the playoffs, I think that’s the main focus. If we can do that, we have a really good chance at winning it all. I’m really excited about this year and the team that we have with the different pieces that we’re going to be able to play and move around to give teams different looks night in and night out. We have different guys that will be able to step up and be the guy each night because we have so many weapons.
Norman Powell Total Body Strength/ Conditioning Day Workout
- Tri Stretch – Ankle Dorsiflexion (Calf Mobility)
- True Stretch – Quad Hip Flexor Stretch
- True Stretch – Lateral Hip Stretch
- Mobility Stick – T- Spine Rotation
- DB RFE: 3 sets, 3-8 reps each (Heavy Slow Resisted Training)
- Keiser Drop Step Row: 3 sets, 3-8 reps each
- Banded Squat External Rotation: 3 sets, 30 seconds each
- Barbell Glute Bridge: 3 sets, 3-8 reps
- DB 1-arm Curl to Press: 3 sets, 3-8 reps
- MB SL Balance Throws: 3 sets, 10 reps (each side)
- DB CL Lunge Matrix: 3 sets, 2 reps at each spot (3 spots – forward, lateral, drop step)
- Keiser X High Row: 3 sets, 3-8 reps each
- Keiser Palloff Press: 3 sets, 10 reps with 10-second hold
- Versaclimber: 10 sets, 60 seconds (aim for 175-200 ft each set)
1 min rest between each rep.
Follow Norman on Instagram @normanpowell4