Interview with Jay DeMayo – U of Richmond’s S&C Coach

This is part 10 of the Freelap Friday Five Series, Season Three. To review the past 38 interviews, click here.

Part 1 was Jeff Cubos, Chiropractor and Performance Therapist

Part 2 was John Godina, World Athletics Center founder & Elite Shot Putter

Part 3 was Questions & Answers from Peter Weyand’s Research

Part 4 was Dr. Thomas Lam, focusing on Movement Based Sports Science

Part 5 was Landon Evans, Strength & Conditioning Coach & Nutrition Coordinator

Part 6 was Gabe Sanders, Assistant T&F coach of Boston University

Part 7 was Dr Jess Greaux, on Rehab and Biomechanics

Part 8 was Merlene Ottey – Queen of the Track

Part 9 was So You Want to Be a Decathlete? w/ Eric Broadbent


Jay DeMayo has been the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Men’s and Women’s Basketball at the University of Richmond since October 2005.  Jay is a graduate of the State University of New York College at Cortland where he was a two year starter on the Men’s Soccer team.

Jay DeMayo

Prior to taking over the responsibilities of Men’s and Women’s Basketball at UR Jay worked with every team on campus as the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach working.  During his tenure at Richmond, Coach DeMayo has worked with five All-Americans, and 10 Atlantic 10 championship teams.  Presently Jay is also responsible for the dry land training for NOVA Aquatics LLC, one of the top youth swim clubs on the eastern seaboard where he has coached over twenty athlete’s whom have qualified for Olympic Trials.

Coach DeMayo’s constant effort to better himself as a coach has brought him numerous certifications.  Coach DeMayo has his Level I coaching certification from USA Track and Field, is certified as an American Kettlebell Club Coach, United States Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Central Virginia Sport Performance will be hosting their fourth annual Seminar with Henk Kraaijenhof and Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuck. Click here for details.

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Interview with Jay DeMayo – University of Richmond’s S&C Coach

Freelap Friday Five

Question 1:  Jay, your conference is one of the best in North America for performance coaches and you bring a more boutique style of education catered to the very sophisticated. What you feel is the key for coaches learning with case studies and applied sport science? Should every coach present their system and results to better learn as well as share?

Jay DeMayo: First, thank you for the kind words. As anyone who has put together an event together knows, it’s a tireless effort, so knowing that people are appreciative of the information we provide is very nice to hear.

Now, to be completely honest with you, the idea of having the scientific discussion followed by the “case study”, or shall we say “Monday morning info” just makes sense to me. I think that in many cases, coaches go to these continuing education opportunities for one of three reasons: 1) networking, 2) to get new “ideas” and see what others are doing, 3) to improve their scientific knowledge of training. Now, if you compare the set up to the list or reasons people attend, 2 of the 3 are taken care of right away, and the third, well that’s easy, just come out to the bar. For me selfishly though, after I saw Ben Peterson (I think it’s DOCTOR Peterson now actually), give his talk on his dissertation, I just sat back and said YES YES YES. He gave the science, what he did, what he found, what he liked and what he didn’t. He talked about how it could work in other settings as well.

Other than, in my opinion, being the ideal set up for learning practical info, you now have an opening for REAL discussion, so it could go something like this, Coach A-“well I did x and got y results”, Coach B- “really, well I did x and got z results.”, Coach C-“huh, cause I did x and we didn’t see anything happen at all.” Well, now the coaches can talk about this and figure out what is up and down so to say. The final reason is that people like to talk about, doing this for that, but no one ever talks about results.

Ok, so doing specific exercises show an increase in glute activation.  Great, but do they move better? An individual’s FMS showed a 1 in movement A so they did B, C, and C to improve that to a 2 or a 3.   That’s awesome, but can the kid perform at a higher level? I’m not saying that these things aren’t important, I’m saying that at the end of the day we need to understand what we are doing is improving the athletes ability to perform in their sporting activity, everything else is sort of secondary fluff to me. So, short story long, I think that all in all it provides a better learning set up, both as a presentation, and discussion generator later.

Question 2: You do a lot with HRV testing as well as looking at data from all areas. Could you get into why coaches need to do a better job collecting and analyzing their program but not loose in the trenches style of instruction and leadership? It seems that we either have meatheads or lab geeks. Can we do both without compromise?

Jay DeMayo:  HAHA, Pandora’s Box here we come.  Ok, yes we do utilize HRV, I have the OmegaWave and I love it.  It has made me a better coach.  I feel like Aladdin and now see “A Whole New World” (yup, just said that…) that is just starting to unveil in front of my eyes.  Not so much BECAUSE of using it, but DUE to using it.  You now find an exponentially large amount of questions in front of you, which to me, is just rad.  At the end of the day though, the goal is still the same.

Give them as much as they need to adapt, not as much as they can handle.  We don’t need to get into the great lecture of “anyone can make a hard workout” and all that bull shit, because it’s tired and old.  I think that the one thing I have started to figure out is that you need to find trends.  Looking at delta scores where we improve and how our “readiness” is at those times.  Looking at the different readings from the OmegaWave and seeing where they were and how those changes were occurring at those times, or before them and after them.  That’s what it’s about.  It’s not just about 1 little piece and going crazy over it.

How does that actually help you?  What does it mean about how they WILL perform today AND tomorrow?  That’s what you need to figure out with monitoring.  Also, as I’m sure I’ll say a million times, it doesn’t matter if they’re not getting better.  Can they jump higher, run faster, cut better?  If not, then none of the tech you use matters, you’re just a coach with cool stuff who doesn’t get people better.

Question 3: Basketball is dealing with a lot of problems with hard surfaces and playing indoors nearly year round. What are your thoughts on tempo running outside when the weather is good on the grass? Is this strange or a pleasant change of pace? How does one keep fit without pounding the guys into the ground?

Jay DeMayo:  Actually I think that’s a great idea.  We run our tempo’s on field turf, so that’s similar.  To be completely frank, with the new rules allowing the coaches to have access to the kids for 44 weeks out of the year I’m starting to lean more and more towards the lower end work for conditioning because so much of the skill work is done at a “high speed”.  Even work in the 140-150 bpm range on a treadmill or elliptical has shown great improvements in recovery heart rates during practice, plus it’s so low intensive that the kids can handle it while practicing.  Add that in with being able to do it on an elliptical instead of running, and you got a winner there.

If we do run, we do tempos, and as I said earlier those are always done on field turf.  With understanding when to pull in the reigns a bit, we ask the kids, we look at our monitoring systems, look at performance measures, and we look at how they’re practicing.  If we’re not getting better, we start cutting back.  It’s really that simple.

Question 4: Any good tips on leg training for basketball players? It seems like the challenge of tall athletes and getting good strong legs isn’t easy. Any ideas on some of the unilateral and bilateral controversy? What are you principles of leg training?

Jay DeMayo:  Ah, the controversy.  Honestly, who cares?  I have been taught by many disciples of Dr. Yessis and the man himself.  I have also learned quite a bit from Dr. Natalia Verkhoshansky.  Both of them say squat.  My guys squat, even the seven footer I had squatted.  Do they squat to USAPL depth?  No, of course not.  I think people get too uptight about that.  I understand that there are changes in the recruitment when you reach certain depths, blah blah blah, ok I get you, but does it matter?  Can you show me that ½ squat produces great speed improvements than ¼ squat?

I know it’s a different exercise, but what are we after?  We want them to get better at basketball, not squatting.  Also, Buddy Morris said something to the point of sprinting will make you squat more, but squatting more won’t make you sprint faster.  So with that in mind we do a lot of work on sprinting, and have begun adding more short (20-30 yard) sprints into what we do.  When it comes to principles, strengthen the major joint actions of the body, improve the general, build to the specific, and finalize with specialized work.  Most of that comes directly from how Doc progresses things, but the jumping/explosive work is pretty much a direct copy of Verkhoshansky.

Question 5: Nutrition and sleep are clearly a challenge with college athletes. How do you motivate and educate to get your athletes and club sport athletes to make the sacrifice? Any suggestions here?

Jay DeMayo:  My first piece of advice would be to hire a nutritionist or a dietitian and get out of the way.  Let them build a relationship with the kids, then start to build one with them.  Show this person what you see, what you do, how you monitor the kids, how you see things going, so on and so forth.  We all know that nutrition is so important in the development of the athlete, but unfortunately it’s not something that many kids I have encountered have taken as seriously as they probably should.  I’m sure there are a million different reasons to why this is the case, but honestly it’s probably just out of ease of choices that they make the decisions they do.  With that being said, based on NCAA Rules, what we can control is one meal a day, so we try to make that as “fulfilling” as possible.  We monitor caloric expenditure in practice and look at the meal we provide with body weight and how they recovery to determine what we are going to give them for breakfast.

The problem is, that’s only 1 meal.  Sure we give them a post workout drink, but what’s that really?  So we’re batting 1 for 3, which would put us in the Hall Of Fame if we played in Major League Baseball, but we’re talking about how we are fueling our bodies, where, no pun intended, you can lead the horse to water but can never make him drink.  Sleep is a whole different animal.  With the rigors of class we have here, it’s not a weird day to see a kid who’s only slept a couple hours, if at all.  The kids know they need to sleep, they know that pulling an “all-nighter” isn’t the right thing to do, but they also know they have to keep their GPA up, so they have to do what they have to do.  Unfortunately, it’s just part of the gig, you do what you can when you can.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • Not sure if Jay will stop by but I’d be interested in hearing more about HRV use in a team setting. How does it impact program design or practice schedules? After finding enough trends, do you find that you’re now able to predict them? Drive down the same road enough times and pretty soon we know it like the back of our hands. Is HRV radically different?