Strength is Never a Weakness: “The Hudy Effect” in Austin, Texas

The strength of the Texas basketball team is – more than ever before – its strength.

The gifted young men in burnt orange are a little bigger this year, a little stronger, a touch more powerful. Some call it “the Hudy effect.”

In August of 2019, Andrea Hudy took over as Head Coach for Basketball Strength & Conditioning. It is a move that might have tilted the college basketball landscape in the direction of Austin Texas.

Hudy spent the previous 15 years in Lawrence, Kansas, where she helped build the Kansas Jayhawks into a perennial powerhouse. During her time there, the team qualified for the NCAA tournament 15 consecutive times. Her teams were always prepared to play well late into the season and appeared in nine Sweet 16 games, reached the Final Four three times, and won the NCAA National Championship in 2008.

Her efforts were recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, which named her 2013’s Collegiate Strength Coach of the Year. In 2017, she received the NSCA’s “Impact Award,” given to a coach whose career has greatly contributed to the advancement of the strength and conditioning industry.

Andrea Hudy is in an elite class of coaches.

“Hudy is one of the best strength coaches in the nation, and a leader in the purest form,” says former colleague Jared Ka’aiohelo. “She knows how to delegate within a staff, and motivate people to be their best,” said Ka’aiohelo, who went on to acknowledge that “she is a great friend and mentor to me, I’m honored to have had the chance to work with her.”

When we saw Hudy in action this past December, Ka’aiohelo’s words came to life. She had great command of the weight room. Athletes were motivated, on task, efficient with their time, and challenging themselves with weight.

Athletes and coaches in high skill sports like basketball can be skeptical of strength training, noting fears that additional strength and size will negatively impact their shooting ability. Those fears don’t exist in Hudy’s weight room. And to any lingering skeptics reading this, talk to Michael Jordan, Lebron James, or the Kansas teams that went to 15 consecutive NCAA tournaments.

The Hudy effect is taking hold in Austin. Weeks before, we were honored to be invited to watch an NBA training sessions – the Longhorns are bigger and stronger. Jericho Sims, who leads the Longhorns in blocks (1.2/game) and rebounds (7.8/game as of 1/8/20), stands 6’9” and weighs 240 lbs. He’s muscled-up and moving weights that would be impressive in any gym.

Still, one would have to look for Sims to find him, as those around him were also enormous and moving impressive weight. Gerald Liddel is still adding bulk to his 6’8” 200lb frame, Royce Hamm Jr. looks ready at 6’8” 240, as did Kamuka Hepa (6’9” 225) and freshmen Kai Jones (6’11” 212) and Will Baker (6’11” 245). Even the “small” guys on the team, like leading scorer Matt Coleman III (6’2” 185) look strong and impressive.

Even in this forest of superhuman size and strength, Andrea Hudy’s influence stands tall.

When the weights have been put back and the team heads up to practice, Hudy and her staff stay back, aligning weights with incredible attention to detail. Bumper plates are evenly arranged and all tiled subtly in the same direction. There are standards here. Hudy maintains them. They are leading Texas basketball to place it has not been in a while.

“Coach Hudy knows how to get the best out of anyone she comes in contact with,” says colleague Zack Zillner, who feels grateful to work alongside the legendary strength coach.

It is not only her knowledge (pick up a copy of her book, Power Positions for in-depth understanding of S&C), high expectations, and ability to motivate that make her exceptional… it is also her kindness. She has time for people. She cares about those with whom she works.

Hudy can often be seen joking with players, literally patting them on the back, and listening to their life stories. The rapport she builds with her team is the primary reason she can get so much out of them. She cares.

A coach can be both tough and kind, competitive and caring. Hudy balances results and relationships as well as anyone.

For the foreseeable future, strength will not be a weakness for Texas Basketball

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