Written on July 20, 2015


An excerpt from RELENTLESS: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, by Tim S. Grover

      Quiet, dark, alone. Always alone, even in a crowd, even when you’re surrounded by an entire arena of fans screaming your name. Alone in your head, alone with that buzz no one but you can feel . . . no outside static. No distraction. Right now, all about you. That dark side pushing you, burning in you, driving you . . . do it. Do it. You can hear your heart, you control every beat. You control everything. Somebody is talking at you . . . but you don’t hear and don’t want to. Later tonight someone—media, colleague, family—will say you’re a jerk, rude and uncommunicative. They don’t get it and you don’t care. “In your own little world,” they say. Yes. Exactly. Get out. Leave me alone. Leave me alone.

You’re in the Zone.

You know others around you are emotional. They feel scared or jealous or excited or they’re too clueless to understand what’s happening, but you feel only readiness. No emotion, because in the Zone the only sensation is anger, a quiet, icy anger simmering under your skin . . . never rage, never out of control. Silent, like a storm that moves in slow and dark, its violence unseen until it hits, and can’t be measured until it moves on.

That’s the impact of a Cleaner in the Zone.

Everything you feel, all your energy, it’s right under the surface. No ripples, no waves . . . no one can see what’s coming. Leave the drama and chaos to others, that’s not you. You’re saving it all for what’s ahead.

Because once you step into the Zone, that’s it. You own time.


Anyone who has experienced the awesome power of the Zone will tell you it’s deeply calm. It’s not relaxing or peaceful—this isn’t yoga—but intensely focused. And once you’re there, you have no fear, no worry, no emotion. You do what you came to do, and nothing can touch you. But what takes you to that elusive space where you’re fearless and powerful, where you can completely trust yourself to just let go? How do you find that perfect internal silence that people talk about but can’t ever really describe?

One thing I know for sure is that we all have a trigger that puts us in the Zone, something that ignites our competitive intensity, laser focus, and a relentless craving to attack and conquer. It’s different in every individual, and no one can tell you how to get there. But I can tell you this much: it comes straight from the part of you I call your dark side, which we’re going to discuss in the pages ahead. Truth: when you’re finally able to let go and be who you really are, that’s what puts you in the Zone, and only then can you control your fear and inhibition. Without that deep instinctive component, it’s like trying to light a lighter that has no fuel inside. You get a lot of sputtering little sparks but no fire.

Read more from RELENTLESS: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, by Tim S. Grover. All rights reserved. 


Is LeBron a Cleaner?

Written on July 2, 2015

If you’ve read RELENTLESS, and you’re familiar with the characteristics for Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners, you won’t be surprised that I’m constantly asked which players fit which category.  Among NBA players, I get more questions about LeBron  James than about any other player, probably since I wrote in the original hardcover book (in 2013) that I did not yet consider him a Cleaner.

When the paperback was published in 2014, I added a new introduction, and addressed this topic again. Below is the excerpt about LeBron, which I wrote after the 2012-13 NBA season.  Just keep in mind:  A true Cleaner gets the end result over and over, not just once or even twice.  Staying at the top is harder than climbing there.


On the question of who’s a Cleaner and who’s not: As you will see, I say repeatedly in the book that prior to the 2013 NBA season, LeBron still had something to prove before he could be considered one of the “best ever,” which is what others were beginning to call him. To me, he was still not a Cleaner. He had won a single championship, and I wanted to see him do it again. He didn’t have to take full responsibility for the entire team as a Cleaner does. He was playing  alongside Dwyane, one of the greatest players in the game. Everything had been handed to him since he was a kid in high school; I wanted him to show he had earned it. Everyone was comparing him to the greatest legends of the game–show us you deserve the comparison.

He did.

His physical gifts and superlative talent had very little to do with ultimately making him a Cleaner, because it’s not about skill or talent. It was the fact that he took the pressure from winning the first ring in 2012, used it to drive himself harder for the second ring in 2013, and he carried his team on his back to get it. Complete focus, in the Zone, never letting up until he got the end result.  And as soon as that second championship was his, he immediately said: I’m going to come back a better player. Still not satisfied. That is a Cleaner.

Excerpted from RELENTLESS: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, by Tim S. Grover. All rights reserved. 


BLOG: Drinking is easy. Winning is not.

Written on June 9, 2015

I’m often asked if I “allow” my players to drink alcohol. I’ll be honest: They don’t need my permission. They’re pro athletes who have to make their own decisions about how to protect their bodies and careers. These are grown adults, and like many adults, they like to relax once in a while; they’re no different from anyone else.  But I draw the line at this: if they’re going to drink, they have to be in control of the alcohol. The alcohol can’t control them.

Do I recommend it? No—the only alcohol I want around athletes is the kind you use on a wound to clean  it. There’s not a single benefit to consuming alcohol, and every reason not to. It has zero nutritional benefits, interferes significantly with the body’s ability to recover, and as I explain in my training book JUMP ATTACK, it’s literally poison. You’ve heard of alcohol poisoning? What does that tell you? In large quantities, it’s a poison. Even in small …..Continue reading BLOG: Drinking is easy. Winning is not.

Why So Many Injuries in the NBA? Be Surprised There Aren’t More

Written on June 6, 2015

By Tm S. Grover

This column appeared first on

Jabari Parker—selected #2 by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2014 NBA draft–made headlines this week for two reasons, neither of them good: 1) He suffered a season-ending knee injury, and 2) he became the seventh of the top eleven draft picks to be seriously injured.

It’s hard to overlook those numbers. Seven of the top eleven already injured? Jabari Parker. Joel Embiid. Aaron Gordon. Marcus Smart. Julius Randle. Noah Vonleh. Doug McDermott. At least four of those probably gone for the rest of the season. Coincidence? Curse? The theories began flying:  The players are more explosive, the game is faster, the competition is greater, too many games, too much travel. And while many asked, Why so many injuries to young superstars?, a better question might be:  Why aren’t there more?

Here’s my theory, and I’m pretty sure I’m correct: These injuries aren’t being caused by the games they’re playing; they’re injured because of the number of practices and games they’ve already played. Hundreds of games, thousands of hours, since they were old enough to pick up a ball.  Peewee. Youth leagues. Summer camps. Travel teams. AAU. High school. College. A relentless schedule of games, practice, travel, and training, sometimes for multiple teams and leagues, with multiple trainers and programs. No time for rest or recovery. No time to play or train for other sports. End result:  The same muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints and are used over and over again, in the same direction, the same angles, the same motions. What piece of machinery doesn’t eventually  give out from repeated use over many years? At some point, the human body just says, “Enough.”

While many parents believe intensified training and competition will accelerate their child’s athletic career, they may actually be shortening it. At the earliest ages, a child’s undeveloped body isn’t prepared for the punishing physical demands of intense athletic activity. Kids are designed to be active, to play, to use their entire bodies…not to work on the same move over and over and over. Yet the competition to be the best—to get above the rim, to throw a complete game, to lift the most weight—has created a generation of young athletes with chronic injuries and pain that they’ll deal with for the rest of their lives.

And while most young athletes finish their careers by the end of high school or maybe college, those elite few who continue into professional sports already have more than a decade of wear and tear on their bodies. So by the time they turn pro, there’s a good chance they’re already dealing with the early stages of injury, some of which will be serious or career-ending. All these rookies with injuries…they’re still kids.

Athletic success for these young pros doesn’t mean training for a good Combine score, it also means developing a healthy, strong, balanced body that can withstand the rigors of sustained elite competition, under the supervision of a professional trainer or coach who understands the different needs and stages of the developing body. Not all kids develop at the same rate; what works for one athlete may not  work for the rest of the team. An ineffective program will give you ineffective results. Everyone is searching for the trendy new workout, but the foundation of an effective training program has always been—and will always be—power and strength.  By the time you’re 16—and usually not before–you have to move the iron. If your program does not address power and strength, through an overload principle, you’re skipping the most fundamental element of training and injury prevention for athletic performance. Yoga and balancing on a ball and laying on a table can only get you so far. Most likely, it can also get you injured if that’s all you’re doing.

Also overlooked: the ability to stop. Everyone wants to go fast and hard, but without the ability to decelerate, what happens? Eventually you crash. Any race car driver can go at top speed, but elite drivers know when to speed up, when to slow down, when to stop. Explosiveness without the ability to decelerate will almost always result in injury. To me, it’s one of the most critical elements of effective training. But how many athletes want to learn to slow down and stop? It’s not sexy. But it’s essential.   If your training program doesn’t teach you to decelerate in a lift or a movement, you’re  only doing half the work.

But the most critical—and overlooked—element of training for longevity is simple: rest and recovery. I’m not talking about laying on the couch playing video games, I’m talking about actively healing your body: stretching, sleeping, foam rolling, compression, ice, nutrition…everything that allows the body to recover and prepare itself for whatever is next. Most coaches don’t work those critical elements into their program because there’s just not enough time. So it’s on you to take responsibility.  It’s not a weakness to take time off for that, it’s a weakness to fear that time off equals failure. You can’t push-push-push without also pulling back. For every action there is a reaction.  Without rest, there can be no recovery. Without recovery, there is zero chance for long-term success.

Parents:  By living your athletic dreams through your kids, you may be damaging theirs. NBA coaches rest their players. Shouldn’t you?  Just as we teach kids to have good study habits, we also have a responsibility to teach them good training habits. Not just working hard, but working smart.  You don’t achieve that by training more and more to beat out the other kids, you achieve it by allowing kids to rest and recover the mind and body, so they can continue to develop and come back stronger and smarter. Instead of pushing them harder, pull them in and let them physically exhale. What happens outside the gym and training facility is as important to long-term success as what happens inside.



Don’t Settle for Legendary

Written on April 17, 2015

Tim Grover Speaking Appearance
Investors Group Financial Services, Toronto
Thanks to CreativeRebellion for production.

The Business of ‘Healthy’ Eating: SI Column

Written on November 25, 2014

I hear this over and over from athletes of all levels, from the pros to the playground:

“I can’t lose weight.”

To which I always want to say: You can’t, or you won’t?

It usually goes like this:

About a month before training camp, a player comes into my office, slumps down into a chair, shakes his head in frustration and says, “I can’t drop this weight.”

No kidding. He’s easily 30 lbs from where he needs to be.

“I don’t get it,” he continues. “I’m working out every day, no drinking, eating healthy…”

Stop. The magic words: Eating healthy.

Tell me what you’re eating.

“Oh, you know, HEALTHY. Start my day with a huge smoothie…”

Here we go. What’s in the smoothie?

“Healthy stuff,” he says proudly. “Orange juice, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, granola, yogurt…very healthy.”

Got it. Good news: If you’re consuming that much sugar every morning, be grateful you’re only 30 pounds overweight. It could be a lot worse, and probably will be, because there are more sugars in that smoothie than the average person should consume in an entire day.

What’s he burning for energy all day? The sugar. What stays on his body, safe and secure? The fat.

That, my friends, is the business—or maybe the b.s.—of “healthy eating.”

We’ve been so conditioned to focus on calories and fat that we overlook the greatest nutritional poison: sugar. And it’s hiding in plain view, in countless foods and beverages that are “good for you.”

Fruit juices. Smoothies. Wraps. Trail mix. Diet sodas. They sound so good. So “healthy.” Until you realize you’re gaining weight and you have no idea why. The ads talk about “healthy alternatives,” but what’s the alternative of healthy? Unhealthy?

Read more at The Business of Healthy Eating


Written on November 14, 2014

Let’s be honest, very few people go into the gym determined to develop really great ankles. Shoulders, back, chest, legs…the glamour muscles get all the work. Ankles are buried in shoes and socks, they don’t show. No one watches the game thinking, “Man, I gotta get some ankles like that.”

When do you notice an ankle?

When it’s injured.

We’ve already noticed a lot of ankles in the NBA recently:

  • Derrick Rose: ankle injury, both ankles.
  • Ricky Rubio: ankle injury.
  • Marcus Smart: ankle injury.
  • Nerlens Noel: ankle injury.
  • Ty Lawson: ankle injury.

And we’re not even ten games into the season.

Ankle injuries are often preventable with the right training, predictable with the wrong training.   I can’t accept an ankle injury being written off as “one of those things.” One of what things? Something caused that injury, and it’s up to each individual athlete to do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

If you’re an athlete in any sport and your program doesn’t include exercises for your ankles, it’s not a complete program. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, how high you jump, how fast you run…if you’re injured, you’re not available to play. And the #1 responsibility of any athlete is to be available to play. There’s no Combine score for ankles, but when they’re injured, you get an automatic 5-10….meaning the number of games a sprain will cost you, if you’re lucky. You could miss more.