As the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Denver Nuggets, Felipe Eichenberger assists some of the world’s best athletes’ achieve the balance of their physical abilities complementing their talent. At the suggestion of Nuggets Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Claus Souza, I reached out to Felipe while the NBA season was still in progress and made the connection. Enjoy this feature to follow Felipe Eichenberger’s path as he earned his position in the NBA and created bonds with the athletes to realize their potential.
Please note: The interview with Felipe Eichenberger was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
My role as a Strength and Conditioning coach for the team is to make sure that each player is ready to perform at the highest level and that their physical abilities are matched with their talent. I also help our nutritionist with the nutrition part of each player and make sure that they are not only training hard but also taking care of their bodies.
On practice day we arrive about 3 hours before, have a meeting and plan the day for each guy depending on their status. After the meeting, we start training the players individually before or after their individual court time. We train the players until the team gets together about 15 minutes before team practice. We will warm them up and coaches take over from there.
Gameday is a little different. We will have a shoot around in the morning, train the players beforehand and warm up the players. Then we will go back home or to the hotel for a couple of hours and then we will arrive at the arena 3 hours before the game start to prepare players for the games.
My dream growing up was to play in the NBA. Since I could not achieve that goal, I wanted to be around the NBA. I always liked the training aspect in sports, so strength and conditioning was the perfect combination. I realized that I meant to do this career in college where I would go lift every single day and teach my teammates how to lift properly after team activities so we could win more games.
The day that I realized that I achieved my dream was a really cool day. I remember I was in the middle of the court looking at thousands of people in the arena waiting to watch the game. I was watching one of the greatest players ever (Kobe) to warm up. At that moment, it felt like a dream come true!
Not only the performance but to perform and stay healthy after games affect what we do tremendously. When the team performs well, win games, and nobody gets injured, it feels like we are doing our job to the max. At the same time, if we lose and a player gets injured, it feels like we could have done a better job to stop or decreased the possibility of that injury even if it is out of our control.
An example is an ankle sprain where a player jumps up in the air and land on the opponent’s foot. There’s nothing we could have done better to avoid that injury, but we always feel like it is our responsibility to make sure that it does not happen.
I have my degree in Health and Sports Science, my Master’s Degree in Human Movement on top of all the certifications necessary to work in the industry.
Offseason is very interesting because all the players that live in Denver during the season are gone and back to where they are from. So, we will make plans to go visit them and make sure that they are following their routines so they can come back ready to go for training camp and the season. Having guys from all over the world sometimes becomes a challenge for us to keep up with all of them but we will do our best.
We train the players daily during the season. We try to keep their schedule the same so they can come in and just give us the effort and work hard!
Try to study and understand mental health as much as you know training. If you don’t have good buy-in from your athletes, you will not be able to train them as much as you would like. So, understanding what state of mind the player is in is a big part of the job!
Felipe Eichenberger achieved his goal of making the NBA; however, it was not in the way imagined. Although his dream was to play, his journey to the NBA took a different path. Felipe ended up courtside in a dream come true watching Kobe Bryant warm-up for the game. Felipe is an instrumental part of the Denver Nuggets success keeping their talent healthy and operating at peak performance. It was pleasure compiling this feature of such a down to earth guy! Best of luck to Felipe and the Denver Nuggets once NBA basketball resumes. Take advantage of this time at home during this global pandemic by following Felipe on Instagram with his fitness tips posts.