Last Wednesday 76ers Head Coach of the Brett Brown met with the local media and discussed a number of items including Nerlens Noel’s health, what he sees in rookie Khalif Wyatt and applying what he learned at his previous coaching gig to Philadunkia’s home team.

However, of all the topics Brown talked about last Wednesday, his words on the importance of fitness and the work done at The Australian Institute of Sport really caught my interest.

Brown mentioned that his stress on high levels of fitness was a by product of his time spent with San Antonio coach Greg Popovich as well as his years working “Down Under” with the Australian Institute of Sport.  We all know what a great franchise Popovich has helped establish in San Antonio, so anything we can borrow from the Spurs will only help the 7-6.  But what exactly is the Australian Institute of Sport and exactly what goes on there that can help the 76ers?

If you do a few minutes of basic online research, you will learn that the Australian Institute of Sport of is a nationally run system of premiere sports training centers that develop elite Australian athletes.  Outstanding Australian athletes who show significant promise in their chosen sport are hand picked and sent to one of the AIS centers to train and develop under the watchful eye of AIS coaches, sports medicine experts and trainers.  Ask any pro trainer or team doctor and they will tell you the Australian Institute of Sport has a reputation as one of the best run athlete development practices in the world.

“You look at cutting-edge technology out of sports science, and the Institute of Sport is among the leaders in the world, very globally recognized as cutting-edge,” Brown said last week.

“I don’t know if anyone saw Australian-rules football. To me they’re the fittest athletes in the world. It’s a hybrid of football and soccer and it just goes.  Back in the late ’90s, those coaches influenced a lot of basketball coaches with the use of heart-rate monitors and eat for recovery and ice baths and nutrition and health massages and keep on going.  You start realizing that could perhaps provide you with an edge you need.  Those experiences were my influence from that side of my coaching.”

I spoke with NBA player Patty Mills who in addition to being coached by Brett Brown on the Australian National Team, started training in the AIS system at the age of 16.  Mills explained to me that AIS was the key to launching his basketball career.

“When I was 16 I earned a full scholarship to go there.  In junior basketball, growing up that is the one place you wanted to make it to.  You know once you make it there that you are definitely on the right track.  I spent three years there.  AIS disciplined me into doing all the little things on the court and especially off the court,” Mills said.

In addition to Mills, the AIS has worked with hundreds of world-class athletes, including names you might recognize like Olympic swimming champions Alicia Coutts, Angie Bainbridge, Jodie Henry and Alice Mills; WNBA star Lauren Jackson; as well as Andrew Bogut of the Warriors and the Australian Rugby 7’s national team.

Looking specifically at the Institute’s program for men’s basketball, the AIS has established a method where it typically gathers 12-15 of the best youth players (High school kids by age.) from around the country and places them in one location so they can practice and train together.  As they come up and develop together, this group of players becomes the foundation for Australia’s junior national squads (U19; U21) and eventually its national teams.  Still, according to Mills, the AIS is about more then just gathering the top hoops talent in Australia under one roof and rolling the ball out.

“You are put into an environment where basketball is in your backyard but you also have to manage your time with school, personal fitness and also sports medicine,” Mills said.

“You manage so many things at such a young age that it prepares you for the real world and when you come out of it you are a little ahead of the game.  It really prepared me for life outside of the AIS, coming to the states, staying fit on my own and playing professionally.”

Clearly Brown and Mills are big believers in the system the Australian Institute of Sports has mapped out for training athletes.  It will be very interesting to see how their highly respected methods help the 76ers this season and going forward — I’m looking at you Lavoy Allen.

The 76ers winning more than 20 games this season may not be a good bet on sites like, but you can bet that thanks to Brett Brown and his belief in the methods practiced at the Australian Institute of Sport, that no team in the League will be in better conditioned then the Sixers.


You can follow Patty Mills on Twitter @Patty_Mills.

You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.

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