Welcome back, I’ve got to say it’s been too long.
I’m working on making this more frequent, but sometimes it takes some time till something worth writing about happens. And boy did something happen… Let me save that for the end though. The good thing is I’ve got stories to tell, and not just here. I’ve got a couple more posts coming up, so check in every weekend. A lot of good things are waiting for you.
But hey, enough stalling, we got some ways to go. So let’s get it.
Last time I needed some inspiration to write, life hit me with the fact that despite all my big dreams about basketball, I really had no idea what I was doing. Or any idea of what it was I needed to be doing. So I did the only thing I could – put my ass on the bench until I figured it out.
There’s really no point stepping on the court if you don’t know what you’re doing. Basketball is ruthless. Physically. Emotionally. Learn the game, earn the win. Otherwise you’re just like everybody else. Uninspired, uninspiring and VERY likely to get your ass KICKED.
And I’ve been getting my ass handed to me just about enough. Something I should have mentioned before is what my goal is for the Comeback Season. What the whole point of it is.
If Basketball really is a part of my life, I need to step up. Take it as far as I can go without looking back. But a life goal isn’t something achieved in a day, a month, or even a year. If it’s going to run over a lifetime, it has to progress in stages – like primary school, high school and college. I’m in college right now, it only makes sense to make the Comeback Season about DOMINATING college basketball my current goal. Which will probably take A WHILE. Then maybe the National Team, and who knows… #NBADreams.
But back to the ass-kicking.
I can’t even begin to think about the NBA or the National team from where I am now. Something needs to change. Or more than that. Maybe EVERYTHING needs to change.
I didn’t put myself on the bench because I was fed up. I seriously needed the time off the court to make a plan. I’ve been learning the hard way that when you really get into a sport, running around in circles hoping you’ll get better isn’t going to cut it. You need something more. Something you can get concrete results from. Like moving free-throws from 50% to 70% out of 20 shots. It doesn’t look like much on paper, but when you want it bad enough, ALL progress is good.
As my starting point, what I’m really looking to do is get in shape. Like REAL shape, not just wheezing through the Sunday evening pick-up game. That was really the point of having a GAME PLAN.
(*check out The Comeback Season #2)
A little after I started, I realized my game plan had to evolve a little. A friend of mine recently gave me a tip on Periodization, which (if you check out the link) is basically breaking up all the strength, power, speed and endurance training you need for the game through out the year – off season, pre-season, in season. The split up helps add each component to your training program strategically to put you at your peak during the in season.
Like any other type of planning, putting it all together is always the hardest part. The periodization simplifies not trying to do everything at once – which isn’t as effective – but I personally found it hard to coordinate all the timing into a schedule. The fact that I’ve got classes in college 8-5 almost every day doesn’t make things easier. In the end though, once you’ve got it all down, the easy part is just getting it done.
Okay maybe I’m being a little cocky. It’s never that easy. Every morning was a drag, and every afternoon was even worse. One of the major things I was working on was endurance. Basketball has you running non-stop, so the best way to prepare for that is by doing just that. Running. Non-stop.
The endurance part of my game plan involved running for 40 minutes straight twice a week. When I hit the pre-season I’ll slowly try working it up towards 45-50 minutes. This part of training is less about speed, and more about being able to keep moving way past the 35 minute mark. It’s grueling, but the last 5 minutes in any game is crucial. Either you’ve got to hold on to a lead, or you’ve got a point deficit to close. And that’s exactly when you need your feet to keep moving.
Even though speed isn’t the main thing here, it’s also not about taking a walk for 40 minutes. Any run, for any sport (except maybe speed-walking) should be at about 1km every 5 minutes. I’m working with a 400m track, so I try to keep it under 2 minutes a lap. Which seems all right, until you do the maths.
1km every 5 minutes for 40 minutes = 8km
8km on a 400m track = 20 laps
20. Piece of cake.
Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”
– Muhammad Ali.
This should be the part where I tell you how far that quote took me. But I won’t, for one simple reason. When you’re 15 laps in:
Quotes don’t mean jack.
I starting to think quotes are only inspiring when your eyes are glossed over a screen and your butt is firmly planted in a chair. Ironically that’s also a pretty good position for daydreaming about hitting the game winning shot.
The more I push myself, I realize that only one thing can get me through every session.
DEDICATION. It has to be more than a word or a feeling. It needs to be a habit. Something your body does everyday at 6am before your mind can sneak up on you and convince you to go back sleep.
At this point strength and speed training weren’t really a priority, which is probably okay since it’s the off season. When it comes to strength, I’m only going into the gym once or twice a week to build some basic strength. I’m not concerned about getting any bigger at the moment. On the other hand, speed is only useful once you’ve got the aerobic base to support it – i.e. the ability to run, and run, and run kind of like what I’m already doing.
The other major part of my training for now is just working on basic skills. Working on my handles, putting shots up, exploding into the lane and finishing at the rim. This is probably the only part of training I really enjoy.
Working on skills is fun because I get the immediate satisfaction of draining a shot, or making a quicker drive towards the rim. Everything else I do just feels draining. But the other fun part about skills training is that I get to see everything else come together. Each week I’m less tired going through drills, and each movement is smoother thanks to the stability I get from the gym.
It’s the big picture of my game that keeps me going in the other sessions. No quote can drive you better than a quick, clean crossover past your opponent.
Everything was going great. My probably overdone training schedule started to pay off. The hardest part of all the planning was squeezing my training into the small gaps leftover from the part of my day college took up. But thanks to my O.C.D schedule, I always knew where to be at each moment with just enough time to move from bed, to class, to the court, to cover my assignments, and back to bed again. By the time the pre-season was about to kick off I was sure I’d be ready to take the team.
And then it happened.
It’s a small community on the court at my college, so I was bound to get noticed when my small presence interrupted the regular afternoon scrimmages a little too often. But sooner or later the team learnt to both acknowledge and ignore me just enough for me to slide into their early off season training sessions. That was my ‘in’.
Although no one was going all out during the off season, the sessions helped me measure my progress. About a month into my training I could at least keep up with the team from warm up through to their basic drills. My skills were still sloppy in comparison, but I with my new plan I was hoping I’d come closer to their level at least halfway through the pre-season.
But mentally I’m still WAY behind. My solo training doesn’t give me any practice on team specific drills.
A week into the pre-season, I was physically comfortable moving through team training. But, according to periodization, the whole point of pre-season training is that things need to step up after the more relaxed off season break. So the coach started to pick things up in training. He picked them up REAL QUICK.
But as comfortable as I felt, APPARENTLY my body wasn’t ready for the strains I was putting on it. I had to push harder than in any of my solo training sessions just to keep up with the team. My endurance was holding on just enough to get me through the training 3 days every week. But there’s more to keeping up than just catching your breath.
I didn’t know it yet, but my joints weren’t ready for the level of explosiveness the coach was pushing towards on every run and jump. Something was bound to give.
Just like that. My left knee was out.
I didn’t even get a chance to be hard-headed about it and try to push through another training session. Without a doubt, you KNOW you’re out of the game when you can’t even walk to class the next day.