I recently did an informal experiment with my athletes. I had them wear a Nike+ Sportswatch GPS during games to see how far they were running. What I found was that they were running upwards of six miles per game. If you consider we play 2-3 games per week from December to late March, our athletes are racking up marathon-type weekly distance. This doesn’t include practice and off-season workouts.
Excessive volume during the season will begin to cause issues if proper steps aren’t taken. Here are some ways to avoid burnout and injury:
Shorten practice time as the season progresses.
Keep practices sharp and focused – but brief and with minimal extra running. You want your team to peak during playoff time, not be exhausted.
Give players a day off whenever possible.
Keep in mind that a physical day off doesn’t have to be a mental day off. You can watch film and shoot 100 free throws instead of a normal practice and still benefit.
Encourage players to use proven rest & recovery techniques.
Foam rollers and ice baths continue to be used for a reason, utilize these resources on off days. In addition, eating well, sleeping well, and staying hydrated are key to recovery. Rest & recovery is arguably the most important factor in sustaining a high level of performance throughout the season.
Communicate with players about injuries.
Communicate with players about nagging injuries and make sure they seek proper treatment. Being sore is normal and is part of being a player. Being hurt isn’t and needs to be properly treated. Make sure they understand the difference.
Continue to strength train during the season.
Purposeful strength training helps ward off the cumulative trauma to your body that can be caused by excessive running. Proper strength training will keep the ankles, knees, hips, and core strong and durable.
Alan Stein is the owner of Stronger Team, the head Strength & Conditioning Coach for Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School basketball program. He is a performance consultant for Nike Basketball, the head conditioning coach for the annual Jordan Brand All American Classic and the Nike Summer Skills Academies. He is a Camp Coach at the prestigious NBA Players Association’s Top 100 Camp as well as the Chris Paul CP3 Elite Backcourt Camp. He is the former strength & conditioning coach for the McDonald’s All American game. His passion, enthusiasm, and innovative training techniques make him a world renowned expert on productive training for basketball players.