“Exercise is done against one’s wishes and maintained only because the alternative is worse.” – George a. Sheehan
One of my goals over the last year was to get back into Basketball. Motivated and excited, I joined a couple of men’s leagues right here in the city, and after competing for the first time since leaving college basketball I felt the incredible benefits for my mental health. But from a strength coach’s perspective, after coming back, the things I saw and heard from other players drove me crazy;
- “This is how I get my exercise.” or “ This is my source of cardio” or “ I’m doing this to get back into exercising”
- “I hurt my knee doing…..” or “ my back has been giving me problems.”
- Perhaps the most common statement is; “Nathan, enjoy being young, someday you will be old and broken like me” or “ I’m out of shape, getting older sucks.”
- Most player warm-ups consist of a couple static stretches and maybe a few minutes of foam rolling.
There is one thing I believe that every weekend warrior needs to hear – we must physically prepare our bodies in order to earn the right to be a warrior, even if it is just on the weekends.
Sports are More Than Cardio
Athletics are the highest display of physicality, bar none. Athletics provide the rare opportunity to combine multiple dimensions of physical attributes such as; speed, power, strength, agility, flexibility, endurance, and skill. As you stack more and more physical attributes the activity becomes more unpredictable and variable, not to mention you are playing against other dynamic opponents as well. This makes sporting environments even a risk to your health.
If you look at pro sports, the injury rates are very high. These athletes are paid to keep their bodies in pristine condition and yet the variability of their environment in which they play still keeps injury at a high risk. Contrast this to an office worker who sits at a desk for 8 hours a day. Your typical office worker has not tried to jump, run, or cut at maximal velocity against a dynamic opponent in years. At most a standard office worker may have starred in a pick-up game of soccer with a spotty warm up.
Top 5 Recommendations
“I hate every minute of training. But I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Mohammad Ali
Recreational leagues are fantastic, everyone should have an opportunity to compete. However as recreational athletes we need to put the work in to make sure we don’t sacrifice our health by imposing unnecessary risk. Here are my top 5 recommendations to prepare yourself for competition and stay healthy;
- Get Strong: Strength training with a focus on the foundational movement patterns, such as the squat, hinge, pull, push, lunge and carry, properly, will a go a long way in physically preparing you to get back to sport as well just getting more out of life.
- Practicing movements and increasing your movement library: While participating in the unpredictable environment at sport, injuries happen when you are forced to go outside of your movement capabilities. By improving on these capabilities and increasing your library, you will greatly reduce the chance of injury. Practicing flows, crawling, hanging, rolling, balance etc. will all increase your movement library decreasing the likelihood of injury, especially when done so in a controlled environment.
- Practice Sprints, Jumps, and Change of Direction: Once your strength foundation has been laid, start to incorporate change of direction drill, sprints, and jumps individually at the start of your training sessions. If you Improve on these physical attributes in a controlled isolated environment, it won’t be such a shock to the body when you have to perform these attributes in a game where they are stacked in an uncontrolled environment.
- Get Your Work Capacity Up: It’s not fun sucking air 2 minutes into a sporting event. Put the work in and get better at long endurance cardio, interval training, and circuits. It will be a huge benefit to performing and keeping you and others safe in a game.
- Properly Warm Up: Your body can’t go from 0 to 100 in a span of a 5 seconds. Following a good dynamic warm up sequence will not only decrease your chance of injury but it will also help you perform at your best!
Start small, and work your way back to your sport. I know this sounds like a lot, but trust me its worth it. The extra work will not only help keep you safe, perform better, have more fun, but it will also allow you to continue to play deeper into your life!
If you need help, just ask! We would love to be a part of your journey.