The best players in the NBA didn’t make it to the top of their sport based on their court skills alone. They learned early in their basketball career to take care of their health and their body’s so that they could play the game at the highest level for as long as possible. If you want to be the next star in the NBA, here are 5 steps you should take to help your body get you there.
1. Get Assessed
Basketball is your craft, and you shouldn’t be expected to assess yourself. Just like your coach selected you for their team, you should build yourself a team of professionals that know how to properly assess you for physical problems before they arise. This team should include a Strength and Conditioning Coach and a physical therapy provider like a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist. Look for people who understand the physical demands of your sport and have experience assessing basketball players. An assessment to determine your body’s strengths, weaknesses, and asymmetries will empower you to take the next step.
2. Get Treated
Pain due to injury is not the only reason you should seek out physical therapy. Treatment while you are pain free will not only prevent you from getting injured, but will help improve your performance on the court. This may include manual soft tissue therapy, dry needling (acupuncture), or corrective exercise from a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, or Massage Therapist.
3. Get Strong
All professional players include strength training in their program. In order to increase physical performance on the court, you should also spend time in the weight room. Strength training will help you move faster, jump higher, and be more competitive around the basket. One of the best places to start is to learn how to do full body or “compound exercises”. These exercises target your core, lower body and upper body muscles all at once. Examples of compound exercises include squats, core planks, rows, and bench press. They are well balanced, help you build muscle mass, and do not take a lot of time. You should start with a Strength and Conditioning Coach to learn proper technique when performing compound movements.
4. Get Adequate Rest
The best athletes in the world know that their rest time is just as important as their training. Your body needs time to rebuild and repair after you put in work. In fact, your body does this repairing most efficiently when you are sleeping. Get to bed early enough to allow yourself at least 8 hours of sleep. While you’re at it, put your phone and computer away 30 minutes before your head hits the pillow. The light from these screens can seriously reduce the amount of sleep hormone you make, making your repair time less than adequate. Sleep experts say you should get to bed at the same time every night and that every hour of sleep before midnight counts as two hours of sleep.
5. Eat Well and Eat Often
Most NBA teams have Dieticians or Nutritionists on their staff to guide what their players eat for each snack and meal. You might not have a professional planning all of your food decisions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start to make healthy choices for yourself. Include lots of vegetables in your diet, some good sources of protein like meat, eggs and beans, and take it easy on the sugar (that means no juice, soda, candy, or desert). You might want to talk with your Medical or Naturopathic Doctor about taking supplements like fish oil and turmeric to help your body recover after activity.
NCAA and NBA coaches are seeking players that are highly skilled, have great work ethic, are emotionally resilient, have a high basketball IQ, and are great teammates. If you’re serious about taking yourself and your game to the next level, then the steps above will set you apart from your competition. The best prospects and inevitable NBA draft picks embrace the process of taking care of their health as part of what it takes to excel in this sport. Take the first step today!