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Going the Distance

February 07, 2019 AT 12:00 AM

Longevity in a demanding sport

As Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter push their limits and put their names in the record books in their 21st NBA seasons, many fans and players wonder how they can stay so productive for so many years while other talents have flamed out or retired. Although retirement may be far off in the minds of young hoopers, longevity in basketball has to start at an early age.

Eat right: This is an underrated aspect of a basketball player’s journey. Beyond a balanced diet, competitive athletes likely require healthy, quality proteins and carbohydrates due to the energy they expend. Besides these, you have to stay hydrated constantly throughout the day, particularly when there are games and practices going on.

Train right: Basketball players today have more information than ever before on how to train effectively. Rather than focusing on one area such as leaping ability, you should aim for a well-rounded exercise regime that builds on all aspects of your physical conditioning. Core strength, for instance, improves body control while minimizing the risk of injury. Nowadays, flexibility has also been accepted as a key component of physical training.

Live right: The previous two points can be extended to your entire lifestyle. Without a disciplined lifestyle and the willingness to sacrifice for the game, you are unlikely to persevere in doing the right things. Late nights and bad habits such as partying, drinking or smoking are detrimental to athletic performance, for instance with muscle recovery being inhibited by alcohol consumption. To truly succeed as an athlete, you need to have the determination to resist any temptation or distraction.

Recovery time: Beyond working hard, we have to recognize that our bodies need time to recover as well. With scientific advances, coaches and athletes are beginning to recover the value of building recovery time into training regimes. Basketball is a high-impact sport with injury risks and muscle damage, and although there are a range of recovery techniques available today, there is still no substitute for the element of time.

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