Most youth and high school basketball players no longer have a true off-season. Once the regular season is done, athletes immediately jump into AAU and then the summer camp circuit. In spite of this, it's critical for every athlete to take the time to rest, recover and reflect—to recuperate from a grueling season.
Players need to take one to two full weeks off after their last game. This is non-negotiable. You need to rest your mind and body; spend quality time with family and friends; and make sure academics are on point. You need to get extra sleep, eat well, kick back and enjoy being young! High school and college will be over in the blink of an eye; athletes shouldn't take this time for granted. Enjoy the journey.
Players should address the nagging injuries they endured during the season. Don't ignore sore ankles, knees and backs. If appropriate doses of Advil and ice aren't doing the trick, see a medical professional [an athletic trainer or physical therapist].
The only physical activity I would recommend during the recovery phase would be a daily full-body foam roll routine [self-massage] and/or active stretching and mobility-type movements like these:
Players need to take 10 minutes every day during this two-week period and sit comfortably in total silence—no phones, no computers, no music, no TV and no barking dogs. Close your eyes and reminisce on the past season. If it was a success, take time to feel good about what you accomplished and pinpoint what made it such an impressive year.
If it was a rough season, use it as a learning experience to get better. Reflect on the challenges you faced and brainstorm ways to handle them in the future. Remember, from adversity comes opportunity.
Photo: Ted Szukalski/digital-photo.com.au
Alan Stein is the owner of Stronger Team and the head strength and conditioning coach for the nationally-renowned Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boy's basketball program. A performance consultant for Nike Basketball as well as the head conditioning coach for the annual McDonald's All-American game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Summer Skills Academies, Stein is also a camp coach at the prestigious NBA Players Association's Top 100 Camp and the Chris Paul CP3 Elite Backcourt Camp. You can follow Stein at twitter.com/AlanStein, strongerteam.com and Facebook.com/StrongerTeam.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock