Getting back on court and tipping off in your first game after a year like no other, is what we’ve all dreamt about throughout 2020.
While we’re eager to return to the game, these initial fixtures will go smoothly if players return cautiously to the court with a return to sufficient levels of training.
Due to COVID-19, associations, teams, players, officials, support staff, have all been on extended breaks from their usual routines across the year. While our athletes may feel ready to jump straight into games, it is a coach’s duty to ensure their physical return to basketball is staged effectively.
With lockdowns taking up most of 2020, players have undergone a significant level of “de-training”, resulting in physical impacts including a reduction to fitness, conditioning, muscle tone, elasticity, ligament integrity as well as specific skills, balance, agility and functional movement.
Coaches will need to provide leadership and construct practice sessions to ensure it adheres to a staged return to training strategy.
Basketball Victoria’s High Performance Head Coach – Country Women Zoe Carr, believes it is vital that coaches apply patience and a strategic approach to returning to the on‐court training environment.
“2020 has had an enormous impact on our athletes both physically and, most importantly, mentally,” Carr said. “We need to ensure a safe approach to our return, and as coaches, it starts and stops with us.
“We have all been looking forward to getting back on the floor, however, now is not the time to place an emphasis on winning or make up for lost time.
“A slow and considered return to on court and physical activity is vital to minimise the amount of injury our athletes are in danger of sustaining.
“More importantly, the skill-set of most athletes will have declined.”
To safely return to basketball, Basketball Victoria recommends a minimum four-week transition, with a focus on returning to training as opposed to playing.
Athletes and coaches should not jump the gun, but instead focus on coming back in a slow and steady fashion.
Basketball Victoria has developed a specific ‘Return to Training’ document that outlines the ideal four-week training plan to get athletes ready to hit the court.
Each weekly guide includes the main components of strength, fitness and various skills, forming the basis of a staged return. It also specifies potential issues to keep in mind to ensure athletes feel supported in their return.
According to Carr, it is crucial to check in with your athletes throughout the entire ‘Return to Training’ process.
“Please be careful in Week 3,” Carr said. “This is where most injuries will likely occur.
“Ask your athletes how they are feeling and believe their answers – they want to be back on court just as much as we do.
“Whilst we must always hold our athletes accountable to developing good training habits, we need to be understanding and considerate when errors are made.
“We need to make sure we keep basketball as a love in their life.”
Click here to download the Return to Training document.