Just about every year in the NBA, a video goes viral of a player suffering a gruesome injury, getting stretchered off or tearing an ACL. Nerlens Noel, Jusuf Nurkic, the list sadly goes on. And, this phenomenon of high level hoopers damaging their bodies permanently has become such a phenomenon that fans become accustomed to checking the injured list for their favorite stars. Why is this the case? Should athletes really have to weather this kind of storm?
ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes recently wrote a piece about the wear-and-tear intense youth basketball can have on bodies by the time players reach college. Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, a researcher on sports medicine at Emory University, had the most telling quote from the article; “Kids are broken by the time they get to college."
At UPB, there’s an intention behind every step taken with an athlete, regardless of age or level. Whether rolling with a tennis ball, using a resistance band while shooting jumpers, or even practicing on the Vertimax, various basketball as well as physical and mental health professionals weigh in on every decision made. Every athlete we have will be pushed, but a distinction is made between being challenged and overworked.
For example, even our finest pro players, from Chasson Randle to P.J. Tucker, do not overexert themselves on the daily. They take trips in the offseason, prioritize family, and take well-deserved time off from basketball so they will return even stronger. Same goes for high school players and so on because rest and recovery are essential pieces of the learning experience. We focus on skills and growth rather than overexertion.
This steps into the mental game. Every youth clinic finishes with an exercise called “MVP” which stands for meditation, visualization and positive self-talk. Players are taught to visualize their own success and step by step, the goal is to make that become reality. Basketball is a highly mental game and without proper attention to detail, a promising future can be compromised. We want each of our players to be the best they can be and are highly committed to making that happen.
There’s one particular exercise Clair Steele will never forget from UPB. And that’s Packie’s famous five-minute plank that would be thrown in at the end of workouts. Clair Steele used to dread those planks.