Rodney Wilson is a conditioning coach at Conquer Training (Kingston, ON) and former Head Strength Coach at Queen’s University, with years of experience developing complete athletes. In his free time Rodney trains for ultra marathons and drives his daughters to every activity under the sun.
I’m going to throw this out there for all you “basketball people”. If you’re reading from the world of soccer, rugby, football, hockey, whatever… I DO love you too! If you have worked with me over the years, you know I care about all sports.
But what is it about ‘ballers?
Training young athletes is an absolute joy. Working with eager, energetic, and enthusiastic kids can bring personal satisfaction and inspiration. It gives me hope for my young girls as I see teenagers training with dedication and respectfulness. It makes my day.
Typical workouts under my guidance cover quite a few of the fitness bases. We work through mobility, speed, power, strength, and general “mental fortitude”. I find great value in giving the kids a challenge that at first seems overwhelming, but becomes a bit more reachable within the first few minutes of effort. Relay races, weighted carries, hills, and obstacle courses pop up at the end of most training sessions (although not all in one workout!)
Training young basketball players takes the experience to an entirely different level, and I think I know why.
Basketball is through and through a team sport. In ball, each player knows that he or she has at least one strength and at least one weakness. They also know that those strengths and weaknesses are balanced by one of the other 4 players on the court. A good game (not just a win) will come if all 5 players balance out one another’s strengths and weaknesses.
In basketball, the individual talents of each player are blended in with the talents of their teammates. The sharp shooters are reliant upon the crisp passers who are reliant upon the rebounders and so the story of a successful team goes. I have seen this reflected in training many times.
A good example that comes to mind is the basketball player who knew he could simply pick up the heavy bag for his smaller teammate and carry it up the hill. But instead of belittling the smaller kid, he chose to use his leadership and motivation to clap his teammate up the hill and get them to success.
Training and performing in a small space – like a basketball court – can also have an effect on the mentality of the players. On a basketball court it is easy to feel the performance of the other players. Suicides become head to head contests. Speed drills turn into competition grade contests for greatness. Claps of encouragement echo and sound like thunder, and positive shouts drive the intensity up. It’s a fun place to be.
Granted, on the flip side, an angry, unprofessional coach in that small space can make it feel like a dark cupboard. I’ve seen that happen and it stinks. But with the right people and the right attitude, a basketball court is a pretty inspirational space.
The smaller roster also contributes to the team atmosphere and camaraderie amongst players. 5 on the court. 5 players who can either get the game rolling in the right direction, or who can be benched at a moment’s notice if the wheels are coming off. I’ve written this already but here it comes again: with the right coach, that pressure can be inspiring and it can drive players to help one another succeed.
In training, I find that the ballers are the ones who tend to cheer others on during drills. They push themselves to rise above and they find a way to elevate the intensity of the entire group. My wonderful, inspirational hockey and soccer kids are there and they push their bodies too, but they are more to themselves, more reserved, and less interactive.
But I’m certain that in a quiet little corner of their minds, they acknowledge and perhaps even enjoy the antics of the basketball players.