A healthy team is a team that’s playing at full potential. As a coach, you spend a lot of time observing your team as players in games and in practice. You should also make sure you see them as people though: they need sleep and exercise, they can suffer injuries, and they thrive on a proper diet. These considerations often go beyond the court and your basketball practice plan, and address how players can treat their bodies right. You can help create a healthy, active team by supplying critical advice on nutrition, sleep patterns, warm-up techniques, and workout routines.
At the end of the day, providing this advice and implementing it within your basketball practice plan can make a difference in how your season plays out.
1. Stress Proper Nutrition
Factors that influence player performance but exist away from the coach’s eye are often overlooked. You can’t ensure your athletes have the right food every meal, but you can talk to them about a healthy diet. A basketball player’s diet should be high in carbohydrates to provide lasting energy while they remain active for hours on end, often with only limited respites. The carbs should come from a mix of food groups: fruits, grains, vegetables, and dairy (milk is a fantastic way to build strong bones).
A protein-rich diet is another great nutritional practice, and allows players to increase their metabolism while building muscle, achieving a lean body type that can handle direct physical contact.
When your players learn to cook for themselves and have three full meals each day without skipping breakfast, they can prepare themselves physically before even coming to a practice or game. You can’t ensure they’ll do it, but you can definitely advise it, and talk to players who are struggling with nutrition about resources to approve their nutritional habits.
2. Make Sure Your Players Get Enough Sleep
Balancing school with basketball fills a lot of time; for many students, playing basketball is like having a full-time job on top of getting an education. They’ll also want to socialize with their teammates and classmates as well. Sometimes this schedule just doesn’t leave much room for sleep.
Players are young and full of energy but they’re not invincible, which is why it’s important to stress that your players should be getting enough sleep. Sleep-deprived players will not be as sharp and aware in games and they won’t be at their full potential in practice. They also risk burning out as the pressures of school and increasingly important games mount.
You can appreciate how dedicated your players are to the game and their education while letting them know that they still need to be concerned with their health as well. If players are spending a huge amount of time in the weight room and practicing on their own time at the expense of sleep, they can be overworking themselves. Recognize signs of fatigue in your players and let them know you appreciate their devotion, but they need to take it easier on themselves and rest.
3. Display Proper Warm-Up Techniques
Before players get into the fundamentals of practice, they should prepare themselves for the physical rigor they’re about to undergo. Stretching and loosening up before practice should be standard techniques for you by now, but make sure that in their excitement to get out on the court with the ball, your players don’t rush their warm-ups and put themselves at greater risk of injury.
Stretching, moving in place and around the court, and doing exercises that allow players to move in tandem are all methods that allow players to prepare themselves before practice and prevent soreness and damage to muscles. The more these techniques become an internalized routine, the more prepared your players will be for practice. So in addition to running warm-ups, make sure your players know their importance.
4. Teach Proper Workout Strategies
The weight room offers players an incredible chance to increase strength and endurance in various parts of their bodies. Of course, this resource is only valuable when players know the proper way to work out.
As players become acquainted with their workout routines both with their team and in their own time, let them know how to maximize efficiency. Explain that when they have reached a weight with which they feel comfortable, they should start to move on to the next level. Make sure that when lifting heavy weights, your players have spotters. Injuries in the weight room can be severe and you want to let your players know you care about their safety in addition to their proficiency.
Encourage your players to help each other out, especially when some players are more familiar with equipment and exercises than others. Once your team is practicing safely and efficiently and everyone has each other’s back, your team can achieve maximum health.
For more on proper warm-up, stretching, and performance-based workouts, check out our partners at Pure Sweat Basketball and Alan Stein's expert breakdowns!
Your position deals with basketball performance and gameplay, but it’s important to also factor in consideration for the health of your players. With the proper nutrition, sleep, warm-ups, and workout strategies, you can help your players perform safely and at full capacity.
See how Yale Basketball is using the heart rate tracking data with their Dr. Dish to prepare smarter than ever!