The Hoops Whisperer on Aging, Focus
Send Idan your questions!
He’s back. After a successful string of columns, we took a couple more of your questions and posed them to Idan Ravin, a.k.a. The Hoops Whisperer, for his column in SLAM 159. Below are the answers from the man who’s trained LeBron, Carmelo, CP3, KD and many more elite NBA players. Enjoy!
Q: You always seem to have good advice for young hoopers, but what about us old guys who are trying to extend our careers? What can I do as a 32-year-old to prolong my love affair with basketball? I try to stretch and warm up before I play, but I’m wondering if you have any words of wisdom.
A: I imagine you are a big fan of the game, so I hope you have a chance to watch Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd more often after you read this column. While they’re in their late 30s, they continue to play at a high level because of their incredible commitment on and off the court. They are meticulous with their diet, rest, conditioning and skill development. More importantly, they are sensitive to their bodies and how they respond to different stimuli. I encourage you to continue to do what you are doing, but to add a few more dimensions to your training protocol. On days you play, I certainly suggest you warm up prior to the game and stretch immediately afterward. On days you don’t play, I encourage you to maintain a proper and balanced diet, as well as incorporate resistance, conditioning and flexibility training into your regiment. You may not see a difference immediately but it will soon begin to show both on the court and in how you feel off the court.
Q: About six months ago, I fell in love with basketball. I’ve never played on an organized basketball team, but now I want to. But the thing about me is, I always focus on one sport. It used to be soccer, but basketball is more fun to me now. I don’t know what sport I should devote my life to or which will take me further. I want to play the sport that I’m better at. What should I do?
A: My intuition tells me you really don’t love the game like you say. When you love something, you don’t ask yourself in just a few months where it will take you and whether you want to devote your life to it. To love something means you are so absolutely consumed by it that nothing else seems to matter. Assuming you want to continue with basketball, your soccer experience will be helpful. I imagine you have developed “good feet” and speed, are conditioned and comfortable playing with a high work rate. These skills will translate well onto the basketball court. In the meantime, I hope you continue to play and practice and your interest in basketball over time becomes more than just an infatuation, but a love affair with the game that all the great players in the world seem to have.
Q: Aloha, I’m a 13-year-old point guard in Hawaii. I play on my school’s basketball team, but my coach tells me to do the exact opposite of what I’ve been taught my whole life from my dad, who knows more about basketball than anyone I’ve ever met. If I follow my instinct, my coach yells at me for not doing what he told me to do and hardly plays me because of it.
A: One of the hardest things players must confront when playing team sports is the premise that the person coaching their team actually knows the game, can coach the game and understands what is best for his team and each player. Quite possibly, your coach doesn’t know any of the above, and your dad knows much more than him. Your dilemma is your dad doesn’t coach your team, the other guy does. Hence, I suggest you make time to speak with your coach regularly so you can better understand what he wants exactly and why he wants it. I consider yelling a bunch of rules and restrictions at players without any explanation and rationale a real waste of time and a disservice to all the players on a team. If your coach is not willing to explain his principles and have open dialogue about strategy and coaching philosophy with you, I suggest finding another team to play for that better fits your style, and, in the meantime, continue to spend more time with your dad.