Preparation is the basis for success in any field of endeavour, not just basketball. But like a coach is expected to prepare his team by practicing skills and rehearsing team methods, the players must also be prerpared physically to take advantage of the thing learned in training. They must be fit and fuelled and be well aware of how to do both to maximize their performance.
In a well designed basketball program training for basketball it should not be necessary to improve player’s fitness and condition. The drills scrimmages and matches should normally be enough to maintain peak fitness unless the program is interrupted by injury or sickness. But because many clubs lack facilities and the opportunities for full scale practices are limited, players may need to work on their fitness and conditioning on an individual basis.
Teams playing at the highest level will usually have the services of highly skilled and qualified fitness advisors, medical practitioners, sport’s scientists and other professionals, but the vast majority of players do not have access to these services. Nevertheless peak fitness can be achieved and maintained if players follow a regular conditioning program and a balanced diet and lifestyle.
To get the best out of their natural assets, players should respect their bodies. Care should be taken to avoid handicaps that will reduce efficiency. Top performance in basketball is the result of peak fitness development through a planned training routine that includes adequate rest, proper diet, appropriate exercise, medical attention and the absence of excesses. A balanced diet includes a daily intake of enriched or wholegrain bread and cereals, meat, meat substitutes or fish, milk fruit and vegetables.
Players should be primarily concerned with maintaining their normal body weight. Any marked change in normal weight should be considered serious and medical advice sought. The cause of sudden weight loss may be deficient diet which a doctor can remedy, or it could be something more complicated which if treated promptly may enable the player to resume training sooner than otherwise possible.
There is ample evidence that smoking serves no useful purpose. It irritates the delicate membranes that line the lungs and causes coughing. Smoking can aggravate bronchitis, cause lung cancer, narrowing the blood vessels and shorten the breath. Breathing capacity is most important tor athletes. If the utilization of oxygen in the body is hampered, as it is in smokers, the athlete’s stamina and performance must be affected.
Common sense indicates alcohol and basketball do not mix. Drinking alcohol can affect mental and muscular efficiency and regular drinkers often suffer nutritional shortages through neglect of a balanced diet. I have often told the joke about the wife who did not know that her husband drank until he came home sober one night. This analogy also applies to the athlete who does not know how fit he can be until he no longer drinks or smokes.
The pre-game meal is a contentious subject. There is overwhelming evidence that players should avoid eating for three or four hours before a game or training if they wish to achieve maximum performance. Some players say they dislike playing on an empty stomach and may eat just before a contest. I am amazed how some of these players get through the game and, of course some do suffer with stomach cramps or discomfort.
The desire for food is usually a nervous reaction. This is precisely why players should avoid eating immediately before a contest. It can take four to six hours for a meal to digest and even longer of the player is unusually tense or nervous before a major event. Any digestive problems can be magnified during the physical demands of a basketball game. It is much better to go into the game under- fed than over- fed. I usually suggest players eat the type of meal they prefer at least three hours before a contest.
When it comes to the pre-game meal it is recommended by sports scientists and nutritionists to eat foods that are high in carbohydrate,. Spaghetti, pancakes, toast and honey are just three simple examples. These foods are easily digestible and provide the body with a ready supply of energy for the activity to come.