When are we actually getting better? Most players will say when we train, but surprisingly, it's not the truth.
The recovery process is the part where you’re getting better if you’ve done the essential work before. Your muscles regenerate and become stronger. Your skills also become sharper because your brain transfers the knowledge about them from short-term to long-term memory (during sleep).
It’s when you can step back, refocus and then come back with the ability to perform better than you did before.
It’s not a weakness to recognize your body’s need to recover, it’s a weakness to be so addicted to training and so scared to miss a day that your body can’t keep up with your obsession.
For us, basketball players, our body is our business. It is how we make (or are going to make) money. If your body is not in top condition; if you can’t perform your best because you're under-recovered, the business will go away.
Many things can help you recover and many of them (depending on the individual) might work and might not.
Non-personal Recovery Methods
Now, some “true” methods work for everybody. They are essential for us as humans.
Most of them are obvious but many underestimate them because they are so obvious. People are searching for some crazy secrets, while the things that work the best are in front of them. They are natural and work the best because they are natural.
Such recovery tools are:
- High-quality sleep
- High-quality nutrition
- Low-stress levels
Now, this is the best recovery tool you can get, even though most people don’t view it as such. It is even more essential for athletes than it is for the average person, simply because we put so much stress on our bodies every day.
Many people neglect it because they feel like they are too “busy” to get 8 hours of sleep. Trust me, if you don’t get enough sleep, your work isn’t near as efficient as it could be. If you don’t believe me, you can try it out. Get 8+ hours of high-quality sleep every night for two weeks, and you’ll see a HUGE difference.
There are tons of articles and videos you can find on the internet about high-quality sleep. The information is in front of us, we just have to use it.
Sleep is the best recovery tool you can get.
There are some times when you have to sacrifice some sleep to get closer to your goals, but it definitely shouldn’t become a habit.
Nutrition is another essential aspect when it comes to recovery. Your body is like a factory, to produce new things (like stronger and bigger "muscles"), it needs material for production.
Balanced nutrition doesn’t just help you recover, it also provides fuel for your workouts. Getting enough macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs), vitamins, and minerals as well as staying hydrated will set you up for long-term success in basketball.
Here's a simple rule about nutrition — what you give your body is what you’ll get in return. If you give it garbage food, you’ll get garbage results and the other way around.
This one is simple. You will recover much better when you’re happy (or just simply in a good mood) rather than when stressed out. Low-stress levels allow your body to switch from the fight-or-flight state into the parasympathetic, where your stress hormones drop, and you’re able to relax.
Your stress levels are also directly correlated to whether you get enough good sleep and nutrition or not.
Personal Recovery Methods
What I call personal recovery methods, are methods that might or might not work for you. Their effectiveness depends on you as an individual. Such tools are:
- Ice (icing after workouts, ice baths, cryotherapy, etc.),
- Heat (sauna, hot shower/bath),
- Passive/static stretching or mobility,
- Foam rolling/massage/vibration tools (like Hyperice vibrating roller, Hypervolt, or theragun), and
- Contrast showers/baths.
Here, you need to try things out and figure out what works for you. Many people would say that a lot of this doesn’t work at all, but if you see that it works for you, add it to your toolbox.
Each one of us is different and a lot of this is also a mental thing, so don’t give up something that works for you just because some IG trainer said it doesn’t.
When it comes to ice or heat or contrast showers, I still wouldn’t recommend using it too often because then after some time you probably won’t feel any effect at all. Just keep in mind that when you’re sore and have a big game the next day, you can use your tool to get that recovery boost.
If you’re not sure how to use any of these, you can easily find information on the internet.
- It’s not a weakness to recognize your body’s need to recover, it’s a weakness to be so addicted to training and so scared to miss a day that your body can’t keep up with your obsession.
- To make the most out of your recovery process, you have to master the “true” recovery tools first and make them non-negotiable.
- Find a recovery tool that works for you and stick to it.
If you have any questions, are looking to give us advice, or just want to talk hoops, don't hesitate to reach out!
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Until next time!