Why We Run

Posted: October 14, 2016 in Opinion, Sports
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I had someone I respect question our policy of running stairs in our preseason stair_climb_challengeconditioning program the other day. It was an honest question with points along the lines of “It has nothing to do with basketball” or “The kids think you’re punishing them” and other comments similar to those.

I understand people wondering things like this, so in the spirit of openness I thought I’d explain.

First of all, our conditioning is hard. Really hard. Not everyone can get through it, and that’s sort of the point as I’ll soon explain.

It’s pretty simple really, and I’ll break it down into 5-main points. Let us commence:

CONDITIONING

Pretty obvious one here, but yes, in basketball there’s a lot of running. A lot of intense, continuous running. More so than any other sport. Sure, in soccer you run but there’s a lot of jogging involved. Can’t jog in hoops, man. In football you run in short spurts mainly, so it’s totally different. Some of you may have noticed there’s a lot of jumping required in basketball as well, so running stairs helps not only your cardio but strengthens your legs considerably. And it helps not only running up, but also down the stairs.

PUSHING YOUR BOUNDARIES

In our conditioning you are asked to go beyond what you think you may be able to do. There are times you’ll want to quit, but hopefully you’ll keep going. If you go beyond your threshold to a certain point, the next time your threshold will be higher. Running stairs and doing our other conditioning drills helps you to push your limits.

YOU FINDING OUT ABOUT YOURSELF, COACHES FINDING OUT ABOUT YOU

Running stairs and other conditioning drills are not only about getting in shape. They’re about finding out about yourself and what you’re capable of achieving. And guess what? You’re almost always capable of more than you think. There will be times when you’ll be thinking, “I can’t do this. I have to stop”, or “I’m not coming back tomorrow. This is too hard.” However, the players that fight through it and do what they think they could never do have learned something about themselves. And yes, those that go home or don’t come back have learned something as well. And guess what? As coaches, we learn things about you too.

SACRIFICE

The more you have sacrificed for something the more you care about it, correct? Well, that same idea applies to basketball. The player who has worked his tail off, sweated, and yes, even bled during the season will have more invested when he sees that loose ball and goes after it in late February. If one player has sacrificed a lot and another has not, who’s going to want it more and will consequently have a better chance to get what he or she wants? You guessed it. It’s really as simple as that.

GROWING TOGETHER

When players go through tough experiences like conditioning together, they grow closer as a team. They know not everyone could do it. When they walk down the hallway at school, sore from conditioning the night before, they know they’re one of a rare breed. And when they see a teammate walk past, they know they’re looking at a person who has shared with them a common, extremely difficult experience. Going through tough situations together help team camaraderie in that way. And I guarantee you that almost every athlete that has gone through our preseason conditioning program is proud of themselves for doing so.

Because you see, everyone wants to be there on game night with the cheerleaders, the band and the crowds cheering. However, not many want to put in the required work that it takes to not only get there, but to succeed when you arrive.

I might point out that conditioning is not mandatory. Are players strongly urged to attend? Of course they are. In addition, athletes involved in other sports are obviously not required to be there.

Pushing on when life gets tough is a quality that will help you for the rest of your life. Sacrifice, hard work, and never giving up are great qualities to possess, and activities such as a tough conditioning program can help you gain the confidence to acquire all of these skills.

As proof, for years I’ve had former players return to me with a word of thanks for pushing them to do things they never thought they could do. A couple years ago I had a former player named Adam come to me and say this after coming home on leave from the army:

“Coach, thanks for all you put me through. When I was in boot camp, every time I wanted to quit I told myself, ‘Hey, I got through basketball conditioning, I can get through this too.'”

And that should tell you all you need to know.

Note: Listen, I know and respect different coaching philosophies, and I understand that what works for one may not work for another. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. Bottom line, you have to coach in a way that’s comfortable to you. If your kids believe in what you’re doing you’ll be fine.

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