Preparing to Fail

It happens each and every season, regardless of the sport or whether or not I have trained thoughtfully in the offseason. The first few practices are always excruciating. This phenomenon is particularly bothersome when I feel I have prepared my body to play well. It really sucks to work out hard all year, and then perform with a thud when it comes time to showcase my skills, especially when that thud happens to occur during a tryout or playing-time-determining practice.

I started to notice this trend during my last two seasons of high school basketball. As an underclassman I didn’t get much playing time. So, I decided to buckle down and commit to improving my skills and basketball-specific conditioning for my final two years. I started this process by purchasing “Complete Conditioning for Basketball,” a book with rave reviews from professional coaches and players, and their trainers. I followed it to a tee, and for a while the results were astonishing. I was performing better than ever in summer league games, and was visibly stronger and faster than many of my opponents. To that same respect, I was able to perform at my best for extended periods of time without fatiguing.

Then soccer season rolled around, and I wasn’t able to consistently fit in my basketball workouts in-between practices and games. Still, many of the movements between soccer and basketball are similar (e.g. a lot of jumping and quick bursts of speed), so I don’t believe my basketball conditioning was being jeopardized significantly. Plus, I had about a month off between soccer and basketball season, during which time I reverted back to my summer training regimen.

Finally, late November approached and basketball tryouts were upon me. The training should have been a piece of cake; it wasn’t nearly as intense as the preparation I had undergone each day during the months preceding. Nonetheless, I found myself gasping for air alongside my out-of-shape teammates in between wind-sprints, and unable to walk due to soreness for several days after. This experience wasn’t specific to basketball either, it happened during soccer tryouts throughout my high school career, and continues to plague me at the beginning of each rugby season here at Colby. Has anyone else experienced this? Are tryouts/first practices always grueling, regardless of how well you prepare and the intensity of the session?



Olympic Gold Medalist Sonya-Richards Ross has undergone numerous in-competition injuries and ailments, despite a world-class training regimen.

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