It was an eventful all-star weekend for P3 athletes, highlighted by Jeremy Evans winning the dunk contest.
We began working with Jeremy almost immediately after he was drafted by the Jazz two years ago. Check out some of the hard work and targeted training behind Jeremy’s dunk contest victory.
Other P3 athletes who participated in all-star weekend included Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Marshon Brooks, who all performed well in the Rising Stars Challenge, Anthony Morrow, who lost in the first round of the 3-point shootout, and Deron Williams who dropped 20 points in the main event Sunday.
As the NBA season resumes, expect injuries to continue to play a prominent role.
During the beginning of the NBA, season players were going down left and right with injuries. This prompted Michael Wilbon, one of the most respected and well known sports writers in America, to predict in his ESPN.com article that, “injuries, not talent, will decide the NBA championship.”
It’s one thing to suspect injuries might have a big impact on the season, which we began to do the moment the labor lockout led to a shortened training camp, a barely existent preseason and a severely compressed regular season. But it’s another to realize it, to see three-quarters of the teams scrambling already to cover for players of consequence missing in action, to see sprains and tears become such a dominant storyline that the team trainer is some nights better equipped than the coach to fill out the starting lineup.
Already, less than a dozen games in for some teams, the NBA could trot out an All-Injury Team of Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose at guard, Carmelo Anthony and Zach Randolph at forward and Brook Lopez at center that could absolutely reach the NBA Finals. There’s even a pretty good All-Injured International Team of Steve Nash and Manu Ginobili, Andrew Bogut, Andrea Bargnani and Luc Mbah a Moute that could finish fairly high up in the standings.
Consider a continued list of impact players/former All-Stars who already have missed multiple games because of some injury or another: Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Al Horford, Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill, Eric Gordon, Jason Richardson and Steph Curry. The 76ers started wonderfully but now have reason to worry about center Spencer Hawes’ Achilles tendon.
People are mistaken when they assume that the modern athlete is in peak physical condition year round. While the off-season is the best time to build the physical systems to excel in basketball, many players to do not take advantage of that time. Every year players report to training camp in poor physical condition, and every year players go down to injury because of their poor condition. Normally, players have access to team staff and facilities in the summer, eight weeks of mandatory practice and conditioning, as well as seven or eight preseason games to gradually get themselves in game shape. This year, players had less than three weeks of practice, and only two pre-season games to get ready. This is a significant decrease in “ramping” time, even for the most well conditioned athletes.
With virtually no time to practice during the season and with each game carrying more weight (66 games instead of 82 games), it’s likely that coaches would have been solely concerned with getting players up to speed from a basketball and metabolic conditioning standpoint, and it’s unlikely that identifying injury risks and having players do injury prevention work would have been a priority during training camp.
In general, there is a lack of effort and science applied to stratifying individual injury risk in professional athletes, and while this is one of the main factors that contributes to injuries, Dr. Elliott still believes the best predictor of injury is “change in environment,” and points to the data collected during his 10-year study of NFL hamstring injuries, which showed that 53.1% of hamstring injuries in the NFL occur during the 7-week pre-season period compared to the 16-week regular season. Of all hamstring injuries occurring during the season, 79.8% occurred during the pre-season. Broken down further, 56.0% of practice related injuries occurred in the first month of pre-season (July), 23.8% occurred in the 2nd month (August).
Dr. Elliott attributes the high-preseason injury rates in the NFL to the relative de-conditioning that takes place during the off-season. During his time with the New England Patriots, Dr. Elliott exposed athletes to progressively intense bouts of sprinting and sport-specific neuromuscular training during the off-season and early in the pre-season. Dr. Elliott believes that their application of progressive increases in volume and intensity along with their ability to accurately assess each individual athlete were the main reasons why the Patriot’s program was so successful in reducing injuries and improving athleticism.
The rate of injuries, especially traumatic injuries, has decreased since Wilbon’s article was published on January 18th. This is not surprising, as players have now had time to adapt to the physical demands of an NBA game.
Expect recovery time or lack thereof be a main contributor moving forward, especially as it pertains to chronic injuries.
Players have a very demanding schedule during a regular 82-game season. On average, teams play two to four games per week. This season is even more demanding as teams have to play an extra two games per month on average and will play at least one set of back-to-back-to-back games, with some teams having to do this as many as three times.
Research looking at European soccer players showed that recovery duration and or game frequency can have major impact on injury rates.
Gregory Dupont from the University of Lille’s Laboratory of Human Movement Studies in France monitored injuries during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 UEFA Champions League seasons. He found the injury rate was six times higher when players played two matches per week versus one match per week. He published the study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2010.
Dr. Elliott believes this soccer research applies to basketball and that coaches and teams will have to be better than ever in how they manage players minutes and emphasize injury prevention work. Teams with deep benches and the luxury of being able to rest key players will certainly have an advantage.
Injuries incurred during the beginning of the year will continue to have an impact as the season progresses. We will see less traumatic injuries than we did at the outset of the season, but should expect chronic injuries to be more of a factor as the wear and tear of playing nearly every night becomes too much for many players to handle.