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By Dylan Hicks | Return on Investment for athletic development for basketballers

Return on investment

Intro by Janx...

I’ve asked local running identity and former State League and South Australian State basketballer, Dylan Hicks, to provide a guest blog this month. I’ve known Dylan for years and he is super motivated about all he commits to in his life.

With a Degree in Physical Education, Masters of Exercise Science, qualifications in strength and conditioning, as well as coaching he as the theoretical knowledge. He is a high level competitor himself in the fields of track and field, and basketball, his skills and qualifications are unique and provides him a very significant breadth of theoretical and practical knowledge. In short when Dylan blogs, coaches MUST read.

This blog is ideal for players and coaches alike both locally and overseas. I know I will think about ROI when structuring my trainings and advice to athletes on their personal development.

I really like the Steph Curry reference he makes and the fact that basketball skills can outweigh athleticism to some extent. I am writing a blog soon on this concept too.

Dylan is organising a fantastic event that will take place on November 20 called the Adelaide Athletic Development Conference. This conference includes a smorgasbord of speakers from elite programs in the AFL, Soccer, Athletics and more. If you are involved athletic development from any sport or a coach who wants to be able to understand contemporary issues in the field this event is a great opportunity to augment your professional development and learning. Key issues for basketball covered off include plyometrics, speed development, tactical periodisation and much more. As programs look for an edge in the field of science these kinds of expertise are coming in more and more demand. A flyer graphic is a at the end of this blog below. If this event is of value to you then book here

Over to Dylan...

In a financial sense, a Return on Investment (ROI) deals who how much money you invest in a company, stock or property; compared to the net return you receive upon selling or the company or property’s net value increasing. It is the extent to which the benefits (or outputs) exceed the costs (inputs).

With many sports coming to the end of their season, with a transition into the off-season, athletes and coaches alike need to identify where the investment should be made during this time, as often it is quite a short period of time, and therefore vital you are placing your investment in the right account.

Basketball is most definitely a skills-based game, no one more epitomises this than Steph Curry. He is clearly not the most athletic player in the game, although strong in most areas, yet is dominating the league and the best players in the game. He makes the game look easy; yet the coordination to perform such spectacular plays is based on his level of athleticism, physical literacy and athletic development. His ability to accelerate, decelerate, rapidly change direction, jump & land with control, brace and rotate are all elements of the Pillars of Movement.

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In an Athletic Development setting, since athletes’ have finite training time, it is of great importance the ROI must be extremely high; especially in the professional team sport setting where the pre-season is short (and becoming alarmingly shorter); and subsequently intensive. Identifying weaknesses and improving strengths are factors all good coaches and athletes will want to address but how this is undertaken requires great thought; as time is of the essence. Managing the investment from coach and athlete is tough; as the needs of some athletes require A LOT of time to fix.

As the coach who is programming the sessions, or the athlete who is taking ownership of their off-season program, whether the athletes are part-time semi-professional or full-time professional athletes, you need to know the physiological adaptation (and cost) which will be caused by the workout. As Vern Gambetta frequently states, something to the effect of, ‘making them tired is easy, but is it making them better?’ Any coach can prescribe a workout where athletes finish on their knees; knowing that they worked really hard. This is easy and requires little thought. But, if athletes’ are going to invest their time and effort in completing the workout(s), whether on or off court, and the internal and external load is high, you better ensure the net return to the individual’s fitness (and game) is high also.

These are some of the ways I think you can increase your ROI whether you are the athlete or the coach (and some of this is common sense…for some):

  • Identify both on-court and off-court strengths & weaknesses and prioritise these in discussion with your coach. Being a jack of all trades is probably not going to give you the edge over another player. You must be really REALLY good at 1-2 aspects of the game. This is what your coach will rely on you for. Being average at everything will only get you a nice seat at the end of the bench.

  • Rather than complete individualisation, as the coach, group athletes together based upon a needs analysis. It makes the on-court or off-court workout more specific for the group, but doesn’t remove the competitive nature of the session by completing individually.

  • ROI for technical changes and refine skill acquisition takes time e.g shooting form (and if a senior athlete; a lot of time!) and should be cued and practised frequently, rather than a one-off session.

  • Energy System Development will have a rapid return on investment, especially the anaerobic glycolytic system, but always remember, everything is good in moderation.

  • In pre-season, let the fatigue set in. Don’t go crazy with recovery modalities. Monitor it, BUT allow the investment to give you the full return.

  • If the athlete thinks a particular drill, session or set of sessions gives them a good physiological return; then go with it. The buy-in from doing their session; may provide an even greater psychological return.

  • Be smart with your programming. Within a pre-season, if the acute and/or chronic load is too great, the net return will decrease due to a fatigue hangover one session or one week to the next.

  • Exposing athletes to a superior group of athletes, or athlete, can give them the highest of stimulus (ignition) but also great ROI for that training week or cycle. Once they know of what is possible, or the level they need to rise to, the investment from the athlete becomes deeper as they have new psychological standard which must be reached.

Invest a lot, but invest wise!

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