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Basketball has salvaged my health

1 June 2010 No Comment

As fun as it is to play basketball, it is very physically challenging – and so I treat it as a full-fledged workout, as I should at my age. I make sure to handle the obvious; I stretch before playing, make sure to eat and drink plenty of fluids and avoid playing in pick-up games that may result in a heart attack. The idea is to get a good workout and be wise while staying out of the hospital – and avoid dealing with our health care system.

Whether it is at the gym or the playground, I kind of stick to a specific routine. If I can spread this routine over 60 minutes, I am sure to be exhausted. For example, I begin by shooting 10-to-20 shots from inside 8 feet, then switch to the Mikan Drill, which consists of alternating right-handed and left-handed layups from directly underneath the basket while trying to keep the ball elevated above the shoulders. It may not sound like much, but it is extremely taxing on your arms and legs and if you are able to make 20 or 25 in a row, you’ll experience jelly arms and legs.

At that point, you’ll be good and sweaty, and ready for more expansive action. Next, I shoot elbow jumpers until I make four straight, two from each elbow. Sometimes, I nail them on my first attempt, sometimes it takes awhile. I continue with elbow jumpers and mid-range jumpers for as long as I can refrain myself from shooting 3s. I often can’t wait if I’m feeling frisky, or if I know others are watching. I’ll go ahead and next shoot probably about 25 or 30 attempts from 3, making sure I put back rebounds near the basket with as much energy as I can muster. If I shoot 30 from 3-point range, my expectation is to make 12.

I always shoot 25 free throws, with my goal to average 19 makes. I enjoy imagining that I am in a free throw shooting contest where I am shooting last in the final round and I need 19 to tie and 20 to win. Of course, I try to conjure up the sense of someone – or a crowd – rooting me on.

It is essential for me to make my last two 3s before leaving the court. If I’m fatigued, this can take awhile. My final 3 needs to be from the top of the key, then I can walk away triumphant.

I have numerous variations on this entire routine, including shooting 3s in an around-the-world fashion. You have to make a 3 before moving to the next spot, but this can be aggravating as missing consecutive shots and having to chase the ball down each time can wear on you. It can just get impractical as I try to incorporate 9 different spots (top of the key, and 4 spots spread from the baseline wing onward).

The other thing I do is to work on my post game. I fully realize this sounds silly, being a 6-0 guy in his mid-30s who rarely plays competitively. My idea is to mix things up as much as I can, which makes you work various parts of your body at the same time. Plus, being a huge hoops fan, I can always mimic my favorite player’s post moves and enjoy doing so.

If you can include sprints, and a few full-court layups, then you will be thoroughly exhausted. My personal theory is that everything has be fun to work consistently, so if anything is making me pissed off during my routine, I just change it up as best as I can. I don’t have OCD, but I am stubborn and am well-aware of this.

Playing twice per week for the past 14 months has been great for me, as I’ve written previously. I sweat out the beer, keep the belly reasonable and, much to my surprise, don’t feel I need to worry about being 200+ pounds any longer.

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