With two full weeks of practice under our belts, we (DeMatha) are off to a great start. Our players are starting to jell into a cohesive unit. We are still miles away from where we need to be, but we are moving in the right direction. We have several scrimmages lined up, to help us fine tune things, prior to our season opener on December 1st. Our players are looking forward to competing against someone other than themselves!

Despite the great start, we are physically banged up right now. Our guys compete so hard in practice… there is no shortage of bumps, bruises, and sore muscles. Regardless of how thorough our pre-season strength & conditioning program was… the intensity, volume, and contact has been turned up ten-fold since practice began. It’s normal for players to be a bit banged up in the first few weeks. Their bodies (and minds) are getting acclimated to the rigors of full contact practices. It doesn’t mean our pre-season training was deficient (believe me, it wasn’t). This is just another step up the “intensity ladder.” Our guys were sore the first couple of weeks of our pre-season training… but they adjusted. The same will happen now that practice has begun.
As Clarke W. Griswold said in Christmas Vacation, “it’s all a part of the experience!”
However, it is very important for me to communicate openly with our players and get them to differentiate between discomfort and pain and between being hurt and being injured. Discomfort and having things hurt go with the territory of being a basketball player. Pain and being injured don’t.
I told our guys, “basketball is a physically demanding sport… if something on your body isn’t sore or isn’t hurting… you aren’t playing hard enough!” There is a lot of truth to that. However, that’s where the macho BS ends. It is vital that any issue above and beyond the standard aches and pains gets addressed properly. 
Sharp, shooting pains in the feet, ankles, knees or back… or severe muscular soreness… need to be tended to immediately (preferably by a professional). It is better to address them while they are minor issues, as opposed to letting them become major issues. I would rather have a player miss a day or two of practice in November than a week or two in January!
We do these 3 things consistently to reduce the aches and pains:
20 minute in-season strength workout: http://TinyUrl.com/20MinInSeasonStrength
10 minute standardized pre-practice warm-up: http://TinyUrl.com/PrePracticeWarmUp
5 minute standardized post practice stretch: http://TinyUrl.com/PostPracticeStretch
Now that practice has begun, I recommend every player in your program answer these questions:
  • Have you been on time to every practice?
  • Have you been a great teammate? Coachable? Enthusiastic?
  • Have you given a solid effort every practice?
  • Have you played as well as you are capable of playing?
  • Have you communicated effectively with your coaches and teammates?
  • Have you had fun? 
If you answer “no” to any of these questions you need to make a change… ASAP! If you want to have a remarkable season, you need to be 100% committed to yourself, to your team, and to your coach.
Practice hard. Play smart. Enjoy the journey.
Alan Stein
PS: If you need some innovative drills to spice up your warm-ups, practices, and in-season conditioning… I just released a new DVD: http://Shop.StrongerTeam.com/p-39-in-season-conditioning.aspx