For us weekend warriors, making time to play the game we love is a precious use of time. So playing our best and avoiding injury is crucial.

We asked local & international professional fitness and athletic coaches what social sports players and weekend warriors should be doing to make sure they are able to stay on the court.  Here’s what they had to say:

 

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Faizal Ariff is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (NSCA) since 2010 and is the Lead Coach for Original Bootcamp Malaysia. He is also the Head of Internal Operations for Viper Challenge and was formerly a Fitness Columnist and Educator.
 

What is the first thing a recreational athlete should do when he/she gets to the court/field?

Do some basic mobility exercises for the major joints such as shoulders, elbows, hips and knees to increase synovial fluids (for shock absorption, decrease friction and many more functions). After this, they can proceed with a more thorough “activation” movements to “switch on” the necessary muscles that’s going to be used for the activity. As they go through this the heart rate will be gradually increased and the can finish off their warm up with a more dynamic movement such as High Knees, Jumping Jacks, or Jogging.
Dynamic or Static Stretching?
Both types of stretching are beneficial depending on the time and type of activity you are participating in. Generally, Dynamic Stretching is best done before a physical activity while Static is best done post activity. However some forms of Static Stretching done pre-activity can be beneficial for those participating in activities that require an extreme range of motion (such as gymnastics).
 
What’s your recommendation for cool down after the game? 
Take deep breaths to lower your heart rate down especially after an intense game or exercise session. Muscles can only stretch when they are relaxed so it’s important to inhale and exhale fully to trigger your body to relax and go into “rest/recovery” mode. Then you can proceed with bouts of Static Stretching of the muscles that were used during the game/activity.
 
What have you found is best for recovery?
For short term recovery, ample oxygen and hydration can work wonders. For longer term recovery (before the next bout of activity) you need to take in carbs, protein and fats. The ratio of these macronutrients is greatly dependent on your goals.
 
What’s a secret tip you can share for maintaining your fitness to optimize performance on and off the court?
A lot of people ignore this but a good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) is important for your body to fully recover and be in an optimal level. No matter what, you have to take care of the 3 tenets of optimum performance, namely Nutrition, Training, Rest/Recovery for you to realise your full potential.
 
How about in the offseason? What should I do?
Depending on your goals, you can use the off-season to work on your game or improve your strength and conditioning to contribute more towards your team’s success. If you just want to have fun playing social sports, you can use it to maintain or increase your fitness levels for you to be able to enjoy the game a lot more. Remember, the more you can last, the more you can play.
 
Any last words of wisdom for the weekend warrior?
Have Fun but be Responsible for your Body. Your body should be taken care of, instead of neglect so you can use strategies mentioned above to prepare yourself properly, thus increasing your enjoyment towards your game or activity. When you play well, you will Be Awesome.
12419244_452405024956806_8677602787477391262_o (1)John Alexander is the founder of Global Squad, a premier world class basketball development program based in Maryland, USA focused on NCAA level training provides recruiting exposure to players around the world.  He is also a former NCAA athlete and led the inaugural iM4U SSL Global Squad ASEAN Top Baller Camp in Kuala Lumpur.

What is the first thing a recreational athlete should do when he/she gets to the court/field?

You should first go through a dynamic stretching routine. This will get you warm and give your muscles the range of motion necessary to move around during the game. Follow this up with sprints, defensive slides, and explosive movements with the ball. Once the game starts you should be ready to play.

Dynamic or Static Stretching?

Dynamic stretching should be done before training or playing. The benefit of dynamic stretching before training is that it increases blood flow to the muscles, increases the core temperature in your muscles, and will increase range of motion. Static stretching isn’t a great option before training because your muscles are cold and the stress of these stretches could cause harm. Static stretching is great at the end of a workout once your muscles are already warm and exhausted. The exhaustion allows your muscles to relax more and the stretch can be extended. This will help improve flexibility.

What’s your recommendation for cool down after the game?

Finish with a walk for a minute or two to decrease your heart rate then use a static stretching routine. Hold these stretches to the edge of your comfort level to increase flexibility.

What have you found is best for recovery?

Ice and rest! Ice bags on sore joints and muscles will really help players recover. If possible, ice baths and ice buckets are best. Submerging into ice water for 20 minutes will make you feel rejuvenated. Professional athletes like Shane Battier credit ice to the longevity of their careers. Rest is also very important the day following a game.

What’s a secret tip you can share for maintaining your fitness to optimize performance on and off the court?

There really is no one secret to optimizing performance. Good habits throughout the week are important. Diet will fuel your body correctly. Regular strength training will help support your body during stressful activity. Regular cardio training will help oxygen and blood-flow. Proper warm-up and dynamic stretching prior to activity and static stretching and cool down afterward is important. Ice and rest will help with recovery. The worst thing a weekend warrior can do is ignore healthy eating, be inactive during the week, and then try to go hard on the weekend.

In the offseason, what should I do?

Karl Malone said the reason he was able to play for so long is he never got out of shape… even in the off-season. In the off-season you still need to get hard cardio in, strength train, and watch your diet. The one thing I would recommend is avoid running or sprinting more than twice a week. When you run it puts a lot of wear and tear on your body. Every time your foot hits the ground, the ground is hitting you back. Your joints have a limit to the number of hits they can take. Cardio should be done in a pool or on a bike as often as possible.

Any last words of wisdom for the weekend warrior?
You need to stay in shape as you get older. If you ignore any of these steps then injury is almost guaranteed. When you’re not in your 20’s anymore, your body doesn’t want to move the way they used to. It requires attention and deliberate care to do the things we used to.
KarenSiah
Karen Siah is Founder of Kia Kaha Fitness, which offers a range of strength conditioning training including personal, corporate group, youth & senior, as well as pregnant & post partum training.  Besides being an Ironman and having completed and won triathlons & countless marathons, Karen is a certified trainer in a multitude of strength and conditioning fields. She has frequently spoken on radio on living fit and occasionally writes for Runner Malaysia magazine.
What is the first thing a recreational athlete should do when he/she gets to the court/field?
Warm up the body with some simple moves which simulate the activity he is about to do. Eg. if it’s basketball, then some light running, and left to right turns/side shuffles would be good. If it is badminton, forward and backwards steps are good.

Dynamic or Static Stretching?
Dynamic for pre exercise. Static for post. Our muscles need to get into bigger and bigger ranges of motion for exercise, and the only way to do that is to move the muscles dynamically and progressively.
 
What’s your recommendation for cool down after the game? 
Yoga! I kid you not. There are plenty of yoga poses that are stretching just the right muscles for any particular sport. Just have to find out which. Just 3 or 4 poses are good enough to cool down.
 
What have you found is best for recovery
Good meal that’s high in liquids and protein (but low in sugar), and a good sleep. Do not underestimate having enough sleep at night after a workout during the day.
 
What’s a secret tip you can share for maintaining your fitness to optimize performance on and off the court?
I like skipping. It’s easy to do, doesn’t require a lot of space and works all the necessary muscles as well as the cardiovascular system.
 
In the offseason, what should I do?
Work on strength and conditioning. Sort out all the kinks in the muscles, any imbalances, any weaknesses, sort that out. Strengthen and come back stronger.
 
Any last words of wisdom for the weekend warrior?
It’s supposed to be fun. If you’re getting injured or it’s affecting other aspects of your life and you can no longer focus on having fun in your sport, then you need to take a step back. At the end of the day, we all want to do the things we love for as long as we can, so that few extra minutes of warm up/cool down and strengthening is worth it.

There you have it, straight from the pros. Take care of your body and stay on the court!

If you’d like to learn more or seek personal training from these pros:

Faizal Ariff: faizal@bootcamp.com.my
John Alexander: john@abasketballacademy.com
Karen Siah:  karen@kiakaha.com.my
Looking to play? Sports Bandits is an adult co-ed social sports community based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  Get active & Get social at www.sportsbandits.com.  Or join KL’s premier Men’s basketball league at www.statsportsleague.com
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