If you have ever watched or participated in a warming up lead by Coach Jasper or myself, you know our warming up is far from traditional.
In the game of basketball, we only move forwards 25% of the time. The other 75% is sideways, diagonal or backwards. So why only warm up forwards?
When I played professional basketball in Amsterdam, our Monday evening practices always consisted of fun games, it often didn’t even involve a basketball. The goal is to become better movers. We want to become adaptive athletes; it doesn’t matter what situation we’ve been put in, we can manage ourselves.
Since I started coaching, I have implemented my experiences as a professional basketball player in my coaching style. Not only the basketball techniques and tactics I have learned over the years, but also ways to keep high-intensity, high frequency training fun. Becoming a better overall athlete, will help you to become a better specialized athlete.
In recent years it has become known that early specialization is not good for the young athlete. It causes high risks for injuries and the athletes are more likely to burnout at a young age. Even though repetition is very important to master a skill, the internal motivation should be there to reach your goal.
This is where running backwards comes into play.
A typical warmup with Freestyle Sports consists of the following elements:
- Any form of walking to sprinting, forwards AND backwards.
- Skipping, jumping, high knees and butt kicks, forwards AND backwards.
- Sliding, karaoke shuffles and crawling, in any direction you can imagine.
Is it a little silly? Yes. Is it also fun? Yes! Does it have a purpose to become a better athlete? Most definitely! Getting funny looks the last couple of years when we do our warmups, is something we got used to. Everything we do has a goal and is for the development of the athlete.
You can imagine I got super excited when this article got published March of this year (2018): “A New Direction to Athletic Performance: Understanding the Acute and Longitudinal Responses to Backward Running.” It explains all the benefits of practicing running backwards, including but not limited to:
- Unique higher cardio demands
- Less strain on the knees
- Decreased risks of leg injuries
- Improved change of direction performance
Please practice running backwards as much as you can, but to not fall on your back, remember to keep your nose in front of your toes!
Work Hard, Play Smart, Have Fun!