Once draft night is over, the Orlando Magic’s newest players must prepare for the transition from college basketball to the physical and mental rigors of the 82-game NBA season. And there’s one thing that’s critical to get them there: whole health.
And if you’re looking to boost your fitness, too, we’re here to help. We spoke with Orlando Magic Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Nathan Spencer and
AdventHealth exercise physiologist Matt Marse about how new players — and you — can prepare the body and mind for peak performance.
Commit to a Schedule
For Orlando Magic players, the stress of training and the game is only part of the challenge. Traveling for months at a time can also strain the body, mind and spirit. If your schedule has been altered recently, you could be experiencing similar stress, too.
Nathan Spencer says developing a schedule and routine is a big part of coping with life on the road. “One of the things that people take for granted in regards to the college athlete is having a set schedule: a regular sleep pattern and regular eating times and regular structure with class schedules and practice.”
Spencer says they try to give Magic players a sense of normalcy when the team is home in Orlando, but it is the road trips that take the real toll. He explains, “There’s a huge adjustment for the rookies, a lot of them are young and have not lived on their own or developed the life skills and experiences that professional athletes need. As much as the coaching staff helps them to perform during games, our training staff and entire organization talks with them a lot about life off the court.”
Spencer says the younger players benefit from more structure compared to veteran teammates. “In younger players, we focus on boosting strength and resiliency. They work out every single day, getting shots up and doing conditioning work. And we find that the post game is best opportunity for strength training sessions because after games will be the longest period to recover before the next physical stimulus, whether that be on the court or in the weight room.”
The structure and consistency help new Magic players grow physically and mentally to get through the longest basketball season of their career.
Start Slow and Steady
AdventHealth exercise physiologist Matt Marse knows how hard it can be to find the motivation to develop and maintain your fitness schedule. And just like Orlando Magic rookies adapting to the NBA workload, he recommends starting slow whether you are new to working out or trying to take your fitness to the next level.
“Take it slow and steady, aiming for gradual progression. That could be every single session that you go out for that run, increasing your weight by one or two pounds every single time or increasing your run by time or distance. Otherwise, you may put yourself at a higher risk for injury.”
Marse also stresses the importance of warming up your muscles. “You want to make sure that you're doing a proper warm up and cool down, and that will really help with that long-term journey with exercise. Give yourself plenty of rest and your body time to recover. Warm-ups and rest will ensure that when you do get out there, you are able to give your full effort.”
Marse recommends being realistic about your fitness goals based on your age, health and lifestyle. “I would say as you get older, it becomes more and more important to warm up to really get your body and my muscles going. It's going to take a little bit longer. So, try not to think about how fast you progressed in your 20s, early 30s, and really just look at yourself in the present. And when do want to progress, test it out a little bit with incremental increases.”
Get Enough Sleep
For young NBA players, extensive travel and time away from family, friends and their familiar surroundings can be a challenge.
Spencer explains, “The simplest way to create some normalcy is having awareness around the importance of proper sleep for optimal performance. On the road, we take every opportunity to get naps in when we can.”
If you’re committing to a fitness routine, it’s also important for you to prioritize a healthy sleep and rest routine. During sleep, your body rests and recovers so you can tackle your next work out or big game ahead.
Be Active Every Day
We know the week can get busy, but Marse cautions against only exercising on the weekends.
“I understand it is hard to exercise during the week. You need some dedicated, scheduled time to be able to do it. Exercising every single day at a shorter time frame, even if it is 20 or 30 minutes during the week, will help keep your body ready. And then you can do your hard workouts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This keeps your body in rhythm and keeps your body knowing it is going to do some sort of physical activity every day. Only exercising on the weekends puts yourself at a higher risk for an injury. It is really important to listen to your body, listen to what it is saying — nobody knows your body better than you.”
Join Our Team for Whole-Health
We’re here to support you in achieving your fitness goals — and whole health. See how AdventHealth is teaming up with the Orlando Magic to offer whole-person care to the Orlando community and beyond.