Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Time on the Sideline

Team sweats have been my uniform as of late.

  I haven't written about my on-going season is quite some time.

  I initially stopped writing game recaps when I found myself frustrated with how my team's season was going. It was almost as if I felt like I was jinxing our team. The more I wrote about us, the worse we did. So I stopped.

  But by this point, nearly six weeks into our second half schedule, I thought I would be back giving you all game updates. I thought we'd turn our season around, things would start looking up, and I'd want to share that turnaround.

  And it's not that a turnaround hasn't happened -- we're .500 since resuming play. But I haven't been on the court much since the New Year. In fact, I have yet to play a game in 2013.

  I was bitten by the injury bug.

My Aching Back
  The injury that always seems to get me at one point or another during the year, my bad back, finally got me. It was nothing out of the ordinary, the same as what always happens. I'm usually out for two to three days, and then I'm back at it. But not this time.

  The timing of this back tweak couldn't have been worse. It was a few hours before we were to leave on a 17-hour bus ride. If there's anything that doesn't mix with back pain/injuries, it's a road trip -- and a long one at that. Knowing I wouldn't be able to play, I stayed home. I felt that would give me the best chance at a quick recovery.

I'll be back to this soon.
  Almost five weeks, and four missed games later, here I am still trying to get back on the court full-time.

  There have been four attempts, counting this week's, to get back into practice. The previous three all ended the same: with me on the sideline, frustrated and stretching.

  I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (but I remember thinking that several weeks ago, only to have the tunnel go dark again).

No Playing 'Careful'
  Here's the thing about coming back from injury: you have to be comfortable, and you have to be 100% confident in your body to play at a high level.

  Last week was the first time I participated in a full practice with my teammates, complete with some five-on-five scrimmaging. My body felt insecure. I felt any wrong twist or turn would end in pain. Anything I did too quickly, I feared. I kept telling myself that I needed to be 'careful', and not get too carried away.

  I was neither comfortable, nor confident. In fact, I felt like a robot.

  At some point during the practice, I forgot about thinking. Instinct took over, and I loosened up. Just as that happened, I drove baseline, twisted to the right, and laid a pass off to a cutting teammate for a layup. Good play, but it sent me to the sideline in pain. 

  Basketball is a game of reactions, your instinct will take over sooner or later, and you won't be able to 'play careful'.

Nothing to do, but cheer.
  If you have to think, you cannot play. If you're trying to protect yourself, or play cautiously, you cannot play. Yes, you can play. But not effectively. And that doesn't do your team, your teammates, or yourself, justice.

  Also, playing at less than 100%, is a good way to further injure yourself.

  When you've been on the sidelines for what you feel is too long, you start to doubt yourself. You think: Am I being too cautious? Do I just need to get out there? But at the end of the day, only you know your body. Only you know what you are feeling. You have to continue to listen to your body, and go with your instinct.

  At the time, I did not think that tweak five weeks ago would have kept me off the court for so long. But that's the way it goes sometimes. You cannot rush, and you cannot speed up recovery before your body is ready.

  It's definitely been a long five weeks -- not being able to participate in practice and games -- but I think I'm getting there. We have one more bye this weekend, so I am confident that I'll be on the court with my teammates come gameday next Saturday!


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