There's a reason why a defensive rebound or a turnover in the UBA can lead to a bucket at the other end in the blink of an eye. When you see a player blaze cross-court in the 39th minute of a game, he's able to do so because of the work put in throughout the year in attaining and maintaining peak physical fitness. As UBA Season 5 draws near, there is an increased sense of urgency among the players to raise their game. A UBA training camp helps them get a potent boost in their play, and here's a look at how that happens.
"This was an intense training camp as always. If the morning session was two hours long, not even five seconds were wasted. Totally efficient, even water breaks were brief and not such that players would sit and talk. If we were not moving, we were in a stance. The coaches got the maximum effort and result from us from the time put in the camp," – said Ajinkya Mane of Pune Peshwas.
When the UBA Bengaluru Training Camp began, the coaches took tangible measurements of the players' 1-mile run timings, shuttle run timings and vertical reach among other quantifiable variables of fitness. In order to make sure that the numbers improved exponentially, the coaches had a detailed plan based on a simple principle- outwork your best self, then outdo that multiple times.
“We have measurements to be able to test the players. We have methods in our system to be able to help them improve the style of play. Everything that we do, we have a system for doing it. We know when we see it, we know when we measure it, and we want to get them back to UBA style, UBA standards.”- UBA League Assistant Coach Jon Kimberlin.
The players had two relentless training sessions each day, with a video review session thrown in between and gym sessions at the end of the day as dessert. There is never any letup or respite in any way, shape or form for a player trying to get a coveted UBA roster spot. "The practices are really intense. If you are going so hard every day your body starts to adapt and you feel a lot fitter," said Himanshu Sharma, Haryana Gold. One thing is assured in a UBA training camp, the players will walk out better versions of themselves as basketball players.
The sessions began with warm-ups, followed by various drills with and without the basketball. Following which the players were divided into teams for intense scrimmages. A brief break for lunch is followed by video sessions reviewing the morning's work on some days, on others, the players jump straight into the second session of the day. There is a strong drive to improve among the players and a deep commitment from the coaches to get them to the next level. "It's very demanding but to keep up with the pace we have to work at that pace," said Sagar Joshi of Punjab Steelers.
The camp is about more than pushing the players to become fitter and faster, basketball skills are worked on an individual and team level as well. "The coaches teach things in deep detail. Something like dribbling is taken to another level, how exactly to do crossover moves, how footwork and movement can be more effective, how to shift weight on feet to get the maximum force, it is all very useful for us to take our game to the next level. Every UBA camp is an opportunity to learn something new," said Himanshu.
Learning something new is a constant motivating factor for basketball players. Basketball presents a perfect stage for observing Darwin's theory of evolution. It allows for endless innovations and improvisations in training, coaching, implementation of skills, game styles, moves, the list goes on. And the coaches made sure to help the players raise their game in a number of different ways.
"Coaches helped in refining so many skills. I worked a lot on my pull up jumper as well, it is one of my go-to moves for when I'm up against a big man in the paint. We worked on fundamental crossovers, how to do double crossovers better, how to put together multiple moves in a combo. The smallest of details, like how to get down low while moving, not just bending from the back but the right way to bend from the knees, coaches did a lot of detailed work with us in terms of such mechanics and taking corrective action," said Mane.
The game is constantly changing and evolving. From bruising behemoths who'd solely operate within two arm's reach of the basket to big men with a hybrid skill set, from mining the mid-range to taking higher percentage shots from up close or beyond the arc, the only constant in the game is change itself. For the players and coaches to be able to perform at the highest level, they need to be able to adapt and consistently raise their game. What was a sure thing yesterday can turn out to be a page from a playbook engraved in a fossil tomorrow.
There is a sense of urgency in how the players train, they know that the competition is only getting fiercer and the UBA training camp gave them a refresher course in the intensity and dedication which they will be putting on display.