What Masai Ujiri Should Know About Timing
Timing And Rhythm: Can "It" Be Rehabilitated?
It seems that no one in organized sports knows anything about timing and rhythm training and the rehab of timing and rhythm. If an athlete has lost his/her timing and rhythm, the coaches, trainers and management don't have anything in their bag of tricks, which measures timing and rhythm, nor anything which trains the athlete's timing and rhythm to return to normal high levels.
In a recent article about a professional athlete, DeMar DeRozan, who needs timing and rhythm rehab, everyone involved seems to be waiting for "it" to return. This seems to be an incredible waste of valuable resources. Timing and rhythm are simply conditioning issues, but in professional sports, not one seems to understand how to measure, train, tweak, and rehab it.
The Toronto Raptor's General Manager, Masai Ujiri, should be made aware that timing and rhythm can be measured and rehabilitated. It should be standard procedure that an athlete like DeMar DeRozan has already recovered his timing and rhythm by the time his medical rehab is finished. The Raptors should have had him a peak levels of performance as soon as he was medically released and he was back on the court.
But, no one seems to know what this means or how to do it.
No One Does Anything About It
There is an old adage, "Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it." Timing and rhythm is much like that idea about the weather; there is a lot of talk about it in sports news, but no one seems to know what it is, how to measure it, how to improve it, or how to rehab it.
Strength and Conditioning coaches tend to be focused on muscles and connecting tissues. Their practice involves the improvement and conditioning of those things. They are really experts in these aspects of the athlete's body, and it is hard for them to explore outside that frame-of-reference they have been trained in and have been working in for their whole career.
But, timing and rhythm are based in the brain and not based in the muscles. We can observe the state of timing and rhythm for an athlete by observing how those muscles move. But, timing and rhythm is brain-based, not muscle-based. So, measurement, training, conditioning, and rehab of timing and rhythm has to focus on the brain and not on the muscles.
Timing And Rhythm Is Not About Mental Coaching
When this topic is discussed with coaches and trainers, they immediately think this is about mental coaching and sports psychology. But, timing and rhythm training and rehab is not related to those psychological disciplines. Timing and rhythm is not improved by what you think about or what you believe.
Timing and rhythm is related to a specific set of brain circuits which manage an individual's coordination. These brain circuits provide the timing relationships between intention and muscle movement. For instance, if an athlete attempts to catch a ball and his/her muscles don't move with the appropriate timing to catch the ball, we all recognize that the athlete's timing is off (not calibrated for the task).
In most cases, this failed event is not because of faulty muscles. It is true that the muscles did not move the hands and fingers together to in such a way as to catch the ball. But the problem is rarely the muscles themselves. This happens because the signals to those muscles did not arrive at the appropriate times for a successful catch.
The training to improve timing is simple, gentle, physical exercises, which invite the brain to refine and fine-tune an athlete's timing and rhythm to be incredibly precise. There is nothing to learn and nothing to remember.
Testing: Timing testing can provide useful information about an athlete's timing brain circuits. This is a one-minute test, which provides a number on a normal scale of zero (0) to a hundred (100). Professional athletes need to score one hundred ten (110) or more to be performing at the levels needed for their level in their sports. That's right, they have to be off the scale in timing and rhythm.
Training: Timing and rhythm training can bring anyone up to the level of timing needed for professional sports. But, this level of timing and rhythm is not enough by itself. Professional athletes need to have developed the skills, techniques, and strategies of their sport, so that they can actually play that game. At professional levels, athletes have usually been building those skills, techniques, and strategies for 10-15 years.
Coaches and trainers tend to focus on these skills, techniques, and strategies, because this is what has always been the basis of coaching and training in their sport.
Tweaking: Timing and rhythm tweaking involves regular testing and training to keep the athlete's timing and rhythm at the peak levels needed for superior performance in their sport throughout the season.
Rehab: Timing and rhythm is based on the relationship between these timing brain circuits and the muscle fibers needed for precise execution of the sport. Any illness, injury, or surgery has an impact on this relationship. When this relationship is impacted, the athlete needs to return to timing and rhythm training to re-connect the brain and the muscles for optimum performance. This rehab involves re-establishing and re-calibrating these relationships.
Athletes Performing At Peak Levels
When an athlete's brain timing circuits are 110 or more, they perform flawlessly. This means performing at the level of Tiger Woods in 1997-2009 or Vijay Singh in 2003-2004 or Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2004-2009 or Novak Djokovic for the 2011 season. In terms of an athlete's brain performing flawlessly, this also shows up as performing with high levels of precision and accuracy.
These timing and rhythm brain circuits control how many 'mistakes' an athlete makes as well as how accurate the athlete is. As an athlete's timing increases to 110 and more, the athlete eliminates those momentary losses of focus and coordination, on which their mistakes are based. This means that the athlete enters a zone of flawless, highly precise performance and they end up with the kinds of results, which has been demonstrated by Tiger, Vijay, Roger, and Novak, as mentioned above.
How Long Does All This Take?
Basic Training: The initial timing and rhythm training program for a professional athlete usually takes 8-15 one-hour sessions over a 3-5 week period to achieve flawless athletic performance. This wide range in number of sessions is related to the compensations and adaptations each individual athlete has built-up in his/her career.
Tweaking: This may involve 1 or 2 training sessions occasionally, when the timing measurements drop below 110.
Rehab: This may take as long as some 10-12 sessions after major trauma. But, most Rehab is only 4-6 sessions. The timing training regimen is not intense, so the timing and rhythm rehab can usually be done during the last week or two physical therapy.
New Season Preparation: As part of the preparation for the new season, athletes are encouraged to take 3-4 training sessions to fine-tune their timing and rhythm. When they do this during the first two weeks of getting back in shape, they speed their preparation for the new season.