What one needs to know is that all scales can be considered custom-made because they serve certain needs, they measure certain amounts of weight, and so on. Distance covered isn’t a perfect metric to measure a player’s load. “When those things are systematically prioritized and implemented, a player’s career can be extended. As Ted Polglaze, a sports scientist in Australia who conducted his PhD study on the energetic demands of team sports, notes, it doesn’t fully account for starts and stops, which put extra stress on a player’s joints. Basketball’s pace is the fastest it’s been since the late ’80s, which has meant more deceleration, and subsequently more stress on players’ bodies that goes beyond contact or how many minutes they have played. Have you ever seen Lionel Messi go from zero to 100 in half a second? That Kawhi has realized its importance is half of the work. Knowing how fit you are is crucial before starting a new exercise or diet regimen, or simply for knowing what areas of your body you need to work more on.
Some of the equipments are very sensitive to even the slight variation or irregularity on the floor. And he’s done it at a time when players are covering more ground than ever even as their minutes decrease, as NBC’s Tom Haberstroh pointed out. But in basketball, if you are covering more distance, you’re also likely doing more of the starting and stopping that takes a toll on players. Sometimes dogs doing it to be closer to the person so as to greet them. NBA trainers and sports scientists put an emphasis on how crucial postgame recovery is, especially in the context of maintaining strength during a long season. He is part of a group that conducted a study on soccer players in the Champions League and found evidence that the median age of players in the tournament has risen due to an increased emphasis on load management and recovery. It’s why nutrition, sleep, training, and recovery have all become nearly as important as the game itself.
That’s why in showers and baths you put a waterproofing membrane under the tile. Other times, he’s more deceptive, staying put in the corner until the ball finds him, or using a hesitation dribble that slows the game down to his preferred pace. When he’s handling the ball, the whole offense slows down to whatever pace he deems proper. Now exhale slowly as you bring the body down to the starting position and relax. “He’s fast, but he doesn’t always use that speed,” says Moe Harkless, who’s now a teammate but up until this season was an opposing defender. “The two things that the body doesn’t like is deceleration and torque—turning,” Vitti says. “You look at his body and you think he’s going to run around and beat everybody up, but he doesn’t let anybody rush him,” Suns head coach Monty Williams says. But Kawhi’s load management goes beyond fine-tuning his body.
Messi roams the midfield at a relatively casual pace until, in the blink of an eye, he revs up and goes. Though Kawhi rarely reveals personal details, he did admit after the first game against the Spurs that long-term health is a priority that goes beyond his own benefit. One physical trainer currently working with an NBA team says it’s impossible for casual fans to see just how stressful today’s game is on players’ bodies, not to mention their minds. It’s the same way on defense, where his load has been helped by rarely having to cover the best guy on the opposing team (that’s why you trade for Paul George). But he knows that number will shoot up in the postseason—he averaged a career-high 39 minutes per game in the playoffs with Toronto, and for the Clippers to make a deep run, he’ll likely need to do the same in L.A.