I survived my first basketball camp in 23 years!

Don’t get hurt!

That was goal #1, well, that and not embarrassing my 8-year old by being a step behind in every drill.  And the day after camp was over, the only aches and pains I had were from what I call ‘normal’ issues that come with playing basketball: a sore thumb from jamming it on the ball, an unhappy shoulder from a shorter defender who employed the hack-a-Shaq defense strategy every time I touched the ball, and a couple blisters.  My legs were a little sore the next day, and my back was a little tight.  All-in-all, not too bad for someone that hasn’t played a basketball game in over 10 years.  That’s right – the last basketball game I played was in Stillwater in 2007.  I’m not counting any of the little games I’ve played coaching 7-8-year-olds.  Back in June, I spent 2 days helping at the MLD Faith Academy but other than that I hadn’t touched a basketball since March (Other than rebounding in my garage for my 8-year old, and the occasional game of PIG on the 9-foot rim.)


For several years I was part of an organization that had the mantra “Strength has a greater purpose,” and I honestly came to believe that.  When you are young, going to the gym can be that purpose.  But, after college when the real world kicks us square in the teeth (or crotch if we aren’t paying attention) those endless hours in the gym are hard to find: work, family, more work, and more family responsibilities eat up that time.  How do we grown-ups justify that time for ourselves?  That 2-hour session at the gym has been reduced to maybe 30 minutes of uninterrupted time (I did write an earlier post on how to maximize this).  

Often times, that greater purpose -for the ordinary person- is hard to find.  If you have kids, that ‘greater purpose’ has found you.  One thing I have always aspired to be as a father is present and engaged – beyond that, I fail miserably every day.  Keeping up with a now 8-year old can be tough.  When he asks me at 7:30pm if I want to go play a game of pig, often times it is hard to say yes.  But I do.  He doesn’t know that I’ve been up and running around since 4:45, had lunch at 3:30pm, worked all day, had to break 3 traffic laws to get to the last 20 minutes of his soccer tryout, ate what I can only hope was an old slice of pizza for dinner, frantically mowed the lawn, and had just sat down and took breath right when he asked that question.  And, I had the easy part of the day – my wife did all of that and had to mix in taking care of me as well.

What’s Important

I realized very early, we can buy our kids everything on the planet but often times those objects get lost, broken, or forgotten.  What stands the test of time, and is always there are the memories we are able to create.  So, when I saw the opportunity to mix basketball, OSU, and 2-days with my son I committed before I knew when or how much it was going to cost.  When school let out in May, a little voice in my head started to whisper:

“42 days until basketball camp – don’t embarrass yourself…”  

“41 days until basketball camp – don’t embarrass yourself…”

So, how does a 40-year-old prepare for basketball camp?  I kept visualizing that scene in Rocky Balboa when Rocky was preparing to come out of retirement to fight Mason Dixon, and Apollo’s trainer was putting together their training plan:

“You know all there is to know about fighting, so there’s no sense us going down that same old road again. 

To beat this guy, you need speed – you don’t have it. And your knees can’t take the pounding, so hard running is out. And you got arthritis in your neck, and you’ve got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out.

So, what we’ll be calling on is good ol‘ fashion blunt force trauma. Horsepower. Heavy-duty, cast-iron, pile-driving punches that will have to hurt so much they’ll rattle his ancestors. Every time you hit him with a shot, it’s gotta feel like he tried kissing the express train. 

Yeah! Let’s start building some hurtin’ bombs!”

Sadly, in those few hours of preparing to go through basketball camp the Rocky soundtrack was never playing in my background – guess that’s the difference between real-life and the movies, my soundtrack was “dad, where are my soccer shoes,” “dad, can we go for a bike ride.”  

The Prep:

So, as a 40-year-old going back to camp (and not knowing how easy/difficult it was going to be) what did I do to get ready?  Not knowing what to expect, led to one approach: “Plan for the worst.”  So, I assumed it was going to be tough.  How I trained, was strikingly similar to how I have my athletes train, but with a little (actually A LOT) more emphasis on recovery.  Here is exactly what I did:

  • 7-days a week, I started my day with a 10-minute breath workout.  
  • 7-days a week, I ended my day with a 10-minute breath workout.

Early on THESE were the hardest components of my training.  I’m serving as one of my guinea pigs with this-something new we are getting into.

  • Monday-Friday at 4:45am I’d do between 300-600 kettlebells swings of different variations.
  • 2-3 days per week I’d get a second training session in (squatting, deadlifting, pull-ups, bench press – hey, had to make sure I looked the part, and all the other lifts we discuss in the NLM series.)

These were the easy part – It’s just what I’d been doing for the past several years, and follows right along with the content of our 3 ebooks.

  • 1-2 times per week I’d do a very challenging breathing based training session that lasted for 30-45 minutes (bike, ruck, jump rope, etc.).
  • For the last 6 weeks, 1 day a week I’d run on the football field.  ‘Sprints’ (at least in my mind) from 20 all the way up to 100 yards.

These last 2 are where those early, horrible breathing protocols saved the day.  Again, I was playing the role of a guinea pig as I was integrating a different breathing approach to the training.  I was able to recover extremely quickly.  In total, I logged 10 total miles of running leading up to the camp.  Over these 6 weeks, I dropped my mile time from 8:15 down to 7:05 and my 400m time down to 1:02 from 1:15 (hey – I’m not a runner of any kind unless there are donuts in front of me or something bigger than me behind me.)  Also, I completed a KB snatch test in 3:45.  The quickest I’ve ever finished one, and, did zero prep work for this – nice little carryover…

At no time at the camp was I too tired to push a little harder.  Even during the final Parents-only game (two 15-minute halves, and a 3-minute OT), I was able to always get my breathing under control within 3-5 breaths.  By the end, my legs were getting a little heavy, but when the final buzzer went off, I still had quite a bit left in the tank.  And most importantly, I was able to go through all the drills with my son.  AND EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY – we were able to win a few things: all our 2-on-2 games, a couple relays, and we each won 2 games of knock out.  He admitted that Dad still had a few skills left and wasn’t completely a washed up has been.  


In all reality, I needed this camp.  Not just for me, for Kalen and I – the typical father/son ups and downs and been wearing on me.  In all reality, I was looking forward to this camp for a LONG time, but when Coach Boynton opened camp and said this was about spending time together with our kids, I got even more excited.  There were a few times I did some things precisely because I knew he was watching – sprinting at the end of a relay our team was losing in order to get the win at the last minute, dunking on a couple lay-up drills, going hard until the whistle during the parent’s game, and not showing I was tired.  Pretty much, all the things I kept working on him to do during the past basketball season.


Coach Boynton is the one taking the shot.  He hit it, fyi.

The entire experience was terrific.  What Coach Boynton, Coach Paige, and the entire OSU basketball team put together went far beyond what it was advertised as.  Kalen loved being able to interact with the players and to compete in Gallager-Iba Arena.  His favorite part was seeing the locker room and the free time (he explained that he just wanted to be able to go out on the court when no one else was there to get even more practice in).  However, there was only 1 problem: they forgot to give me the paperwork regarding my scholarship for the upcoming year.  Maybe it’s in the mail?  Otherwise, guess I’ll be making a run next year to earn the title as the “first 41-year-old freshman” in the country.  I say that because on the trim back I was rewarded with the best thing possible:

“I can’t wait to do that again next year!”

This morning, the training for Father-Son Camp 2019 began….

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