Mixing with elite company brings about elite thinking, elite conversations and elite opportunities.

Just under three months ago, a small team of professionals embarked on the NBA Summer League Tour under the guidance of Coach Liam Flynn.

The team had varied backgrounds: two coaches (Liam Flynn & Tony Casella), a lawyer/player agent (Olaf Borutz – W Sports & Media), an accountant/club treasurer (Michael Kosch – Mt Gambier Pioneers) and myself. In itself this gave our crew a distinct reach and alternative perspectives on how a basketball club works and how to develop players.

Having spent some time around the injuries of professional athletes – experiencing the pressure of competition, the heights of success, and the heartbreak of failures – I had a few of my own ideas around this side of physiotherapy. The innovation around sports science has and continues to intrigue me. What I had underestimated is the creative thought that goes into recruiting by teams, player development by coaches, and management by agents.

Each discipline has it’s own angle and having a team of us to ask the right questions gave us access into the corners of the minds of some impressive professionals…

Some of the standout conversations for me were:

Coach Billy Lange (Philadelphia 76ers – Player Development) who, when I asked about how strength and conditioning and sports science play a role in player development, was able to recite what the strength and conditioning department are doing, why they are doing it, what data they are collecting and what that data means to the player and to training loads. It was impressive, but not surprising, when Billy explained his journey through the ranks and through teams in leagues where he was head coach – there were no S&C coaches, there were no athletic trainers – he had to do it all. It raised the question in my mind “would team physiotherapists/sports science staff be a greater asset if they had coaching experience?”

George David (Wasserman VP of Basketball Operations) who challenged some stereotypical views. When asked “How do you prepare a player so that they can go as high as possible in the draft?” His response was “Who wants him to go high in the draft? You or him?” which opened up an in depth dialogue of lessons he has learnt from assuming what players wanted versus asking and understanding their needs. His unwaivering commitment to clients and their needs amongst an industry dominated by money strengthened my resolve around how we operate at Good Physio. Financial success is a by-product of doing the job right in the first place and rather than looking at ways to generate more income, that time can be better spent working out ways to do physiotherapy better.

Dr Troy Flanagan (Director of Performance) is a wealth of knowledge. Talking to a guy who wasn’t happy with the information coming out of GPS tracking devices so he went and did a PhD in Aerospace Engineering to develop the technology for an accelerometer…there’s gonna be some interesting chatter. Troy is the picture of an innovative thinker and we talked about his experience with the US Ski Team, optimizing travel, diet and recovery, utilizing Facebook to recruit athletes and implementing Disney technology to help train basketballers – it’s exciting to see what he has planned for the bucks over the next few years. One of the interesting points we talked about was warm-ups – Troy (not from a basketball background per se), was baffled by the relatively stagnant lay-up/rebound traditional warm-up, proposing more dynamic and sorts specific styles of warm-up. Fresh eyes that challenge accepted, and often outdated, traditions are a valuable asset!

If you had asked me prior to me leaving, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what the goal of the trip was. In that sense, it was a leap of faith. Time is never wasted when you’re surrounded by the right people – so it was a leap of faith I was eager to take. Aside from the official meetings, late night conversations with the travelling squad provided intimate insight into their perspectives and, hopefully, they got a much clearer vision of the sports science world. Access to other tournaments, like the Worldwide Invitational and Entersport workouts, allowed a behind-the-scenes look at the grass roots of professional basketball, as desperate guys put there bodies on the line for overseas contracts – one driving 11 hours for a 90-minute session before driving 11 hours straight back home.

Witnessing the effort that these guys go to, and not just these guys but athletes of all levels and pursuits, makes you want to match their desire and make sure you are doing everything you can for them.

If you ask me now what I achieved from the trip, it’s still hard to qualify. Since Vegas, there has been a renewed vision for how Good Physio can function to serve its clients whilst staying innovative and maintaining roots in Sports Physiotherapy. It’s the association with elite professionals that translates to elite care of all our patients that come to the clinic.

None of this would have been possible without the organisation, guidance and supreme networking of Liam Flynn. Find out more about his NBA tours here