One of the most frustrating things fans have to deal with is out of shape players. Out of all the things we expect from players on “our” team, being in shape seems most in their control. Eat right, do cardio and weights, and it should work. Teams today have entire sports performance departments, personalized nutrition and workout plans, and spectacular facilities. The only thing preventing players from being in shape is a lack of self-discipline.
The problem is, how do we judge if a player is in shape? We primarily use the eye test. There’s a certain expectation of how a person in shape looks (we can thank social media for that), and if a player fails that standard, we immediately assume he’s been slacking. Jared Dudley explains it’s not always like that.
“Yes. I weigh 235, my body fat is 9 percent. The difference is guys like me, Paul Pierce, Carmelo, Jabari, we don’t have natural cuts.”Jared Dudley via The Athletic
Shaq always said some guys are not “salad eaters” and will never be cut, but that doesn’t make them out of shape. With Harden and Doncic, we learned deceleration is as essential as acceleration – there are different kinds of athleticism. Players chasing that Instagram body is unrelated to their athletic ability on the court can negatively impact their performance.
“People say, “Hey, you don’t even lift.” I lift, just how my body type is now. I’ve gone through the phase where I basically starved myself, lost a lot of weight to 222, but then played like shit because I’m tired. Don’t have the night I want. That’s when it’s losing weight the wrong way. So you have to be in shape to play.”Jared Dudley via The Athletic
There is a difference between looking like you are in shape and being in shape. We shouldn’t judge a player by the way he looks in photos, but how he performs in the game. Count how many times his arms are on his knees, trying to catch a breath, how hard he fights through screens, and does he shy away from contact. That’s how you know if someone’s been slacking.