Load management has been a hot topic in the past few weeks. Everyone has been giving out their "expert" opinion while only a few have looked up the actual science. While there is no definitive answer to how much load management is optimal, as every player is different and can take different levels of physical and mental stress, one thing is obvious - taking a break helps you recover.
Baxter Holmes wrote an amazing two-part feature on load management. The first part elaborated on the importance of sleep and how much NBA players and the constant traveling disturbs normal sleep patterns. The second part addressed something we already mentioned when covering Earl Watson's take on this topic - the problem starts in AAU.
The main point Holmes makes in his article is that AAU is having a dramatic effect on the health of young players. AAU players are exhibiting wear and tear in their knees by age 12. P3 founder Dr. Elliot is quoted in the story saying (via ESPN):
"the hardest sport on the human body, where issues -- biomechanical problems -- manifest as injuries, manifest as shortened careers, more so than any other the other sports that we work in."
LeBron went through the AAU system, followed a lot of young stars through their early days in basketball and now has two sons in the AAU system. He knows what he is talking about, and LeBron didn't keep the gloves on (via Yahoo Sports):
“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f---,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through.”
LeBron read reports and seen first hand how the number of AAU games kids play ruin their bodies. His sons would sometimes have a schedule with quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals scheduled between 9 and 12:30. LeBron made it clear to their AAU coaches - if they feel tired and sore, they are not playing. Add to that that his kids have dad's genes and someone who knows how to eat and recover. This is also something LeBron sees kids are not being educated on (via Yahoo Sports):
“And they don’t eat great too. The nutrition part. They don’t eat well at 14, 15, 16. They’re taking all that pounding and then they’re not putting the right s--t in their body. It’s tough.”