Training Camp Memories
Recently Retired 11 year pro, Ronnie Burrell shares his best memories of his training experience throughout his career.
As a recently retired player, one of the things I always stress to young guys is preparation for training camp and what to expect. First of all, be prepared for anything! Training methods vary all over the world and you may be asked to do things that we normally don’t do in America to train. My first year in France, was the first time I was introduced to distance running, as I found myself on a one hour run through Paris the day after I landed at the airport. The main thing to remember is simply to always come in great shape and don’t complain about the workload, just get through it and be ready to perform well in friendly games. The first month after you arrive is when teams will determine whether or not to keep you. As an American, you are not given the luxury to work yourself into playing shape and be ready to put up numbers when the season starts. You are expected to be performing at a high-level right off the plane.
Distance running was a constant theme of, literally, every training camp I ever attended in Europe. 45 minute to 1 hr runs through the mountains, woods, around lakes, on the track, wherever. Never enjoyed it, but knew it was a part of their training philosophy. So, I would always make sure I warmed up for my basketball workouts in the summer with a few miles on the treadmill, just to prepare and find my pace.
I will always remember a place called Rogla, Slovenia. It was the place where the former Yugoslavian national team used to train including international basketball legends, Vlade Divac, Drazen Petrovic, and Dino Raja. So, it became a popular training destination for coaches from Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro etc. I have spent a total of almost 2 months in Rogla over three training camps, mainly with one of my favorite coaches Predrag Krunic, who happens to be Bosnian.
During my days in Oldenburg and Bayreuth, Germany where I played for coach Krunic, we would arrive in our city and do a week of pre-camp conditioning before heading to Rogla. Rogla is in the Alps, about 5,000 feet above sea level. It never failed that I would get car sick on the ride up the winding mountain roads. Beautiful scenery of farm land, cliffs and trees that I never got to enjoy because of queasiness. Never the less, I had to be ready to run as soon as we got off the bus. The training camp is just a ski resort that is free of snow and occupants in the summer, so we stay in the small, cabin-like hotel rooms with Wifi mainly only in the lobby. There is a small store, a cafeteria with a small buffet, two tracks, a basketball gym with two courts and a very old weight room. And then there is always, the woods and mountains that were used for long conditioning runs. For usually 2-3 weeks at a time we would have 2 or 3 practices a day, track running, weights, conditioning, practice, lots of treatment, massage, eat, ice, sleep, repeat. We would scrimmage the other teams during the week that were also training in Rogla. Those weeks used to be brutal and sometimes boring, but I would always come down from the altitude in GREAT shape. I would also have the time to read a whole novel or binge watch a TV series at night before I passed out each night. Once you get through camp, the worst is over. But you will definitely be in great shape and get to bond with your team. And if you show up out of shape, you will most likely be looking for a new job, haha…