Basketball meditation for Exeter Chiefs star

PUBLISHED: 10:32 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:45 08 July 2020

A different training perspective for Olly Woodburn. Photo: Olly Woodburn

A different training perspective for Olly Woodburn. Photo: Olly Woodburn

Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

Winger Olly Woodburn reveals his new way to meditate during the coronavirus lockdown

The competition is a fierce as ever on the basketball court. Photo: Olly WoodburnThe competition is a fierce as ever on the basketball court. Photo: Olly Woodburn

You may or may not have heard but there has been this little thing called coronavirus which has swept across the planet and landed the UK in an enforced lockdown spanning months.

The pandemic gave the majority of us a chance to slow down and take a breath from what we now look back on as the “old normal” and gave people a chance to learn a new hobby, get some long avoided chores ticked off, partake in a Joe Wicks workout and, of course, bake a banana bread.

The free time I was afforded by Covid-19 gave me an unusual responsibility for taking full control over my fitness and health. This may seem standard to the reader who has to source their gym membership, personal training, food and so on. However, pre-Covid, we had a schedule from the Chiefs which told us when to lift weights and what weights to lift. This schedule also told us when we had our breakfast and lunch, which was prepared by an in-house chef.

It's a different type of sports arena for Olly while rugby takes a break.  Photo: Olly WoodburnIt's a different type of sports arena for Olly while rugby takes a break. Photo: Olly Woodburn

Healthy living: why not try rowing with this Exmouth club ?

This got me into thinking about alternative ways to train myself during lockdown. Firstly, meditation. When you suggest meditation to someone, one of the first things which must pop into their head is an individual in baggy, tie-die pants sat crossed-legged, in a room made smoky from incense sticks, chanting “Ommmmm”.

Hoop dreams and meditation have been Olly's workout staples.  Photo: Olly WoodburnHoop dreams and meditation have been Olly's workout staples. Photo: Olly Woodburn

I used to think that before I watched The Last Dance, a documentary on Netflix about Michael Jordan and his legendary Chicago Bulls. Their head coach, Phil Jackson, brought up a common theme about mindfulness and tried to implement meditation and Zen Buddhism into his coaching. This was a philosophy I haven’t seen or been taught during my tenure in professional rugby.

Like the majority of the country, my job had been put on hold and I was afforded a lot of time to stop and take a breath. Lockdown gave me a feeling of empowerment from the responsibility I had to train myself, to keep myself fit or even come back fitter. With only a few weights in my garage to work with and limited facilities I thought of ways of trying to get an edge over other teams and saw the Chicago Bulls as inspiration for an approach others haven’t taken.

Now over the last few months I have tried breathing techniques, yoga methods and other types of meditation. A few of these have stuck with me and I look forward to implementing them into the “new normal” when we return to training. However, the one meditative practice which I have enjoyed the most is playing basketball, some pictures of which I showcase here on these pages.

Heavitree Park’s basketball courts have become my meditation oasis. Shooting hoops with strangers, without the need for small talk, focusing solely on ball-swoosh-to-bucket, is incredibly freeing and paradoxically a very restful form of exercise. So, I will ask you, what is your meditation?

Olly has enjoyed joining others for a game of basketball as part of his lockdown training.  Photo: Olly WoodburnOlly has enjoyed joining others for a game of basketball as part of his lockdown training. Photo: Olly Woodburn

Have you joined the Devon Life Facebook page yet?

Latest from the Devon Life