The anxiety of returning to sport after two years of no exercise

Even at my peak, the kind of basketball I played had little in common with the gravity-defying exploits of the NBA players I watch.

But in my current shape, I’m like a wombat with a bad foot trying to play a game designed for gazelles.

I got a text from a friend to see if I’d be up for a couple of hours of basketball.

Ten-minute games, and players can be substituted on and off.

I told him that sounds good, but that I didn’t know if my body would be up for it.

He said it’ll be pretty casual and the skill level won’t be too high.


I agreed to go along, excited at the prospect of playing again, but also nervous and a little anxious about playing again.

And the few times during lockdown that I took my son out on the bike, I came back 20 minutes later gassed, aching and light-headed.

Each time I was convinced that I might need to go to the emergency room.

The ultimate off-season

This was the longest stretch since I was 11 that I’ve ever gone without regular competitive or social sports.

My cardio workouts during the pandemic consisted of walking down the road to get deep-fried chicken burgers.

As for hand-eye coordination, does fishing potato chips out of a narrow tube with my fingers without tipping the whole thing on my lap count?

The thing is, I hate running or jogging or lifting weights. I don’t do yoga. I don’t subscribe to Chris Hemsworth’s app.

I like exercise that involves someone winning or losing.

I like playing in a team environment. With those options taken away, I just didn’t know how else to exercise during the pandemic.

Christian needs team sports to keep him motivated – something that was lacking during the pandemic.(ABC Everyday: Christian Harimanow)

I also have another issue. I believe the technical term for it is “laziness”.

If I don’t have scheduled games or practice (that I have prepaid) to go to, I’m not very motivated to exercise at all.

Between work, raising a toddler and my passionate commitment to streaming services, it feels like my days are always already full.

Still, I dusted off my high tops, swapped my ice-cream-patterned dad socks for padded ankle socks, and made sure I had the other essentials – shorts, singlet, compression singlet, towel, drink bottle, asthma puffer and sports bag.

I pumped up my ball and I was ready to go.

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