Chances are you have not heard of Muscle Activation Technique (MAT). But, athletes such as Peyton Manning and Matt Forte are huge advocates, among countless others who utilize this tactic on a daily basis. But, as a relatively new breakthrough in the realm of performance and injury prevention, many remain unaware.
Essentially, MAT identifies and repairs muscle imbalances, which are the origin of innumerable non-contact injuries daily. If you consistently train and perform at high speeds, your minute imbalances will worsen, eventually resulting in joint and muscle strain, deterioration, and, in due time, serious injury. These imbalances occur when the length and strength of muscles on opposite sides of the bodies (side-to-side) or antagonist muscles (front-to-back), are unequal, and thus extra stress is placed on the joints or muscles of one side. This stress is either compensated for by other joints or muscles, which causes pain (for example, if the ankles are not as mobile, the knee will have to compensate and thus pain will be causes), or the imbalance will result in injury.
To repair these imbalances, MAT follows a three step process. First is a range of motion test. In this test, if any asymmetrical range of motion is observed, every muscle that is associated with the asymmetrical movement identified in the ROM test is tested individually. This is step two. If any muscles are identified as "weak" in this test, which generally is composed of holding the limb in a position that requires strength from the muscle and observing the efficiency and ability of the movement, then it is assumed that this muscle is not recruited sufficiently by the nervous system. If a muscle does not receive proper signal from the nervous system, which can occur for a number of reasons, then it cannot receive neural signals and thus its force-producing ability is impaired. By applying light force at certain muscle connection points, the neural signal can be restored, allowing the nervous system to recognize it again. The muscle is then retested, and generally, it will perform much better.
MAT has demonstrated the ability to show immediate results. Not only does injury risk drop significantly, and pain subsides or even vanishes, but performance benefits have been observed directly after treatment. In fact, according to muscleactivation.com, a pitcher has been recorded at 10mph faster than just previous to their MAT treatment!
As a relatively new technique, there is still much to be discovered about MAT, but also much uncertainty. For now, though, it seems undeniable that Muscle Activation Technique has a good amount of value in preventing injury and boosting performance.
Unless you are a psychologist, I'm sure you have never heard of Non-Conscious Behavior Mimicry. But, it could be one of the keys to improving your basketball game.
Basketball is truly a game of inches. Every movement matters, every situation requires a meticulous attention to detail and perfect execution. NBA players, college players, and even elite high school players are adept at all of this, which is why they are at the level that they are. So, if you're trying to expand your skill set, why not learn from these players?
Here's where Non-Conscious Behavior Mimicry comes in. Essentially, this phenomenon states that when one observes another do something enough, they will eventually mimic it, without even knowing it (citelighter.com). This is why many sons and fathers share characteristics, but also why many basketball players shoot, dribble, or make decisions similar to their favorite players'. So, if just by watching great players play enough, you could "mimic" their play and thus slightly improve yours, why wouldn't you?
This is just one of the many benefits of watching film. Granted, you cannot significantly improve your skills by watching a screen, however you can gain a huge advantage. By watching film of high-level players--and not just watching for highlights; you must actually study every second--you can understand how these players have gotten successful. Looking at their footwork, body positioning, decision making, how they set up moves, defensive positioning, what tricks they use to get steals, and so much more.
There are two main ways to do this. First is watching full games. We understand, however, that this is time-consuming, and the games that you do sit down and watch in their entirety are generally big games that you would like to watch from a fan's perspective. If you are willing to study each movement during Game 7 of the NBA Finals, then great. That's a huge advantage. If you would rather watch from a fan's perspective, at least attempt to watch replays of games (or even quarters of these games), because full games, unlike highlights, show the entire story. In fact, many times mistakes, mundane plays, and defense are just as beneficial to watch as the top plays, because these are the things that truly separate the good and the great. This is also why teams and players should watch their own games (especially losses or poor games). It is much easier to correct a mistake in the future when one has a full, clear idea of what they have done and how to fix it (Which is hard to come by without watching yourself fail. It's easy to watch yourself when you look good!)
If you do not have enough time to watch the entirety or parts of full games (by the way, summer league games, matchups between mediocre NBA teams, and mid-major college games are just as beneficial if not more, because there are players similar to the majority of the basketball population), highlights still are undoubtedly beneficial. Just make sure you are watching for the right things...
How to Watch Film
First, realize what/who you are watching. Know what each player or team does well, or does not do well. For example, if you're watching a Michigan State team, realize how well they rebound (generally). If you're watching Tyler Ulis Kentucky film, understand prior to watching how well he changes pace and controls the game. If you're watching Stephen Curry, know to look for how he reads the defense and uses his body to get to his shots.
Next, as you begin to watch, break down each play in your mind or in notes. Go through plays in slow motion. Watch players' feet, body positioning, and decision making over and over again. Then, analyze it. What situations do they make certain decisions in? How could they improve something? How could you implement it into your game? Or, if it is your film, how could YOU improve?
Really, from there, there are many possibilities. You can keep track of certain shots or plays in a notebook or shot chart, such as the one below of Kyrie's shot chart in the finals...
Then, you could build a workout around your findings (for example, if you believe you have a similar skill set as a certain player, note their shot chart, most used moves and what makes them effective, etc, and then work on those things). You could visualize doing them in game. The opportunities are limitless. But, the point is, if you truly want to get better at basketball, then why not relentlessly watch the elite players like you relentlessly work on your game? It's common sense.
Resources For Watching Film
NBA Game Highlights/Compilations: www.youtube.com/channel/UCEjOSbbaOfgnfRODEEMYlCw
College Highlights/Compilations: www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ZtDh_fAYM4UYzg-xD-t9w/videos
NBA TV (Summer league, replays of vintage games and playoff games, etc)
Highlights for non-superstar players/compilations: www.youtube.com/user/DownToBuck/videos
Krossover/Hudl as team highlights resources