The day that Sergio Scariolo announced his agreement with the Toronto Raptors to go to the NBA as a member of Nick Nurse's technical team, the coach analyzed the duplication of positions as an opportunity to multiply resources, not as a problem due to doubling. Despite the overload of work and air miles, the coach only added advantages to his new schedule , which he inaugurated in 2018 and led him to the conquest of the ring and the World Cup in China that same season. "I will be able to incorporate methodologies, systems and details of the best basketball in the world to work with the selection," Scariolo developed in his day. “The contribution will be of a higher level. I'm going to the NBA to learn and enrich myself with concepts, "he completed.
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Facing the challenge of the Tokyo Games this summer, Scariolo, concerned about the physical deficit of Spanish basketball , expressly asked the Federation for an NBA signing to implement in the Spanish selection the scientific advances they boast of in the American mecca. The reinforcement is Lorena Torres (Ibiza, 1981), a specialist in high performance and sports science with five years of experience in the biomedical departments of the Spurs and the Sixers. "Chapó for FEB and Scariolo, for his visionary spirit and for being open to incorporating science and technology in the search for resources to make a difference," Torres explains in conversation with EL PAÍS from Philadelphia. "It is about collecting information, filtering what can have a real impact on decision-making, providing knowledge, listening to the needs of athletes, maximizing their performance, preventing injuries, and recovering as soon as possible", develops Lorena, outlining the specificities of his work, which cross-links technology, data, mechanics, medicine, nutrition and psychology among other aspects. “The sum of information and experience is the most powerful. I have to learn Scariolo's methodology, his style of play, know what he likes and what has worked for him, to speak the same language and grow as a team, mixing physical information with technical-tactical information ”, continues the specialist, with passion for his office and thanks to the FEB. “The NBA is the best, but reaching the national team is the best.”
Graduated in Sports Sciences and Physical Activity from the INEFC of Barcelona, Torres joined the CAR of San Cugat after finishing her degree and worked there in different modalities: tennis and golf among others. The doctoral thesis opened doors in international research groups, linked it to the university field and took it to basketball, in the Barcelona quarry as the first stop, since it combined with the national synchronized swimming team. In October 2015, the NBA captured his talent. At Gregg Popovich's San Antonio Spurs, she served as coordinator of the sports science department for four seasons, in a role that evolved into research, implementation of technological advances, and data analysis. And, last year, at the Sixers, she was the director of the performance department, with a higher hierarchy on the development and coordination of physical preparation, nutrition and mental health (through the prescription of mindfulness , meditation and yoga techniques. ). Since this month, Torres is already working on preparing the men's team for the Games, with the idea of transferring his science to the women's team and to the rest of the FEB categories.
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The reduction of the size of the control devices of physical parameters, the development of nanotechnology (with compression garments with integrated electromyography systems, patches capable of measuring the composition of sweat and glucose or lactate levels, or insoles with integrated load chips ), the speed of data processing and the evolution of positioning systems ( tracking ), to monitor training sessions and matches (with measurement of efforts and accelerations, heat maps …), have led to a growing revolution in recent years in the NBA.
A crucial volume of data to integrate biomechanics and physiology in the day-to-day of teams. To measure the workloads in each session and the minutes on the track to the millimeter, and to trace the best recovery of efforts. “With regard to the Games, it is about analyzing in detail the state of the players, from the moment their seasons end until the moment they join the national team. Then you have to have everything ready and develop a super individualized job so that they can perform at the highest level. We must define the work of those who can evolve in their performance, those who have to maintain themselves and those who must recover for having gone further in their respective seasons ”, Torres details, faced with the challenge of harmonizing the physique of players of different ages , wear and tear and competitive travel, with injuries or covid infections during the course .
Lorena Torres supervises a Ben Simmons training in the Sixers gymnasium
Lorena Torres lived from within the last years of the Big Three of the Spurs formed by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The first two extended their careers until they were 40 years old (with five rings on their resumes); the Frenchman (with four titles) did so until he was 36, after overcoming a serious injury (rupture of the quadriceps ligament). Torres worked on Parker's recovery. “Our job is to extend the competitive life and take care of the adaptation of the player to the evolution of his physical characteristics. Science has gained many years of sports life ”, he points out. The challenge is the Spanish team has the name of Pau Gasol. “It is a mental wonder. He has lived through a very tough process, but his goal has been very clear. What he is achieving is spectacular. Going back is already a success ”, explains Torres. "Pau is Pau playing 35 minutes or 10. He always contributes, on the court, on the bench, in the locker room …", complete.
"Humanity is still not very good at predicting. The economic crises, the pandemic… nobody saw it coming, ”Torres launches to introduce his plea in favor of sports science. “You have to control everything that is controllable, to try to anticipate yourself. Having all the possible information in any scenario, knowing that then everything can depend on a shot. Let them tell the Sixers with that triple by Kawhi Leonard, who bounced four times off the rim before entering ”, completes Lorena. Holistic science to minimize chance. The journey from big data to the dream of another Olympic podium.
“The balance of body and mind is crucial for the athlete”
In the 2014-15 season, the accumulation of important injuries of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis , Derrick Rose, Paul George and Joel Embiid among others, motivated the reaction of the Players Association that led to the progressive implementation in the teams of the Sports Science department. Monitoring of loads, analysis of nutrition and supplementation, recovery and mental aspect, began to be treated comprehensively in the area of performance improvement. And, in the medical part, the resources for the prevention of injuries and the best recovery from them were expanded. “When I came to the NBA six years ago, few franchises had a Sports Science. Now many have it and the NFL is incorporating it as well. Everything is developing very quickly with the very evolution of technology and the analysis of information, ”says Lorena Torres. "In the NBA now there are more back to back, four and five games in seven days … The management of the schedule and the balance of body and mind of the athletes is crucial. In the sport of the past, the same person acted as a physical trainer, as a recuperator, as a doctor and even as a prop. Now there is an immense staff to be aware of the details of the 15 players ”, completes Torres. In the Spanish team, the staff that Lorena now joins is headed by Scariolo and is made up of her four assistant technicians, a doctor, two physiotherapists, two trainers, the delegate and a material manager, in addition to the press and audiovisual department. FEB.
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