The learnings of an injury or in this case, three.
Martin is a professional basketball player who has had an interesting journey so far. From playing basketball only for fun to playing in the highest basketball league in the Czech Republic.
His journey has been a hard path, not only physically but also mentally, as he had to recover and overcome a few serious injuries.
Martin and I played basketball together in the second highest league before I moved to London; I also had the privilege to briefly train him when he played in youth. Today I am proud to be able to share his inspirational story with you. Special thanks goes to @alebrijeconsulting for helping with editing this article.
- Martin David -
As I was growing and becoming a better basketball player, I was selected to form part of the National Czech Republic Team under 16 years old and I had the incredible opportunity of playing in the European championship.
Everything went well. However, following this huge success in my basketball career, my first serious injury happened; I was 16 years old.
One day after practice, I decided to stay at the gym by myself to shoot a couple of extra shots. As I was doing a spin move, I stepped on the ball, fell on the floor and sort of sat on my arm. I have never felt this kind of pain before; I looked at my arm, and I assumed it was broken.
I had to wait for my mum to pick me up and she took me straight to the hospital. I had broken the radius bone in my non-shooting arm. The doctors tried to fix it by pulling my arm and attempting to put the bones back into place; they fixed a plaster cast and sent me home. I continued to do regular check ups with the doctor, and everything seemed fine.
I had to wear a plaster cast for 3 months and soon after the cast was removed, I started my recovery process. At the recovery centre, I found out that the supination (rotation of hand) on my injured arm had decreased by 25%. This was not normal and later, sadly, I found out that doctors had made a mistake when fixing my arm as my bones had not grown together properly. My arm would have to be broken again to be fixed surgically.
- Martin David (on the right) with his teammate Ondrej Marz
Not long after I broke it accidentally again by myself.
It was sort of a blessing in disguise, as this second fracture meant I could get my arm fixed properly. I went to see specialists in Prague, where they fitted a couple of screws inside my arm; recovery took around 10 months to a year. Thankfully, as it was only my arm that was injured, I was able to exercise the rest of my body.
“The worst part of the injury is the beginning when you cannot do anything.”
You feel completely helpless. As soon as I started the recovery process, it felt like half the victory was accomplished, as the routine and strong desire to return to basketball kept me focused. My arm healed and even after having the same injury back-to-back, I was able to get to the level I was before; I was playing at my best again.
When I turned 18, I was selected to play for the National Czech Republic team again and not only that. I played all the matches on the European championship in the starting five.
After one and a half years of playing, the doctors decided to remove the screws from my arm. Sadly, three months later the same injury happened to me for the third time!
Whilst we were warming up during half time of a game in Brno, someone ran under me and I flipped on my back landing on my arm; it snapped, and it was completely bent. I was in shock and not feeling much, but when my brother saw me, he felt sick to his stomach.
This time, however, it was worse and more serious as I broke both bones in my forearm, damaging my nerves as well. I was sent to Prague again for another surgery and they put my arm together with screws yet once again; I still have those screws until this day.
“I thought to myself, this is it, this is the end; how could it have happened to me again, a third time?”
I was also going through a break–up with my girlfriend, so at that point, I hit rock bottom.
It took me 6 months before I could even start exercising with my fingers. Following that, I started working on my hand grip and I also started working on my state of mind. I had a personal coach who helped me with this, and I also had huge support from my parents and my new girlfriend at the time, Bara, who helped me when I was at my lowest; we are still together now after almost 5 years.
- Martin David with girlfriend Bara
When I finally recovered, I started to play basketball again. The beginning was tough as we had a new coach, I had to start from scratch and sadly, I did not play well. I felt under a lot of pressure. From the point when I used to be the best on the team I was fighting for minutes. I was struggling and I lost motivation I used to have.
I was finally recovered and ready to play, why did I want to quit?
Fortunately, my love for basketball was stronger, and it helped me to regain strength and get through it. After having a bad season, I decided to train hard during the summer. A new coach joined us for the upcoming season, Erik Eisman, and this is when everything started changing.
- Martin David (on the left) with coach Erik Eisman
When Erik came to the club, he did not have high expectations and did not put me under any pressure. He also knew how to communicate with me and the other players. He saw my potential and my hard work in practise. The main difference was that he trusted me, and this gave me confidence again.
There was a game when I failed to score four open shots in a row, and my defence was also bad. He substituted me and instead of screaming at me, he just stroked my head and did not say a word. When I looked at him, I knew he understood exactly how I was feeling at that point and I immediately knew we were on the same page. The very next game I scored 33 points and we won the game during the second overtime.
I started to enjoy basketball again and Erik asked if I would like to try playing on pro level. I said yes, and he organised a try–out for me; I was selected and made it to the professional league.
- Martin David signing professional contract
Today, Erik is one of my good friends and I am pleased to say we have a great friendship also outside of basketball.
The injuries are still on the back of my mind and I know I need to be careful. When at practice, I make sure I avoid any risky moves to prevent an injury, however when I play at a game, it is completely different; I forget about everything and I give it my 100%. I play with arm protection, which helps me mentally more than anything, but I would not play without it. My arm hurts sometimes after games, but I recover and carry on.
Every time I got injured, I would ask myself, what could I have possibly done differently to avoid the injury?
Now I do a lot of injury prevention exercises, so I now know I am doing everything I can.
Having suffered multiple fractures in my arm and ankle, and suffering from scoliosis, I spend a lot of my time practicing stability on wobble boards; around 1 to 2 hours a day doing compensation exercises and using resistance bands.
Even though the injuries took a lot from me, they gave something back to me too.
I learnt about being resilient, and even though I sometimes still wonder about where I could have been if these injuries have never happened, I learnt to accept things as they are and work with what we have. Having the injures showed me how to look after my body and it also taught me about the people around me.
- Martin is now playing his third season in the highest league. –
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