The title might sound a little bit discriminatory, but it’s not. Players with gap years get injured more than those that have been in season play and that is a simple fact of nature.
If you have taken a few years off for whatever reason, you will not be in shape. And I know some of you will tell me that they have been working out every day etc. While this may be true, it does not match the level of practice you will get in most European teams, especially high-level ones where you would be having practice at LEAST 2 times a day in addition to watching film, running or lifting. If it is your fulltime job, you will work more than if you go shoot around after work back home.
Let us use my old self and the average gap-year player as a comparison of what I mean. I haven’t played ball in quite a long time. If I go to the courts this weekend, I might not get hurt, but the risk is high. Even if I don’t get hurt, I am for sure going to be sore as hell for the next week or so.
You, on the other hand, probably play ball quite often. If you go to the courts this weekend, you might get hurt as well, but the risk is not as high as for me. You probably will not be sore for the next week.
The same can be said for you gap players if you were to go overseas. Most times, the number of practices you will have (especially in the preseason) will tax your body for sure. There is no amount of practice you can do in 2 years that will substitute being on a team and practicing full-time and having games.
Yes, maybe you practice a few times a week and ball all day on the weekend, but you are also not playing games after practicing 10-15 times a week. It will take your body months to get used to that, and while trying to impress your new team, you might push your body to the limit and end up hurting yourself. Pulled muscles are a sign of that and are very common with gap-year players when they get overseas.
Coaches and GM’s know this. They have seen it countless times and have become very wary of gap players. This could be a reason why you are being passed over for a job. Why would I (as a GM) want to take a chance on a player that has been out of a real season for a few years, when I can take a chance on a player (just out of college) who has only been finished with the season a few months before?
Once again, this European game is not just about talent. There is a myriad of deliberations that coaches and GM’s take into consideration when deciding which player to take, most of which you will never be aware of.
I am not trying to discourage anyone who hasn’t played in a few years to stop pursuing the dream of playing overseas. I am only trying to hip you to the game as to why you may not be getting chosen over others so you understand. The more you understand, the less likely you are to get frustrated. The less likely you get frustrated, the more likely you will continue to fight for your dream!