All around the island the basketball courts have gone quiet, sealed off with red-and-white tape and rims covered with plastic bags, as sports facilities have been closed for over two months owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
With group activities not allowed in Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period, basketball enthusiasts like Tan Jun An have had to find other ways to keep their skills sharp and maintain fitness.
The 20-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic student now participates in virtual workouts organised by the ActiveSG Basketball Academy on Facebook, Instagram and Zoom. The twice weekly sessions allow him to learn new skills and drills from guest instructors such as Slingers players Lavin Raj and Leon Kwek.
“Through the live workouts on Facebook, I am able to learn new drills which help to develop my skillset and it also gives me a chance to support my favourite local players,” said Tan, who used to train twice a week with his club.
“I thought that not being able to play basketball during this period will slow down my progress but instead, I feel like I am getting better by following the different workouts.”
Launched in mid-April to help participants stay active at home, the live workouts include defensive and agility drills, passing fundamentals, ball handling, strength and conditioning. The sessions are conducted on Wednesday and Sunday, with warm-up lead by academy head coach Wu Qing De, before the guests instructors take over to teach the respective drills.
While the academy used to get some 150 students each week before the Covid-19 crisis, that number has since dipped to about 50 for its virtual sessions. Wu said: “We expected a slight drop in participant figures for the live stream sessions. One of the main reasons we found out was that during our physical classes, participants are able to have fun with their friends too.”
Virtual coaching can also be a challenge as they are unable to gauge if their participants are doing the drills correctly, said Wu.
Kelvin Lim, the academy’s assistant coach, added: “Coaching in person is more effective as compared to coaching online, especially for younger children who have just picked up the sport. It is easier for me to correct their stance or movement in person as they might have difficulty in absorbing the key points compared to coaching online.”
For Slingers players Raj and Kwek, who are not paid for the sessions, it was about giving back to the next generation.
“It’s a good space to be in, to help empower the next generation to dream and be like us one day,” said the 23-year-old Kwek.
“Maybe they will become my teammate towards the end of my career.”
Republic Polytechnic student Heidi Tan, 20, said she enjoyed her first run-out at the session as it motivated her to “try and get up and follow the coaches’ instructions”.
Aside from basketball, ActiveSG’s academies in football, tennis, hockey, as well as the ActiveSG Athletics Club, also offer training videos in their respective sports.