Melbourne United guard Chris Goulding has taken an adapt or perish mindset into the offseason, as he seeks to avoid the ailments that “hindered” his 2018/19 campaign.
Goulding averaged 14.4 points per game last season in a new role coming off the bench for United.
However, the 30-year-old has revealed how his body was banged up for large portions of the season, which restricted his production.
The combination of trying to get back to full fitness, and some handy advice from an NBA legend, has led to Goulding adjusting his offseason program, which has even included severely cutting back on how much time he spends shooting a basketball.
“I have stayed consistently in the gym just working on my body,” Goulding told RSN radio.
“Last year I had some chronic knee tendinopathy, which really hindered me.
“I stayed consistent through the gym with my program, but I didn’t shoot this year for probably the longest I ever have – it was going on like five weeks.
“A few years ago, I was in Dallas and I saw Dirk (Nowitzki). He didn’t shoot for like eight weeks after the season, he got to a stage where he was like, I know how good I am of a shooter, so I’m just going to work on my body and make sure everything is right for when it is time to come out and do what I do best.
“I thought that was really cool. I got a couple of friends that do that as well. I tried it this year.”
Not shooting the basketball for a prolonged period did lead to some rust when he did return to shooting, though.
“I actually shot when I was over in Colorado, a friend of mine is working for the University of Colorado,” Goulding said.
“He said this guy is coming out from Australia, he is a good shooter, he played in the Olympics, I want you to work out with him, he said that to some of his players.
“The first 10 minutes of that workout, I’ve never shot worse in my life. This kid that was going to the University of Colorado would have thought, I’m going to be a pro, I’m going to the Olympics, this is easy.
“After I got my rhythm back, it wasn’t that bad.”
The modified offseason training has been a major change for Goulding, as it’s something he has never experienced.
He concedes taking better care of his body has become a priority, after not realising the full importance of it earlier in his career.
“It’s probably something that I neglected early in my career,” Goulding said.
“You get out of bed and feel great, let’s go, you’re throwing down dunks, your body feels amazing.
“As you hit late 20s and now I’m 30, last year was the first offseason where I felt I didn’t take good enough care of my body.
“I was always in there shooting, running, working out, but the strength side of things I probably let slip. I think I felt that throughout the year.”
Goulding’s health didn’t see him miss chunks of time last season, as he played 31 of a possible 34 games for United.
He received comforting news that surgery wasn’t required, with doctors informing Goulding he needed to build strength in key areas of his body.
Goulding has taken that feedback on board, and says he is reaping the benefits.
“There wasn’t surgery, my body is in pretty good nick,” he said.
“I saw a couple of specialists and they said my tendons are in good nick, it’s just you got to work on everything else around it to support it.
“Just had a six to eight-week program really strengthening my posterior chain. I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling the benefits of that.”
The winds of change have blown through United this offseason, with key championship players Casper Ware and Josh Boone departing the club.
Ware has moved to the Sydney Kings to align with reigning NBL MVP Andrew Bogut, with Goulding commenting Melbourne simply couldn’t match the offer.
However, Goulding holds no hard feelings towards his former teammate, but did acknowledge it grows the Melbourne v Sydney rivalry.
“Whenever you win a championship and go through ups and downs with a group, it’s really hard to look at things realistically and how things need to be looked at,” Goulding said.
“Casper was a tough one to lose, everyone at Melbourne loves him. It just got to a point, as far as I understand, that it couldn’t be done.
“If we wanted to keep our club moving in a positive direction on and off the court, financially, it couldn’t be done.
“I was the first one to congratulate Casper. What you want is someone to succeed and to be able to look after their family. He went out and secured that for him, he moved to Sydney, it adds another little block to our rivalry.”
Goulding also holds confidence that Ware’s replacement, Melo Trimble, will be a positive addition.
“We go and get a Melo Trimble, who was arguably one of the best imports in his first year in the league and that’s something you can’t gloss over,” Goulding said.
“Coming into this league and to perform off the jump is really impressive. Second season around, he is going to be even better.
“Our goal doesn’t change, it is to win a championship.”
Boone is another player United will miss according to Goulding, as he heads to the Illawarra Hawks.
“Josh has a unique skillset where he can go and get 20 points and 10 rebounds and not demand the ball,” Goulding said.
“For an American to come in and do such great things without demanding the ball, it was a really unique skillset. We will miss that from him.
“We are happy he has landed in the league, he is a guy we have to keep in the league. It is a business, the negotiations happened, and we moved in a different direction.
“Another good little rivalry. He is ready to roll for rivalries, when he rolls into Melbourne Arena, he will be ready to go.”