Ipswich-bred Bullets ace primed for NBL, sharing knowledge
BRISBANE Bullets and Australian Boomers basketballer Matt Hodgson used his COVID-enforced break to advantage.
The Ipswich-bred sportsman received some game time with South West in the Queensland State League and worked on his fitness managing some calf issues.
"I trained very intensely during the off-season,'' the former West Moreton Anglican College and Ipswich Grammar School student said.
His final games before the COVID shutdown were for the Australian Boomers in early March.
The 2020/21 National Basketball League (NBL) has been cleared to resume next month.
"With that much time, I used that as a really good chance to rehab and take the body to a better level than I have been,'' Hodgson said. "So to get into really good nick.
"It just made my training much more specific to what I really needed to address and I had the time to be able to address changes that needed to be made.''
Hodson said the extended time to work on some physical elements made him feel younger.
"I think it has put some more tread back on the tyres,'' the 29-year-old said.
Preparing for his third season with the Bullets, Hodgson also pursued two other passions.
He started his post graduate work on his psychology degree where he is halfway through his honours and looking to complete a masters study.
Hodgson also joined an elite online program to help other people improve their basketball skills.
He is part of the revolutionary SLOCOACH service that connects participants with elite sportspeople through personalised one-on-one coaching.
"They have a very good sort of video editing platform for us to be able to use so you can draw into the video and actually show them specific techniques and whatever changes need to be made,'' Hodgson said.
"I think it's a really smart idea . . . it makes a lot of sense to me because it's high convenience to the athlete, which means they will be a lot more available.
"It's really specific . . . in specific areas of improvement.
"It's a platform where people can upload video, help themselves to find particular skills or even just their game form.''
SLOCOACH has proven particularly helpful during the COVID lockdowns.
Other elite sportspeople involved in the program include Olympian Sally Pearson, Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, former international cricketer Michael Slater, WNBA champion Lauren Jackson, Australian Rugby 7s captain Sharni Williams and AFL great Dane Swan.
Hodgson, a former Australian Institute of Sport scholarship, said SLOCOACH had wide appeal, from more established higher level participants to beginners.
"It's an amazing time for young kids,'' Hodgson said. "They have more access to professional athletes.
"When I was a kid, I don't remember a time where I got to talk to a professional athlete, let alone have skill sessions with them.''
He said younger players have a terrific opportunity to learn from the online offering.
"We made a lot of mistakes through the years and learned a lot of things and the best way to develop at a fast pace is to learn from, not only their mistakes, but mistakes and lessons of others as well.
"It's a good chance for kids these days to learn from the best in the field.''
Although unlikely to coach when he finishes his basketball career, the 29-year-old sportsman was hoping to do some performance or psychology work assisting others.
"So starting that process for me is also about being able to effectively teach younger generations,'' he said.
SLOCOACH allows Hodgson to share his knowledge and further his skills while helping those on the program.
"It's giving techniques and tips on what they are doing so it makes it more specific for them.''
Hodgson is back in pre-season training with the Bullets preparing for matches against South East Melbourne Phoenix at the Gold Coast on December 18 and 20.
The Bullets open their 2020/21 NBL season against the Cairns Taipans at Nissan Arena on January 16.
"I think them (NBL officials) pushing it back as far as did was a decent decision because we are able to at least get fans in,'' he said.
"It's as close the regular season as possible so all things have ended up pretty well, all things considered.''
He welcomed Bullets imports Orlando Johnson and NBA recruit Vic Law, who are currently in quarantine.
Other Bullets squad members for the new season are Harry Froling, Anthony Drmic, Jason Cadee, Nathan Sobey, Tyrell Harrison, Tanner Krebs, Tamuri Wigness and Callum Dalton, a development player.
With family and friends in the Ipswich area, Hodgson was pleased to see teammate Sobey playing for Ipswich Force in the recent Queensland State League competition.
"That was pretty cool,'' he said.
"I think that he embraced it and people really got behind it.
"He did a really good job of helping that team to be successful (finishing second and making the semi-finals).''
Growing up in Ipswich, Hodgson had one season of school basketball aged 10 at Silkstone State School before trying Aussie rules until he was 14.
After returning to basketball for a year and a half at West Moreton Anglican College, he was offered an Ipswich Grammar School scholarship.
He made his first state team in year 11 and was invited to the Australian Institute of Sport the following season.
US stints with Southern Utah and Saint Mary's followed before his return to Australia where he has established a powerful reputation in the NBL.
In 2017, he made his international debut with the Australian Boomers.
Before joining the Bullets, Hodgson reached the NBL grand final series with the Adelaide 36ers.
Now the basketballer with an Ipswich upbringing is focused heavily on psychology and performance while playing and helping others.