Monday, December 21, 2009

NBA Teams Sleeping Like Champions

Previously the Sleep Education Blog reported that both the Boston Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers have been making sleep a priority. Now it seems like sleep is catching on in the NBA.

As a result the early morning shoot-around may become a casualty of this renewed emphasis on sleep. Over the weekend sportswriter Howard Beck
wrote in the New York Times:

For 38 years, the morning shoot-around has been an unquestioned staple of the N.B.A. game-day routine. It may soon be extinct, another dusty exhibit in basketball history, next to the peach basket, the two-handed set shot and John Stockton’s short shorts.

The San Antonio Spurs were the trend setters. Two years ago they stopped holding morning shoot-arounds on game days.

This season they’ve eliminated morning practices altogether. Instead they’re practicing at 4 p.m.

“The shootarounds were the beginning,” Spurs head coach Greg Popovich
told the San Antonio Express-News. “The next step was actually giving them more time to get more sleep.”

The Celtics and Blazers aren’t the only teams that have noticed. The Times reports that the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Washington Wizards also are experimenting with changes to their practice schedules.

The goal is to help players overcome the grueling demands of the long NBA season. Late games, early practices and
jet lag can be a nightmare for sleep-deprived athletes.

“The general principle is that if you are going to prioritize anything, you should prioritize sleep,” Harvard sleep researcher and NBA consultant
Dr. Charles Czeisler told the Times.

But in the NBA the bottom line is that you have to win. Principles can get tossed out the window of the team bus if they don’t translate into victories on the court.

That may explain why sleep is the newest fad in the NBA. The sleeping teams have been winning. So other teams are starting to follow their game plan.

The Spurs have won three out of the last seven NBA championships. The Celtics won the
2008 NBA Title and have a 21-5 record so far this season. And last year the Blazers surged to a tie for first place in their division.

As sleep continues to help these teams win, other teams are likely to start getting more sleep. It’s the new sleep cycle in the NBA.

Learn more about how sleep improves sports performance.

Image by Jack

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