Balancing Sleep and Basketball

» December 19, 2009 4:47 PM | By Brandon Hoffman

Howard Beck writes in today’s New York Times that a growing interest in sleep science could lead to an end of the pregame shootaround era, when teams used the shootaround as a means to force players to rise early. A favorite excerpt:

The typical night game ends at about 10 p.m. By the time players shower, dress and speak with the news media, it is close to 11 p.m. They are usually famished, so everyone eats a late dinner. Even the most conservative players — those who do not frequent nightclubs — will not get to sleep until at least 2 a.m. If the team is traveling, players may not reach their hotel until 3 a.m.

For a shoot-around or practice that starts at 10 a.m., players have to arrive as early as 9 a.m. to lift weights, receive treatment or be taped.

“You’re talking about our players functioning on five or six hours of sleep a day,” Rivers said, “and that’s just not good enough.”

Rivers was once a skeptic on the topic. He now speaks like a sleep evangelist.

“If you go three, four, five days in a row with less than six hours of sleep, your reaction time is comparable to that of someone legally drunk,” Rivers said. “You’re trying to play a basketball game where just a 10th of second, a degree off, throws your whole game off.”

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