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You Snooze You Win

Basketball is Psychology XLI


One of the few fair things in life is we each get the same 24 hours every day. Elena Delle Donne and Giannis Antetokounmpo have the same amount of hours in the day you have. 

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is found in how they spend their 24 hours.

Right now is go-time in the basketball world. Practices are starting and every minute needs to be maximized.

The Student Athlete Schedule

The typical schedule of a student athlete may look something like this:

8:00-11:00 practice

11:15-4:15 classes

4:30-5:30 weights

6:00-8:00 study hall

This is a 12 hour day without even taking into account meetings with teammates or coaches, traveling, game days, injury rehabilitation, extra workouts, film, homework assignments, hanging out with friends, eating meals, or sleep. 

We can all agree that success requires some level of sacrifice. If you want to shoot 2,000 extra shots a week, you might have to give up that 2 hours a day spent on netflix and spend it shooting.

Typically when a student athlete feels as if they don't have enough time, the first thing that gets sacrificed is sleep. 

Waking up early and staying up late to study and workout are glorified in our society, but is sacrificing sleep really productive?

The average American sleeps 6.8 hours per night.

LeBron James averages 12 hours of sleep per night. Does that make LeBron lazy, or is sleep part of what makes him so productive on the court?

Stanford Sleep Study

A study was done on the Stanford Men’s Basketball Team where they were required to increase their sleep to 10 hours a night.

“At the end of the sleep extension period, the players ran faster 282-foot sprints (16.2 seconds versus 15.5 seconds) than they had at baseline. Shooting accuracy during practice also improved: Free throw percentages increased by 9 percent and 3-point field goal percentage increased by 9.2 percent. Fatigue levels decreased following sleep extension, and athletes reported improved practices and games.”

"The findings suggest, Mah said, that it’s important for sleep to be prioritized over a long period of time, not just the night before “Game Day.” She called optimal sleep an “unrecognized, but likely critical factor in reaching peak performance.” She said the findings may be applicable to recreational athletes and those at the high school, semi-pro or professional level.”

Increasing sleep can raise your performance level dramatically. There is a misconception that sleeping is lazy, but studies have shown it enhances performances just as getting in the gym to shoot extra shots does. Sleep is not the problem, wasted time is.

Peak Performance

The formula for growth according to Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness in their book Peak Performance is:

Stress + Rest = Growth

Stress demands rest. After a really hard practice, we will not be at our best as far as performance is concerned. However, after you get enough rest and recover, you adapt and become stronger--mentally and physically so you can push even harder next time. Sleep is not equivalent to laziness. Sleep is a vital part of getting better.

With too much stress and not enough rest, you will burn out or get injured.

However, with too much rest and not enough stress, you will become complacent and your progress will stall.

Action Step:

Choose Your Schedule Wisely

Every second of the day, you are choosing what is most important to you.

Be fully intentional with how you spend your time. Write out how you spend each one of your 24 hours and your priorities will be revealed. 

Your priorities are not what you say they are. Your priorities are what your schedule says they are.

Giannis has prioritized sleep and he is very intentional about it. According to,

“As a 14-year-old in Greece, he remembers his father, Charles, insisting he nap between school dismissal at 2 p.m. and a 7 p.m. game. Now, Antetokounmpo indulges after morning shootaround. The Greek Freak drives from the Bucks' downtown practice facility to his home in River Hills, 15 minutes north. He tucks into his custom-sized bed at 1 p.m. and doesn't emerge until 3:45. "If I don't take a nap, I can't play," he says.”

It may seem like there isn’t enough time, but everyone gets 24 hours. Our problem is not always lack of time, often times our problem is an unexamined schedule and lack of commitment to our top priorities. Evaluated how you spend your 24 hours. Maybe you’ll find that you spend 2 hours every night scrolling through Instagram. Studies have shown that extra 2 hours could make you quicker on the court and increase your shooting accuracy.

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