Sleep. Science still hasn’t figured out it’s exact function, but nevertheless, we can’t live without it. Nevertheless, if you’re coaching a school team, particularly a high school or college team, you might notice your players trying as hard as they can to do so. But sleep is important for student athletes.
As a coach, you shouldn’t let your players come to practice tired. What researchers have discovered, is that players deprived of sleep perform worse, and conversely, players that get more of it, perform better. Today I’ll be looking at a couple of recent articles that’ll explain exactly why sleep is important and what it can do for your players. Next week, I’ll give you 5 ideas that you can share with your players to help them get more sleep. Feeling refreshed? Let’s start!
An extensive article summarizing several key studies done on Student Athletes was written by Shona Halson, PhD, commissioned by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. As it’s a lengthy article , I’ll summarize my key learnings for you:
What sleep does
– Dr. Halson outlines sleep’s key function from the outset of the essay: “Sleep is essential for athletes, both for preparing for, and recovering from, training and competition.”
– In short, student athletes need sleep because they’re busy throughout the day! The Sleep Institute recommends teens get 9 and 1/4 hours of sleep a day. Other studies put the figure at a minimum of 8 hours. Do you get that much?
What Lacking Sleep Does
– Of particular interest in Dr. Halson’s article were the studies in “partial sleep deprivation”- lacking sleep over a period of time. Of course, all nighters are a (hopefully rare) occurrence, but it’s the problems caused by constantly lacking sleep, a more common event, that had me interested.
– One study in weightlifters found that anaerobic, maximal performance was more impacted than aerobic, sub maximal exercises. As basketball is an anaerobic sport, requiring maximum effort for short intervals, it’s likely that your player’s performances are being hurt by sleep deprivation.
– Moreover, another study in swimmers found that whilst performance was not affected, “mood state” was significantly impacted, with researches finding the swimmers increasing in “depression, tension, confusion, fatigue and anger”. All of these traits are definitely NOT what you want going around your team.
What Gaining Sleep Does
– It’s not all bad however! The summary showed that studies have proven players that get more sleep will see improvements in their performances.
– A group of basketball players that were instructed to get as much sleep as possible over a two week period found improvements in both sprint times and free throw percentages, but also in mood.
– However it must be noted that not many studies of this type have been conducted. But considering the positive results, surely it wouldn’t be a bad idea to experiment with your own players?
Having looked at the studies, it’s clear to me that sleep, or the absence of it, can have a significant impact on a player’s performance. In practice however, it can be much harder for your players to find the extra time amidst a hectic weekly schedule. That’s why next week I’ll be presenting to you 5 ideas you can share with your student athletes to help them get more sleep. Subscribe here to make sure you don’t miss out!
Until next time, see you on the courts!
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