Improving your basketball game might actually be as simple as just getting more sleep! It’s no secret that most people don’t get enough sleep, but there could be some negative effects that extend past some extra yawning and sluggishness, especially for young athletes.
Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night has been tied to many facets of athletic performance including alertness, reaction time, accuracy, decision making, speed, recovery time, and a reduced chance of injury.
Top benefits of getting enough sleep for athletes:
Alertness & Reaction Time
When you’re in the middle of a game and being faced with a split second to make or respond to a play, reaction time is crucial. Showing up to your game well rested helps your body to maximize its ability to stay alert and react quickly.
Memory and skill retention
Sleep plays a large role in helping players to build muscle memory so that skills learned in practice can become habit rather than a conscious effort.
Usain Bolt, a 6-time Olympic gold medal winner and world record holder in sprinting, even credits sleep for much of his success!
“Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt.
Sleep loss has been shown to reduce focus, learning, concentration and motivation. All of these are important pieces of playing any sport, including basketball. Playing ball with a well-rested body will help players to take in new knowledge and focus on making decisions on the court.
The regulation of hormones
During the deepest phases of sleep your body releases hormones that are essential for athletic development. Growth hormone is significant in muscle repair & building, bone growth and fat burning. Being short on sleep causes your body to slow it’s release of this hormone, making it difficult to maintain a consistent standard of performance on the court.
Cortisol controls stress levels in the body and is regulated during sleep. It is also closely tied to how the body digests glucose, which is an important factor in building endurance. Since endurance, stamina and stress management are a significant part of basketball, cortisol production is a great reason to monitor sleep levels.
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A study concluded that people were 3 times more likely to develop a cold after coming into direct contact with the virus when they slept less than 7 hours a night. Catching a cold easily can quickly impede an athlete’s ability to play the game to the best of his ability.
Adequate sleep plays a part in preventing injury, as well. Kids are more likely to get injured while playing a sport when they get less than 8 hours of sleep per night.
Help kids maximize their sleep time
- Get homework done before the game so that it won’t cut into sleep time afterwards.
- Provide time for a nap. Whether it’s in the car on the way to a game or after school for an hour, having a nap can help them feel refreshed and ready to get back on the court.
- Have a pre-bedtime routine. After a busy day or an exciting game, it can be difficult to transition into a sleep stage. Having a routine can help kids move from high-energy daytime to a more manageable evening.
Bottom Line – Top Athletes and Coaches Know Sleep is important
It’s clear that no matter what parts of their game a youth athlete is trying to improve, it all ties in to getting enough sleep before they hit the court!