In college, I spent a season on the UCLA Crew team. This meant being on the water at 5:30A.M. four days a week, and the water was a 20-minute drive from my residence. Our early practice time had practical implications: we rowed in the marina in Marina Del Rey, and after 7 or 8A.M., the water got choppy and the traffic increased and it made rowing much more difficult than rowing in the calm, flat water before sunrise.
Frequently, I read about basketball coaches who demand that players work out at 6A.M. These coaches seem to rejoice in forcing their players out of bed early, as showing up for a mandatory 6A.M. workout is a sign of dedication or toughness.
I have never understood these workouts. Most college teams play mid to late afternoon games on weekends and evening games during the week. Why practice early in the morning? It disrupts sleep patterns and your body has a different rhythm.
Boston Celtics’ Head Coach Doc Rivers agrees. On the advice of sleep medicine specialist Dr. Charles A. Czeisler of Harvard Medical School, the Celtics are getting rid of the morning shoot-around and have moved practice times later in the day, for the most part. As Rivers explains:
Guys are fresher, I think, if we walk it over right before (the game). They pick it up and they actually have a better chance of remembering it, rather than at 10 a.m. A lot of this comes from the sleep deprivation guy, this is the main reason we’re doing it. Clearly, our practices this year have been noticeably better because they are later, they got more sleep, more rest.”