Jan 29, 2015
X’s, O’s … & Zzzz’s?

When the Northwestern University football team got off to a sluggish start in its Sept. 15 game against Boston College, Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald wondered why. So he asked his player leadership council for their thoughts on the problem. They told him the game’s 2:30 p.m. start time and prior team pregame activities left them tired at kickoff. Fitzgerald analyzed the players’ concerns and came up with a solution: team nap time.
Fitzgerald formed his decision after the leadership council told him that during a typical week, players arrive at the team complex at 6:50 a.m. for meetings, practice from 8:50 to 10:30, attend class and then take a nap in the early afternoon. Based on those habits, Fitzgerald opted to include a team nap time into his pregame itineraries. For example, in preparation for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against the Cornhuskers, the Wildcats are scheduled for a snooze at 9:30 a.m.

“We’ll wake up, have our pregame meal, do our mental things and then have a mandatory nap,” quarterback Kain Colter told the Chicago Tribune. “Those hotel beds are really comfortable and the pillows are soft. (Then) we’ll come down refreshed and ready to kick some butt.”

At 6-1, Northwestern is off to its best start since 2008. And thanks to the team’s new pre-game nap ritual, the Wildcats aren’t losing any sleep over early-afternoon kickoffs.

Sleep has been gaining more and more traction as a performance enhancer. T&C tackled the issue of sleep-deprived athletes in this article by Northeastern University Director of Sports Performance Art Horne.

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