USA Today/Associated Press NBA Coaches’ New Play: Tending To Health To Cope With Grind
Except from article featuring Stacy Goldberg, CEO + Founder, Savorfull:
The coaches’ association sends a regular newsletter with guidance from nutrition consultant Stacy Goldberg, who also is always available for 1-on-1 conversations. She attends coach association meetings, too, offering healthy food and snack choices.
“Often, coaches are so focused on taking care of the players that they are not always focused on taking care of themselves,” said Goldberg, founder and CEO of Savorfull. “This is especially true when it comes to their nutrition.”
Added Carlisle: “We view this as important as anything else we do with the NBA coaches association.”
Long days, sleepless nights, packed schedules, and high pressures are the epitome of health concerns for many pro athletes. However, many people neglect to realize that coaches are subjected to the same high stakes as athletes. Because of this, coaches’ health and wellness is now a rising concern in the NBA, and the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) is putting their best efforts forward to improve coaches’ well-being. One important step in this process was the NBCA hiring our nutritionist and CEO, Stacy Goldberg, as its health and wellness consultant.
NBA coaches Steve Kerr, Ty Lue balance stress, pressure and health in grueling industry
CLEVELAND – Golden State coach Steve Kerr learned the importance of proper work-life balance from two of the coaches he played for in the NBA – Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich.
“When I was a player, I kind of wondered if coaches were like holed up in their office all night sleeping on the cot,” Kerr said. “I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked. Both those guys had such diverse interests outside of the game. You know all the stories about both of them.
“Seeing how interesting they both were and how devoted to their families they were and their kids, and how interested they were in our lives besides just what was going on in basketball, I think they really influenced me.”
Health and wellness of NBA coaches is on center stage in this season’s Finals between Golden State and Cleveland. For different reasons, the coaches for both teams – Kerr and Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue – took time off during a season.
Kerr addressed his health in 2015-16 when complications from back surgery forced him to step aside temporarily and allow Luke Walton to coach the team on an interim basis, and last season when he wasn’t feeling well, Kerr turned over coaching duties to Mike Brown during some postseason games.
Lue missed time earlier this season to focus on his health as the result of anxiety, bad diet and poor sleep.
The health and wellness of coaches is just as important as the health and wellness of players. Teams invest millions into their players and are starting to do more to make sure coaches are operating at an optimum level.
“The National Basketball Coaches Association is absolutely vigilant about the importance of proactively nurturing good health for all of our coaches, both head coaches and assistants,” NBPA president and Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s important your health comes first. Your preparation for a season is meticulous and purposeful and once you get into it, you must have a great staff that can take a lot of pressure off the day to day demands and you have to take care of yourself.”
The coaching lifestyle in the NBA is not conducive to healthy living. Late nights, poor eating and drinking habits, inadequate sleep and the high-stakes pressure of winning can take a toll mentally and physically.
The NBA is filled with stories of coaches whose jobs led to physical and mental issues. Rudy Tomjanovich stepped away from coaching the Los Angeles Lakers because of stress. Former Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, recently hired by Orlando, missed 21 games earlier this season due to headaches caused by sleep deprivation.
The NBCA is making an effort to improve coaches’ well-being. The organization sends quarterly health and wellness bulletins with advice on proper diet, sleeping and exercise tips and hired Stacy Goldberg as its health and wellness consultant.
“There’s a ton of emphasis that gets placed on player health,” NBCA executive director David S. Fogel said. “Teams go to great lengths and great financial lengths to have the best doctors, nutritionists and trainers and while they are available to coaches, a lot of times their schedules are full and coaches are left to their own for individual workouts and nutrition plans.
“That’s where we wanted to come in and educate our coaches. We want our coaches to be the most educated in all of professional sports.”
Beyond the quarterly bulletins, Goldberg is available to answer questions and help coaches.
“I provide information that they can apply realistically to their life when it comes to nutrition, health, wellness because we recognize they are extremely busy and so focused on the players,” said Goldberg, who has a master’s degree in public health and is the founder/CEO of Savorfull. “So my initiative with the NBA coaches association has been always to say: Who’s taking care of the coaches?”
Several coaches, such as Dwane Casey, Brad Stevens, Fred Hoiberg and Frank Vogel, try to find a work-life balance through family. When they can, they like to pick up kids from school, have dinner with family or put kids to bed. Stepping away from work is good for the mind and body.
Former Sacramento Kings coach Jerry Reynolds knew he had to stop coaching or else.
Reynolds said there was constant pressure, win or lose. He wasn’t eating or sleeping well and acknowledged he “probably drank too much. … It’s just another habit you don’t need. It became a habit to have three, four beers after every game.
“At that time, I knew health-wise I didn’t think it would be good for me to be in coaching a lot longer, and I wasn’t thank goodness. I’m not sure I’d be here today if I had coached another 10 years to be honest.”
When Lue was out earlier this season, he talked with Kerr.
“We get so wrapped up in the game of basketball I think we kind of forget about everything else,” Lue said. “This was the first time in 20 years where I really just had a chance to focus on me and get myself right and he reminded me of that. We get so wrapped up in the game that we forget about real life and it was the best advice I got – so thank Steve for that.”
Kerr had this general advice for Lue.
“The main message was you can’t allow what feels like the enormity of the job to interfere with your health and your recovery and whatever you need to do,” Kerr said. “I just told him the team will still be there when you get back. Sometimes I think in this job because there is so much passion from the fan bases and because everybody wants to win so badly, it feels bigger than it really is.”
It’s no secret that sports nutrition can be complicated, especially if you’re an athlete or a coach and do not have time to worry about anything other than your game. But, proper or improper nutrition can be a game changer and as our Savorfull Nutrition Expert and NBA Consultant Stacy Goldberg says “Nutrition is THE EDGE in basketball.”
Luckily, Stacy had the opportunity to talk with Shelby Turcotte of Basketball Coaching Academy breaking down sports nutrition in her interview on “Basketball Nutrition 101,”. Here are some highlights from her interview, which can hopefully be helpful hints for basketball players looking to up their nutrition game.
Stacy Goldberg, MPH,RN, CEO and Nutrition Consultant – Savorfull.com
Nutrition can be overwhelming as an athlete or coach.
Even for professionals often times, there’s an abundance of information out there it continues to evolve in terms of research and studies- and it just keeps compounding on itself. So while nutrition is ever complex, I think that there are so many great steps that coaches can take to help improve their players health.
For example, I often get youth coaches who will come up to me and say something like,“I’d love to help give my players more solid nutritional advice, I just don’t know where to begin. How do I start? My players aren’t ready to swap quinoa for rice, I can barely get them to think about anything other than junk food. I can’t tell you how many players on my team love Doritos and they have no idea what they’re consuming for protein and this and that. Where do I begin in terms of trying to make positive changes?”
Realistically, as a coach, you aren’t going to be able to go in and overhaul an entire diet on the entire team nonetheless even one player. The first thing that a coach could tell them to help make positive changes would be to be able to learn the difference between carbs, proteins, and fats.
Be able to understand what the difference is and learning which proteins they can eat to help repair damaged muscle tissue, and to stimulate new development of new tissue, and things like that.
Being able to learn how to eat foods that are going to be good for them, learning to take in carbs which are going to be muscle fuel before, during and after their long workout session.
Teaching them what are the healthy carbs and learning the difference between eating just a traditional piece of white bread versus a 100% whole wheat bread or even learning what are healthy protein options and what are healthy fat options.
The second piece of that is that the really difficult challenge is sugar. If a coach can talk sugar with their athletes that’s going to be critical because even the healthiest of athletes can’t have unlimited amount of sugar. There’s a lot of information out there about what are healthy sugars and what are unhealthy sugars and trying to teach your athletes where you can go to get healthier choices for sugars. That’s a really big deal.
Working with athletes on nutrient timing is really important and being able to provide them information as far as what they should be eating:
3-4 hours before a workout
30 minutes to an hour before a workout
During a workout
After a workout
There is a lot of content and information around that and then being able to help to learn what those are going to be. If you can work with them to learn a little bit about that then that’s going to be critical, what should you be eating two hours after a workout and then two hours after that and 30 minutes after.
Those things are really critical and we can always help provide more information on that if they need it.
You may be asking yourself, “That’s great Stacy, but I’m not sure what the best choices are for my athletes…Carbs? Fats? Proteins?”
When it comes to a healthy carb source I like quinoa much better than I like brown rice. If someone can have quinoa incorporated into their diet, it’s a great choice. It’s not expensive, it’s easy to make, it has a complete amino acid profile. So, it’s really great for recovery and that’s a great choice to be able to use with athletes for sure. So, that’s a great option and then I like getting starchy carbs out. Instead I recommend coaches have their athletes get a lot of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
If you can have an athlete incorporate more vegetables and fruits as their source of healthy carbs that’s great and if they can eliminate a lot of the fruit juice because fruit juice is not good for them. They’re probably drinking too much juice and a lot of them are drinking too much Gatorade too, so they’re getting a lot of extra sugar!
Getting a little bit more serious about it, I love sprouted grains. If people can start experimenting with things like sprouted grains, those are awesome. Beans, lentils those are all really good healthy carbs sources.
When it comes to protein, if they can have healthier protein sources like beans, nuts, seeds, chicken, or turkey; but if they can try to get a variety of different protein options that would really be ideal.
If they don’t have restrictions; if they’re not vegan, if they’re not vegetarian, then they can try to experiment with different types of proteins and that would be the best thing that they could do. Getting protein from eggs, chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, sea food – all of those different sources. If they’re vegan or vegetarian it also requires a more serious look into their diet and helping to be able to give them the resources if they need plant protein or if they need pea protein, or if they’re looking to nuts and seeds as their source of protein.
Being able to adapt and especially when it comes to supplements and bars. If you’re working with an athlete that need assistance and they need a bar or they need a shake or they need something that’s going to have protein in it but you’re not really sure exactly which protein, that’s important to know. Being able to balance the different types of protein and then making sure they’re getting enough protein. That’s the key and that varies by athlete.
Healthy fats – I’m a huge fan of fats and actually many athletes are not getting enough of the healthy fats.
These are things like: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, healthy fats that are found in fish such as salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds. Being able to eat a variety of different types of nuts and nut butters. Peanut butter is out there, but there’s also other nut butters (almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter). Making sure that someone’s getting enough of those healthy fats is really, really important.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of creating a one-size-fits-all template or nutrition plan. I think, in particular for coaches, the most valuable thing you can do is educate your athletes and give them options to help encourage them to make better food choices by looking at some of the examples above.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) highlighted the work of Savorfull CEO & Nutrition ExpertStacy Goldberg this month in their “Day In The Life” Series. An occasional series to feature the behind-the-scenes work of some unsung NBA staffers. The “Day in the Life” project was conceived by Michael H. Goldberg, longtime executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) who passed away in January 2017. Stacy chatted with NBA writer Steve Aschburner about her work in the NBA, how she got started and her role with the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) as their Official Health & Wellness/Nutrition Consultant. Click here to read the full article by Steve Aschburner.
Even though Employee Appreciation Day has past, its never too late to show you care about your team members. This past month. Inc. Magazine came up with 10 Wonderful Gift Ideas For Employee Appreciation Day and we are thrilled to have topped the list at #1. Do your team members really need more ice cream, candy or flowers? Appreciating your team with healthy, free-from foods shows them that you care about their health, wellness and future! In our book, employee appreciation day is everyday. Read more in this article featured on Inc.com by John Brandon “Top 10 Wonderful Gift Ideas For Employee Appreciation Day”
To celebrate NBA Fit Week, Stacy Goldberg, Savorfull CEO & Detroit Pistons Team Nutritionist, worked with the Pistons and Henry Ford Health System to create healthy recipes for students from Generation With Promise to compete in a healthy cook-off. Pistons players, Ish Smith and Darrun Hilliard, worked with the students to create the recipes that Stacy Goldberg and Henry Ford Health System chefs provided for the exciting cook-off! Team Ish made a healthy oven “fried” chicken and mac-n-cheese, while Team Darrun cooked up yummy meatballs with spaghetti squash and salad made with homemade ranch dressing. Stacy sat on a judges panel with Pistons legend Earl Cureton, Stacey Lovelace (WNBA) and executives from the Henry Ford Health System. It was a close call and tough competition but Team Ish was declared the winner! Congrats to all the participants!
Check out more about the event on Pistons.com and enjoy the yummy recipes!