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.”