With the help of outside vendors and an on-call nutritionist, the National Basketball Coaches Association is encouraging NBA coaches to actively focus on their health as they go through the grind of a long season, just like the players.
The NBA season, with its 82 games and a seemingly never-ending series of playoff contests, is an endurance game—and not just for the players on the court. NBA coaches have their health to worry about, too.
Perhaps it’s for this reason that the National Basketball Coaches Association has put a strong emphasis on health and wellness in recent years. NBCA has an on-staff nutritionist who writes a newsletter for the coaches and makes herself available to individual coaches as needed.
“Often, coaches are so focused on taking care of the players that they are not always focused on taking care of themselves,” nutrition consultant Stacy Goldberg told the Associated Press. “This is especially true when it comes to their nutrition.”
NBCA also encourages head coaches to implement nutrition programs for their staffs, a challenge given the grind of night-in-night-out basketball.
“The game consumes us. It consumes me at least, and it should, if you love it,” Doc Rivers, coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, told the AP. “And it’s just hard to turn off.” He added that paying better attention to wellness “is important. We have to do it. We should have been doing it.”
During the offseason, NBCA offers free health screenings to coaches as part of the NBA’s Summer League.
Several high-profile coaches have had serious health scares, including current Orlando coach Steve Clifford, who suffered severe headaches and missed several weeks last season with the Charlotte Hornets due to sleep deprivation, NBA.com reported. Cleveland’s Tyrone Lue was sidelined for two weeks by anxiety and stress-related ailments.
It’s with such cases in mind that NBCA has teamed with outside vendors, such as the mobile testing company Atlantic Heart, to keep an eye on players’ health.
Rick Carlisle, head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and NBCA’s current president, told the AP that the league is full of “guys that are extremely competitive but have great respect for one another and provide a high level of support for each other.”
This, he said, extends to the organization’s focus on health issues throughout the year. “We view this as important as anything else we do with the NBA coaches association,” he added.