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Game-Day Rituals

Art of the Nap

Posted: Tuesday January 23, 2007 12:15PM; Updated: Tuesday January 23, 2007 12:15PM
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Cloutier (in mask), Cammalleri (center) and Miller love their shut-eye.
Cloutier (in mask), Cammalleri (center) and Miller love their shut-eye.
Robert Gallagher/SI
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Though a daily siesta can increase productivity and relieve stress -- "If I don't nap, I'll have a horrible game," says Warriors guard Jason Richardson -- not everyone enjoys the practice. "That's like stuff you do when you're a little kid," says Richardson's teammate, forward Ike Diogu. Still, for many professional athletes (especially NBA and NHL players) dozing for a spell between morning practices and evening games is part of their daily regimen. Says Kings defenseman Aaron Miller (who wears jersey number 3 and tends to set his afternoon alarm for 3:33), "I think about all the time I'd have if I didn't nap, but, then, everyone does it. It's a nice part of this profession."

Hoopsters and pucksters agree that there is an art to napping -- especially those who don't nod off quite so easily as SI PLAYERS's First Person subject Joe Johnson. In a hotel room, says Sabres forward Adam Mair, the trick is to "cave it up. You want to get it as dark as possible as fast as possible. You get the drapes closed, bring tape from the rink to tape up the blinds, take a chair and push it up against the blinds to seal it, put your bags along the bottom [of the window] to make sure no light comes in." (Mair also avoids soda because caffeine interferes with his nap.)... Presnooze labor sometimes needs to be divided. Says Los Angeles's Miller, "When you have a roommate there are ground rules. Someone is in charge of the remote control. Someone is in charge of the drapes. Someone is in charge of the wake-up call. The longer you're with the guy, the easier it gets." Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher a proponent of "mandatory naps" who sleeps between 2:00 and 4:00 on game days, says that "on the road finding the right pillow is tough. There are big differences. I like medium. I don't like hard pillows, and I don't like the kind that sink all around you when you bury your head in them." Golden State's Richardson is one of the few players who naps longer on the road ("I get like four or five hours," he says) than at home (about three hours).

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