Want to improve your performance, take it to the next level? According to an article in Training and Conditioning Magazine, student-athletes at Stanford University have been experimenting with “ a potentially significant performance enhancer.” The results are impressive. Daily performance assessments were conducted at each practice over ten weeks on members of the women’s tennis team. Sprint drill times dropped from 19.12 to 17.56, hitting accuracy on serves went up from 12.6 to 15.6 serves and scores on the hitting depth drill improved from 10.85 hits to 15.45 hits.
What is this performance enhancer? A good night’s sleep. Members of the Stanford University women’s tennis team took part in a study lead by Cheri Mah a researcher at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory. Players kept their normal sleep habits for the first two weeks of the study and then over the next eight weeks extended their nightly sleep to 10 – 11 hours.
Athletes, coaches and parents spend a lot of time, energy and money looking for ways to improve performance. One of the simplest and most effective might be right under your nose or under the covers. Take a look at your young athlete’s sleep habits. How much are they getting on a regular basis? As Mah says in the article, “It’s not just about one good night or one really good week of sleep, which is what most athletes have been told up to this point. If you really want to see the biggest change in your performance, it’s something you are going to have to prioritize in your training regimen as much as nutrition, workouts, recovery and strength training.”