NBA players are mostly creatures of habit. Whether it’s the superstars or the guys fighting for roster spots, you’re likely to uncover a similar pattern of routines: from workouts to eating and sleeping rituals to post-game relaxation tactics employed on a daily basis.
At 37 years old, Grant Hill has endured injuries that would have ended other men’s careers, and yet he still excels today thanks to discipline with old habits and learning to adapt to new ones as his health becomes increasingly crucial. The 15-year vet, averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 boards as the Suns’ full-time starting SF, takes us through his typical game day routine:
I get up at 6:45, eat breakfast at home, take my daughter to school at 7:30, then get to the (Suns) facility early. When I get there I’ll do some corrective exercises, go to the weight room, and get some shots up. Then I head to shootaround, which lasts from 9:45 to 10:45. Then it’s 10 minutes in the cold tub, shower up, go home and eat a light lunch.
I wouldn’t say I always eat the same thing, but it’s pretty consistent. For breakfast I usually eat oatmeal pancakes or oatmeal waffles. The lunch I eat at 12:30, that could be anything. The lunch when I get up from my nap, I’ll usually have fish and sweet potatoes. So two of the three meals, I mostly eat the same thing.
The most important thing is to get my body up and running. The corrective exercises, that’s a program I set up with the team’s strength and conditioning coaches: abdominal work, strengthening my glutes, basically stuff that works on your core. I get those in before every practice and before every game.
I sleep from 1 p.m. to three. I’ll get up and eat again at 3:45, leave the house and get to the arena at 4:30. Then for the next hour and a half or two hours, it’s just getting myself ready for the game. That’s my routine — I don’t like to deviate from that.
Like you said, athletes are creatures of habit. We like routine. Whether it’s what time you eat or what time you go to sleep, we’ve got to do the same thing. From the time I wake up until the game starts, I do the same thing every day.
It differs a little bit when you’re on the road. If we’re on a back-to-back, we might get up at 11 a.m. and have a breakfast meeting because we normally get in pretty late from the last game. We might watch film during breakfast and have a walk-through. After that most guys go back to their room, lay down and take a nap, then grab something else to eat and check out of the hotel. Sometimes I like to put on my headphones and go for a walk to get my body moving. I listen to all kinds of music — whoever, whenever. On my iPhone I’ve got ’80s pop, I’ve got Motown music, I’ve got hip-hop and R&B. It just depends on what mood I’m in.
When the game is over, the routine is off. Sometimes I’ll go straight home and go to sleep. Sometimes we’ll go out to eat if my wife goes to the game, sometimes I’ll go out to eat with the guys. There’s no rhyme or reason. Me and my wife will be like, “Do we have any food at home?” Then go from there.
The one consistent thing is to eat right. I’ve always been pretty healthy, except for maybe my first couple of years in the League — but the older you get, you pay more attention to what kind of food you put into your body. It’s not really dieting, it’s just how I live. It’s a lifestyle. As an older player I’m very cognizant and very aware of what I put in my body. I know I’m more sensitive to certain things. When I was 21, I could eat fast food and it wouldn’t affect me. Now, I’m pretty sure it would.
It’s not that tough to maintain when you’re on the road. We stay in nice hotels, so they always have healthy options on the room service menu, at least something like salmon with vegetables. If I go out to eat with the guys, we might go to, like, the Hard Rock Cafe, and you can find something healthy on their menu.
I just try to be smart about it, because it’s crucial to your performance and still being able to go at a high level.