NBA Players Who Tweet the Night Before a Game May Be Harming Their Performance

Man Texting On Phone
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Professional athletes have been known to take a social media hiatus before important games—most notably LeBron James during the NBA playoffs and archrival Steph Curry, who joined the “King” this year in putting the kibosh on tweeting in the postseason. But before Game 1 of the rematch of last year’s championship matchup between the Cavs and the Warriors, Curry blurted out “Lock in!” on Twitter just minutes before the game started. They went on to handily beat the Cavs 113–91, and Curry drained six three-pointers, but a new study says that ballers who tweet late at night may be risking a weak performance in the next game.

Researchers from Stony Brook University in New York recently presented the statistical study at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, and showed that if a player fired off a tweet between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., they scored on average around one point less in the next game, and their shot accuracy went down almost two percentage points when compared to games that followed no late-night tweets. When on the court they also shot less and got fewer rebounds, blocks, and steals, and those busy night-owl tweeters ended up playing an average of two minutes less in those games.

The authors used data from 112 NBA players’ Twitter accounts to analyze more than 30,000 tweets from seven seasons going back to 2009, and, to lessen the chance of time zone changes affecting performance, only studied games in the same zone. They also gathered all of the basketball stats from Yahoo Sports.

The study blamed the drop in performance to the lack of sleep: “Using late-night tweeting activity as a proxy for being up late, we interpret these data to show that basketball skills are impaired after getting less sleep,” said study head Jason J. Jones, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at Stony Brook. “While experimental studies have shown the impact of sleep deprivation on performance, this study uses big data to provide interpretable results on real-world performance of basketball players.”   

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