3 min read

I can’t stop thinking about this article talking about LeBron resting during games.

If you don’t follow the NBA, all you really need to know is that LeBron plays more minutes on the court than just about anyone else. During the Cavs playoff run, he was spending almost zero time on the bench. How did he do it?

James has perfected the art of resting while playing.

It’s a concept high-energy athletes such as boxers and swimmers have used for years: looking for moments in competition in which they can ease their load and allow for little scraps of rest they hope will add up. For James, this means finding times within games when he can catch his breath even when play is going on.

“It’s just about growing, maturing and understanding that you play smarter,” James said. “It’s not like you’re out there and you say, ‘OK, I’m not going to get back on defense here. Not going to do this here.’ It’s just about picking your spots.”

Here’s the data that illustrates it. No one would ever call James slow, but he is when he wants to be. During the regular season, James’ average speed during games was 3.85 mph, according to Second Spectrum tracking data.

Of all players who averaged at least 20 minutes a game, that ranked in the bottom 10 in speed. That’s correct: James moved slower than just about any rotation player in the league. And since the playoffs started, James has gotten even slower. His average has slipped to 3.69 mph.

Here’s why: James walks a lot. During the regular season, about 74.4 percent of James’ time on the court was spent walking. Again, this was in the top 10 in the league.

It manifests itself in many ways. For example, during free throws, James will often walk to the other end of the floor. It saves him having to run when possession changes. He also at times will take himself out of an offensive play and stand on the wing, knowing he needs a breather.

I’m paying a lot more attention to pacing these days. In the evening as I reach mental exhaustion but have a “couple more things I just want to get done,” I’m going to bed and waking up early. I know my pacing in the evening is much slower than in the morning, and if I carve out a couple hours earlier in the day I can get that work done more efficiently.

Instead of working through the weekend as I was for a few months, I lean into Saturday as my day off so that I go into Sunday fully recharged. I’ve found my limit to spending some time working every day is about two weeks — I need at least one full day of rest every two weeks or my pacing and effectiveness plummets. Realistically, it should be every week.

I’ve spent a lot of time holding myself hostage to get something done that I just wasn’t mentally prepared to do efficiently.

Instead of holding myself hostage, I look for where I can effectively puzzle-piece my time and activities before my deadlines to be at my mental peak.

I feel more balanced, energetic, and the output is the same. But it really takes discipline and trust in myself to know “when to pick my spots.”