Klay Thompson may appear to be a quiet guy. The effortless way the Golden State Warriors' guard drains 3-pointers and sinks contested jump shots might lead you to believe that he's totally chill, maybe even aloof. But when he opens up about his preparation, it's clear Thompson is a bit more regimented than he might let on.
"As a high school player and collegiate [athlete], I would just kinda show up and play," Thompson says. "My approach to the game is a lot more calculated now."
Thompson is famous for his championship ring; for being the Warriors' second all-team leader in successful treys (behind the incomparable Stephen Curry); and for his incredible 60-points-in-29-minutes performance against the Indiana Pacers last December. But he also holds another stat, one that's less talked about but just as impressive: he has started more than 40 NBA Playoff games in 5 consecutive postseason runs, averaging 37.8 minutes per game.
What keeps Thompson coming back so fresh every night? And how can you use it to your advantage?
Thompson has a system—and he sticks to it
Certain aspects of Thompson's routine are non-negotiable. For example: His post-workout drink.
"I love chocolate milk," Thompson says. "I don't know who doesn't. It's been very beneficial nutritionally in my life, especially because it refuels me after I work out—and it tastes great too."
One look at the nutrition facts label explains why athletes trust chocolate milk so much. The drink delivers the 3-to-1 carbs-to-protein ratio scientifically proven to be optimal for muscle repair and recovery. Lowfat chocolate milk contains high quality, complete protein, meaning it provides the essential amino acids your body needs to build lean muscle.
"I'm drinking chocolate milk 12 months out of the year, because I'm trying to stay in shape," Thompson says. "I have a glass after every workout."
Thompson knows that lowfat chocolate milk's benefits are backed by science. Studies suggest that drinking lowfat chocolate milk after a tough workout could help athletes perform better the next time they train. For example, a study at Indiana University found that who consumed lowfat chocolate milk after an intense period of cycling were able to train longer and with more power during a second exercise session compared to when the same athletes drank a carbohydrate-only sports drink
Thompson also knows that the vitamin D and calcium in the drink support bone health, as well as B vitamins for energy. "Athletes drink lowfat chocolate milk post-workout because it helps restore muscles quickly to their peak potential and helps replenish what your body has lost during strenuous exercise — including fluids, important nutrients and electrolytes (calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium) lost in sweat." That's why Thompson says that not a training day goes by when he doesn't drink chocolate milk, and it's why it can help you recover more effectively, too, after your tough workouts.
Thompson is serious about his rest
Another consistent element in Thompson's routine? Getting proper sleep. That means sleeping more than the recommended 8 hours per night that most of us should get (but few actually do—especially athletes in the famously sleep-deprived NBA and its demanding schedule).
"If I don't have a game day nap, you might as well chalk it up as a loss for me," says Thompson. "I have to have my game day nap. I get my mind right, get a little rest, and maximize my energy for the game."
If you can squeeze them into your schedule, those extra Zzzs will also help you. You don't need to spend extra hours in bed during the day. Studies show that a 20-minute catnap can be just as refreshing and effective.
Thompson has an escape plan
The NBA's 82-game regular season schedule takes a toll on all of its athletes—both physically and mentally. According to Thompson, one of the keys to staying sharp for all those games is to take breaks and get away from them.
"Whether it's the arena or the practice gym, I don't get to see a lot of daylight sometimes, so it's important to get outside, get some sun, get some fresh air," Thompson says. "You have to get your mind off the game. It could be just sitting outside reading a book, or playing pool, or playing chess, or playing video games."
Sports psychologists agree that learning "relaxed intensity" is a crucial skill for an athete's success. You could use any of Thompson's techniques for recharging, or simply spend a few minutes doing breathing exercises. Whatever you do, give your brain some downtime and a chance to reload for your next effort.
"You gotta have a certain balance so that you are eager to go to the gym every day, and hungry to get into the arena and put on a show," Thompson says.
Thompson has a strong support team
Thompson benefits from having superstar teammates like Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green on the court. But he also has help off the court—namely, his dog Rocco. "I love to take my dog Rocco to the park," he says. Thompson even brought the bulldog with him to a recent commercial shoot for Chocolate Milk. The two are best buds who hang out at the park and at Thompson's pad between practices and games. Choose to roll with a crowd that helps you be better too.
What happens when it all comes together
The last lesson you can take from Thompson? When something works, stick with it. That's why he always reaches for a glass of chocolate milk as soon as he steps out of the gym. Thompson says that level of consistency gives him the incredible confidence with which he plays, and ultimately helps power huge offensive outpourings like his 60-point night.
"After about four or five made shots, you'll take a really bad one and it happens to go in," Thompson says. "When you're in the zone like that, you'll make shots like that because you're playing with unlimited confidence. [There's] great adrenaline when you're in that zone. You don't seem to get tired—at least I don't. "
You can put Thompson's methods to work for yourself. Experiment to find the rest and recovery plan that works for you. When you find it—you guessed it—stick with it. The results might be pretty special.
"There's electricity in the air," Thompson says of those can't-miss nights. "It's just a great feeling. You've got the crowd on its feet, and everyone's oohing and ahhing just when you touch the ball. It's a lot of fun."