For WNBA players, like many other athletes, life on the road is a grind. In addition to putting in work on the court, the players must also try to find time to rehab, to sleep, to stay in touch with friends and family — or to just find dinner in a city they may not know so well. Not far from any player is her laptop and a pair of headphones, both of which are must-haves for reviewing game tape and getting mentally prepared to play. This year The Players’ Tribune spent time with the Dallas Wings, who after six seasons as the Tulsa Shock, are introducing themselves to a new hometown.
Here teammates Skylar Diggins and Plenette Pierson give fans a glimpse of what really happens before tip-off and after the final buzzer sounds.
The more that we play this game — and a lot of us play year round — the more we all realize we have to take care of our bodies. Your body is your job. We try to do a lot of treatment behind the scenes just making sure we’re taking care of our bodies.
We go into our trainer Allison’s room for what we call treatment parties. All of us usually just gather in there and watch TV while we’re all getting treatment and just rotate, talk about some things that we’re going to do in the game, some things that we’ve done, where to eat — just kind of have that team camaraderie during treatment.
You have to manage yourself and what works for you to be able to get on the court every day. For me, I know getting off the plane and going and grabbing something to eat really quickly, and just going and doing recovery, getting a little massage — those are the things that get me going for shootarounds the next day, so I’m mentally focused and I’m physically focused.
Whenever we travel we do what we can to stay in the zone. People bring their headphones, listen to music, jam out, whether we’re walking through the airport, riding in a bus — anywhere. We watch games. It’s important to make sure we’re prepared to play, but also we have to let our hair down a little bit, relax, and clear our minds.
It’s definitely a tough life flying from here, to there, to everywhere. Finding a comfortable bed — you’re not able to choose your bedding — stuff like that. It’s a lot of moving pieces that you just kind of have to get used to. It’s very tough finding time for treatment, finding time for friends, finding time for film, finding time to just get your mental game together to go out and play.