Interview with Omri Casspi: Advice For Athletes
As a professional athlete, what advice do you have for athletic teens?
Live a healthy life. I live a healthy life because if I don’t eat and sleep right and take care of my body, I won’t be able to perform well in general.
To get myself in form to play for the NBA, I had to take it to the next level. I eat every three to three and a half hours and I sleep at least eight and a half hours a night. If I don’t do all of that stuff, I might be able to perform on the court but not as well. So for me, professional basketball takes me to a point that I understand that it is very important for my body.
From my perspective, I am trying to teach the kids, eat breakfast at home in the morning so that when you go to school, you will be more focused and the first few hours will be more effective. When kids don’t eat breakfast and eat their first meal at 10:00 a.m., they will be less effective and they will eat more at 10:00 a.m. than they otherwise would have eaten.
Did you believe this when you were a teenager?
Obviously, what I understand now is a lot different. My lifestyle has evolved from when I was a teenager. But yes, what I knew then, I tried to do then.
So eight-and-a-half hours of sleep for a Cavs player would be typical?
What do you eat on a typical day?
We have a chef in the arena, so we eat breakfast and lunch at the facility and then we take a box home for pre-game. So the chef controls 75 percent of our meals during the day. Then we go to the game and after the game we have food in the locker room. There are days when all I eat are chef-prepared meals. On practice days, we have breakfast and lunch with the team, take some food home for snacking and then dinner is on your own. Other than that they control most of it.
Do you stay away from any foods?
I don’t believe in staying away from anything. We are human beings and kids are kids, whether here or in Israel. Every kid wants chocolate or donuts once in a while. My daily diet is very strict, but Saturday night I let myself go a little. I let my brain and body enjoy something. Even in my sport, you can get a little tired of basketball, so you need to take a vacation for a few days. Sometimes you just have to do something for your soul and body. There is a time for Snickers and a time to be serious.
So you feel the need to take breaks?
Not during the season. Off-season I go home. I let myself go with food. I spend time playing tennis or riding my bike. I let my body relax.
When did you know that you had the talent to go professional?
I don’t think it is like that. It’s more like when you build a building, a step-by-step process. You learn how much you love the game. Then you play on a team and keep getting better. Then you play professional overseas. It was step by step. I decided to play professional after my army service, when I was 21.
What did you do in the army?
I did basic training for one month. Then I was mostly running basketball camps. I was chosen to be in the Elite Athlete Service in the Israeli army. Two athletes are chosen per year for basketball. I spent five hours every day running basketball camps and refereeing.
How do you train?
During the season we play basketball.
So you play basketball to get better at basketball?
Absolutely. We do weights. But during the season we slow down.
Where do you go to feel anonymous?
I feel anonymous everywhere I go.