Joel White is a 27-year-old graduate of Syracuse University who works full time as the lacrosse brand manager for BSN Sports, the largest team-based sporting goods distributor in the country. He’s also a three-time MLL All Star and the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year for the Rochester Rattlers.
Dueling professions are the norm in the lives of Major League Lacrosse players, where there are literally no days off in season. They typically work their day jobs all week, hop on a plane Friday, practice that night, take the field for shoot around Saturday morning, play a game that evening, fly home Sunday, then do it all over again.
“It’s a traveling weekend job,” White says. “There’s not really anyone who’s doing it as a moneymaker because they’re strapped, it’s just the opportunity to be able to play the game at the highest level.”
As much as he enjoys competing against the world’s best at the sport he loves, White admits it can be difficult: “It takes a lot out of you and your families, traveling every weekend for four months all summer long, it’s a grind that gets to you a bit.”
Holding down a full-time job while simultaneously maintaining the schedule of a professional athlete is no easy task. Being properly rested for both is an even bigger challenge. White uses WHOOP to help make that possible:
“The mindset of when you talk about your eight hours, going to bed at midnight and waking up at 8 am and thinking you’re sleeping for eight hours–WHOOP shows you you’re really not even getting close to that. Being in bed a little earlier and knowing how long I need to wind down and fall asleep has been a game-changer. If I know my alarm is going off at 6:30 in the morning, now I know I need to be in bed at a certain time to get enough sleep. That’s been huge for me and has energized me on and off the field.”
In order to prevent clubs with more local players from having a competitive advantage, there’s an MLL rule that states teams are only allowed to practice once a week. Because of this, players are forced to fend for themselves when it comes to training schedules.
“It’s all on your own,” White says. “When I’m done with work I have to make sure that I have my time slotted out to train properly without hindering my day job. WHOOP allows me to gauge my workouts, make sure I’m staying healthy during the week and getting enough rest, but also making sure I’m working myself hard enough to be ready to perform on the weekends.”
“One big thing for me is being able to track recovery,” he adds. “You’re traveling and playing all weekend, then waking up Monday, what’s the right thing to do? I have four days essentially where I can really do something–whether it be the weight room, fitness training, or recovery. That Monday morning is key for me to see my Recovery and determine what I can get into. It gauges what I do for the week. Maybe I’m just on the bike on Monday and stretching, something minimal. Tuesday I may get in the weight room, Wednesday go as hard as I can go with lifting, then winding it back down into Friday [to peak for game time].”
White also sees great value in entire teams using WHOOP, particularly as a motivational tool in leagues like his where the players aren’t together every day:
“The team aspect of it is really interesting to me in terms of being able to hold each other accountable–knowing that people are doing what they’re supposed to do during the week and that we’re all coming in at the same level of fitness and work ethic. When I think of the perfect WHOOP athlete, it’s someone who is competitive and working towards individual goals, but also competing against their teammates and holding each other accountable to make sure they’re doing their part for the team.”
White and the Rattlers kick off their 2017 MLL season April 29 against the Florida Launch.