DeAndre Thompkins, with his hands clasped together, looked down at his right wrist as he sat inside the Beaver Stadium media room Tuesday afternoon.
The Penn State senior wideout grinned as he stared at his team-issued black electronic wristband.
“I wear it 24/7,” Thompkins said. “It doesn’t come off.”
Thompkins loves WHOOP. No, not the loud noise — a fitness tracking device that records athletes’ sleep, stress level and overall health. It can measure how athletes are recovering, and offers recommendations on how to improve in those areas.
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Penn State football introduced the technology to the Nittany Lions in the spring. An Australian rep for WHOOP visited with the team and, according to linebacker Koa Farmer, he and his teammates “were very excited” about the device that resembles an Apple Watch.
It’s not something James Franklin and his staff require their players to wear. But a lot of players do anyway, which allows the coaches to monitor the players’ results.
“What’s nice is if they aren’t sleeping and they are up too late, I can tap in and my face pops up and I can yell at them to go to sleep,” Franklin said, smiling. “No, I’m kidding.”
Still, in terms of what he and his staff have access to, Franklin’s not far off.
Before the WHOOP wristbands, Franklin could always hop on Twitter to see who’s tweeting at 4 a.m. But now Franklin can know for sure when certain guys are sleeping and what kind of rest they’re getting.
“You can actually see,” the coach said. “He went to bed at 11 o’clock or he went to bed at 1 o’clock, or he went to bed at 11 o’clock but tossed and turned all night and long. Why does he toss and turn? Does he have sleep apnea? What is it? Now we can study that to help him.”
Players like Thompkins and Farmer think it’s useful, too.
Thompkins likes knowing if he’s in the “red, yellow or green” — the way WHOOP measures each night of sleep from bad to good — while Farmer feels at ease understanding how much each day put a strain on his body and how it reacted.
“If you’re working too hard and you’re getting less sleep, how-is-that-going-to-affect-your-day, type thing,” the linebacker said. “So I think that’s pretty interesting to look at.”
Added Thompkins: “Whether my coach sees it or not, that’s something that I can improve on and make myself better.”