Knicks: Cleanthony Early Using Yoga to Improve Defense

Cleanthony Early has been doing yoga this offseason to help improve his defense, as per Ian Begley of ESPN.

Early said yoga has been a regular part of his offseason workout regimen. Thanks in part to yoga, Early says he’s noticed a difference in his defensive positioning, dribble positioning, ankle and hip mobility and overall flexibility.

I think all of those [factors] really matter as far as getting your body in shape and getting to a certain level of conditioning,” Early said on Sunday at a fundraising event for a children’s cancer foundation.

Hopefully yoga does help Early improve his defense, the New York Knicks sorely need Early to get better on the defensive end.  Last season opponents shot better against Early, as compared to their season field goal percentage, an increase of +2.3% per NBA.com.

As Early is stretched further and further out to the perimeter, Early’s defense gets worse and worse. Opponents shot +4% better than their season average against Early from 15 feet and greater, and +6.3% better than their season average from the three-point line. Although…it could have been a systematic problem with New York being the worst team defending the three-point line last season, allowing opponents to shoot 38% from downtown, as per NBA.com.

Early believes yoga will also be helpful in increasing his durability for the growling long 82 game season.

I’m focused on preparing myself for an 82-game season,

Based off of last year, the guys that we have this year, there’s nothing but opportunity [this season],

There’s a chance that I can play a decent amount of minutes, if not a good amount of minutes. Phil [Jackson] said it. [Derek] Fisher said it. It’s just a matter of getting there.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, there are many benefits to doing yoga, including but not limited to the following.

  • Increased flexibility

  • Increased muscle strength and tone

  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality

  • The maintenance of a balanced metabolism

  • Weight reduction

  • Cardio and circulatory health

  • Improved athletic performance

  • Protection from injury

  • All of this sounds amazing! I need to start doing some yoga!

    According to WebMD, “some yoga styles use meditation techniques that help calm the mind. Focusing on your breathing during yoga can do that”. This sounds right up Phil Jackson‘s alley, Jackson is known for his meditation sessions during tense times during his coaching career.

    It is good to hear players using different techniques to keep themselves in shape during the offseason, hopefully all of Early’s hard work pays off.