Stephen Curry is Using Float Tanks to Train His Mind For The NBA Playoffs

This weekend, the Golden State Warriors will begin their first-round NBA playoffs series against the Portland Trailblazers, and you can bet that Stephen Curry will be thinking about redemption, after last year becoming the first NBA team ever to lose the Finals after leading the series 3-1. But it won’t be panic or desperation that drives the reigning MVP. It’ll be determination and focus. How do I know this? The pod.

What is the pod that Steph Curry is using to train for the NBA playoffs? It looks like some Mork and Mindy science, sure, but it’s a vital part of Curry’s training regimen that doesn’t involve shooting hoops, dribbling skill or stamina. For healthcare company Kaiser Permanente’s new “Train the Mind” campaign, Curry opens up about how he mentally prepares for big games and the rigors of pro basketball in general. And part of that involves the pod, also known as a float tank or a sensory deprivation tank.

Created by agency Translation, the first ad in the campaign gives us a peek into how the sensory deprivation chamber helps Curry focus, calm his mind, and prepare for what’s to come. 

Translation’s chief creative officer is John Norman, an ad legend who’s work spans brands like Nike, Coke, HP, Adidas, and Gatorade, across agencies like Wieden+Kennedy, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and TBWA/Chiat/Day L.A. Norman says Kaiser Permanente asked how they could leverage their NBA sponsorship platform to talk about the mental game in sports.

“Our response was to use the sports insight–game performance is more than 80 percent mental preparation,” says Norman. “You’ve heard coaches say it all the time: ‘Get your mental game right,’ ‘Get your head in the game,’ ‘Focus!’ If you are mentally prepared for a sport, as in life, you can pretty much do anything.”

Not all athletes can pull off a confessional-type ad in convincing fashion, in a way that’s more real talk than hard sell. Norman says that’s because Curry is the real deal.

“Curry is one of the league’s top scorers, lives the preventative health lifestyle, and holds the same values as Kaiser. His use of deprivation tanks helped to make a storytelling device. The water then became a narrative, a noise for him to ‘Overcome’ and conquer.”

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