Football fans generally don’t worry about what NFL players do at halftime.
Some of the world’s greatest athletes rest, drink water, have a quick snack or get a workout in before the second half of a match begins.
But in the Super Bowl with an extended halftime break and sports fans around the world focusing on music superstars like Usher, Lady Gaga, U2 or Bruce Springsteen on stage?
Not only are halftime breaks longer than normal during the Super Bowl, but players can easily become distracted by the added delay or have their finely tuned bodies become a subject of injury.
While the average length of a Super Bowl halftime performance is 12 to 15 minutes, Rihanna’s show at Super Bowl LVII lasted almost 20 minutes.
Moving back and forth across the field has to be accounted for, and that means a lot of downtime for quarterbacks and wide receivers normally accustomed to fast-paced plays and constant action.
A Super Bowl’s full halftime break doubles a standard game break, giving NFL players and coaches an extended period of time to think alone, come together in groups, stretch, or make collective adjustments team.
Marching bands performed halftime shows at the start of the Super Bowl.
Today, some of the world’s biggest musical artists perform on sophisticated stages – and many viewers only watch the halftime show.
Some NFL teams began practicing for the Super Bowl by simulating an extended halftime break during the two weeks leading up to the game.
Part of this practice involves relaxing without training for an extended period of time, allowing players to take a mental break from the stress and energy of the game.
New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Paul McCartney led to the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty and The Who as NFL Super Bowl halftime performances grew bigger and bigger over time decades.
This led to more downtime and lingering questions about what exactly professional athletes are doing while Lady Gaga descends from the roof of a massive stadium.
Players stretch, watch videos, chat and prepare for the second half.
They’re also resting while millions watch one of the biggest shows on earth – one that doesn’t include football on the field for up to 30 minutes.