With approximately 99 percent of the electrical energy supplied to the NIF appearing as heat in the amplifiers, thermal recovery of the NIF system is a major consideration in the design process. The NIF shot rate is one shot every 8 hours, with a goal of 4 hours between shots. This necessitates that thermal recovery take place in no more than 7 hours, with a goal of 3 hours for the accelerated shot rate. Residual optical distortions, which restrict the shot rate, are grouped into two discrete categories: (1) distortions associated with residual temperature gradients in the laser slabs, and (2) distortions associated with buoyantly driven convective currents in the amplifier cavity and beam-tube regions. Thermal recovery of the amplifiers is achieved by cooling the flashlamps and blastshields with a heat deposited in the slabs and edge claddings. Advanced concepts, such as the use of slightly chilled gas to accelerate some aspects of recovery, are addressed. To quantify recovery rates of the amplifiers, experiments and numerical models are used to measure and calculate the temperatures and optical distortions in NIF-like amplifier elements. The calculation results are benchmarked against AMPLAB temperature measurements, thus allowing a quantitative prediction of NIF thermal recovery. These results indicate that the NIF requirement of 7 hour thermal recovery can be achieved with chilled temperature cooling gas. It is further shown that residual temperature gradient driven distortions in the slabs reach an acceptable level, after 4 hours of thermal recovery.