Time Change Issues – Youth Athlete Travel
A time change is only one of several factors that affect travelling athletes. As youth athletes get older, the level of competition ramps up and they begin traveling outside their own home towns, regions and even across states, provinces and into other countries to test themselves against the “best of the rest.” While these trips can be both exciting and educational for youth athletes, they also must be closely monitored by parents and coaches. Even more so than adults, children are creatures of habit, and when those habits are thrown out of wack by travel, key components of the athletes’ routines can be compromised, leading to all sorts of negatives including poor sports nutrition, lack of proper rest, mental fatigue, poor performance and resulting psychological / emotional stress from any of the above.
A time change while your family vacations across state, province and even international lines are more and more popular these days, plenty of youth athletes still are inexperienced when it comes to traveling long distances. When youth athletes reach levels of competition that require traveling to other parts of their native region or country, they will encounter something that is often unexpected to them – a change in time zones. Traveling from one time zone to another causes a time change and is a common occurrence for adults, many of whom travel for work. Even after years and years of doing so, many adults still struggle to acquaint their bodies and minds with a new environment when the clock in the hotel reads 8 o’clock in the morning, but their mental clock keeps telling them that it’s really only six.
Youth athletes are almost universally creatures of habit. They prepare for competition in the same way as often as possible, sticking to routines in order to give themselves the very best opportunity to be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to excel in competition. Nothing can affect this more than time change, particularly because a youth athlete will find him or herself with a lengthy travel time involved as well. Traveling great distances affects people in ways they sometimes aren’t prepared for. Being largely confined in a vehicle for several hours without respite can make some youth athletes particularly hyper, others particularly sluggish. Traveling through a time change implies that an overnight stay is involved. The very best thing a coach or parent can do for a youth athlete in a situation like this is get the individual or team to the destination city as far in advance of the competition as possible to allow the children time to adjust.
Almost as important is to keep the athletes on the same schedule they would maintain at home before a competition or game. If a team meets for breakfast at 7 a.m. every week in advance of a 1 p.m. start time, that tradition needs to be maintained even with a time change. Even if it means a bit more rubbing sleep out of the eyes because everyone’s body believes it is really 6 in the morning. Of course, this rule cannot be hard and fast, exceptions must be allowed for. If a team has a flight delayed and doesn’t get to its destination city until 4 a.m. which includes a time change factor, no one can reasonably expect them to be downstairs for breakfast at 7 a.m. In instances like this, coaches and parents must use their best judgment and play it by ear, emphasizing adequate rest, hydration and nutrition for each youth athlete in advance of the start of competition.
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Jacques Delorme has coached for more than 25 years at all age levels and is a certified coach in five sports with a strong background in nutrition. He is the founder of this site. Would you like to be a GUEST AUTHOR? Let me know using the CONTACT FORM. Trying to gain muscle but do not want to gain fat in the process? Here is how I do it! – Click Here