In your athletic journey, you’ll definitely have to travel to another city or a country to compete. Sometimes all that stress that comes with it can be a lot to handle.
All these long bus trips or layovers can have an effect on your performance and not in a good way.
During trips or layovers, you can easily start overthinking everything in your head and you won’t be as focused as you should anymore. An athlete and a coach prepare differently for a traveling.
We’re going to look from both athlete and coach point of view.
Let’s dive in!
Henri Treial is a volleyball player, who’s played in the Estonian national volleyball team and has played club volleyball in Europe.
Henri has traveled a lot in his career and was more than happy to share his experience.
In this small interview, I gave him 3 subjects and asked about his personal experience:
If I’m being honest, I haven’t had much stress during traveling. It’s always fun going to new places to compete. For me, I try to think positively all the time. Finding positive things in everyday life keeps my stress level as low as possible.
If you let some things get into your head then you’ll start to overthink everything. All of this can open up an opportunity for “bad thoughts” to take over and seriously affect your performance.
But at the end of the day, it’s up to every athlete to try to reset your mind and keep yourself steady.
As I said earlier, this kind of stress doesn’t happen one the way to the competition. Sometimes it happens when we’re coming back from it.
I don’t think it’s necessarily stressed. I just think it’s the exhaustion that kicks in after the game.
When traveling to a country with a different time-zone it’s never the same because your body doesn’t always react the same way to that.
For example. If I will try to prepare myself for the time difference, then it’s not guaranteed that this will work for me every time.
For us, volleyball players, we’ve also been doing some things to make it work. Meaning, before traveling for a couple of days, sometimes we change our practice time to match the time difference in the country we’re playing at.
Also when we arrive at the destination, we have practices later or sooner. It depends on the time of our match. This is all to avoid being overly tired at the game.
For me, bus trips and flights are almost the same. I always try to use different things to keep my body under control and not to hurt any of my muscles.
For example, every time we go traveling I use long compression socks to keep the blood circulating in my legs. Not to mention standing up or moving around helps your body as well so you don’t get muscle cramps.
On the bus rides, I’ve used “Normatec boots” – which help to compress and decompress your muscles so that you’ll have normal blood flow in your legs.”
I’ve spoken to different coaches and none of their methods match. As I mentioned before the location of your competition and you make the difference.
Coaches, who prepare their athletes for big championships often change their training plan just to match the time-zone.
Also, they will always go to the destination a few days earlier, to get rid of the jet lag before the competition.
When it comes to training, a lot of coaches have a workout planned for the morning of the flight (if the flight is in the evening/at night).
Also when it comes to flying, you as a coach, are responsible for your athletes. Meaning you need to know how they can handle airplane food or something like that. It’s also your responsibility to check up on them and approach everyone differently.
It’s easy when your athletes do individual events, everyone will have their own training plan and it’s all good. It gets a little tricky if you have a volleyball or a basketball team for example.
Because everyone is built differently, some players can do an intense workout after their flight, and others need to lay low for a day.
A lot of coaches have these training periods, they usually last for about 3 weeks but they can last for a week as well.
These kinds of plans are specially made to help an athlete cope with all that extra stress that might come with traveling.
For example a beach volleyball, they prepare for a competition by training for 4 days in a row and then 1 day off, because that’s how long their tournament lasts usually (4 days).
The best thing to take with you as an athlete or a coach is to approach everything and everyone differently. None of us are built the same way and nor will we cope the same way.
As a young athlete definitely pay attention to what the older ones are doing and find a way that works for you as well.
Being a coach is difficult, but it’s definitely a good idea to have some sort of training plan and everything divided into cycles.