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Tips for traveling long distances for your next game
Submitted by Elysia Tsai on June 16, 2014
When traveling across the county in new time zones, or continents, it is important to be well prepared for your trip. Arriving in a new place or country jet lagged, dehydrated, and hungry can have a negative impact on your soccer performance. That is why it is crucial to take the proper steps necessary so you can jump off the airplane and perform at your best. Here are some tips for your next away game or tourney.
One of the biggest hurdles I see with athletes is dealing with the time zone change, whether it’s an hour or 8 hour difference. Your body is used to a certain rhythm and if not properly accustomed to the time change, you can shock your system and disrupt your sleep pattern. It typically takes one day for every hour of time change for your body to adjust. That means if you fly from California to New York and there is a 3 hour time difference, it will take 3 days for you to feel normal, by that time your tournament might be over. You can go to www.timeanddate.com and see the exact time change for your location. Prepare for the time change ahead of time by giving yourself the same amount of days as hour changes. If you are traveling east, you will need to wake up earlier than you are normally used to. Each day go to bed an hour earlier than the night before and wake up an hour earlier. When I was preparing for Germany, for 8 days I kept pushing back my sleep time until I was eventually on Germany time before my trip. You may not have the luxury or schedule to sleep at 3pm, but try to adjust to the new time zone before your trip. If you are traveling west, you would do the opposite and go to bed an hour later each night and wake an hour later each morning. Once on the airplane set your watch to the time at your destination when you get on the plane. You’ll know when you are supposed to be sleeping and when you are to be awake. Below are some other methods you can use to help you can use when travelling on the road to your next tournament:
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while traveling since the dry air on airplanes can be very dehydrating. Bring an empty reusable water bottle with you. Examples include the stainless steel or hard plastic camping/hiking bottles.
- Once you get through security you can refill at the water cooler or purchase water. In some countries you are not allowed to carry liquids onto the airplane, so check before you get on. Drink often to maintain your hydration status and always have water available.
- While on the plane move around and keep your blood circulating. Rotate your ankles, get up and stretch or walk the isle. You can wear compression socks to help avoid the blood pooling in your legs and feeling heavy.
- Plan to eat every 3-4 hours during your travel from the moment you get into the car to your final hotel destination. You will need enough food/snack and also plan for the unexpected. Perhaps the airport food services is closed, the airplane food is not to your liking, you don’t have the correct money or you don’t have enough money.
- Carry snacks with you. Easy well balanced snacks include protein bars, jerky, trail mix, carrot sticks, apple and bananas. I usually take a backpack full of food and a 1 liter water bottle.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and rub your hands together for 20 seconds to lather the soap. Always wash your hands before eating or touching the banquet utensils. Always wash your hands after practice, games, shaking hands and using the bathroom. Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow sleeve. Always wash your hands afterward. Avoid rubbing your eyes with your hands or fingers. Clean under your nails and keep them trimmed. You may want to carry hand sanitizer with you.
- When you get to your destination get moving and avoid napping when you should be awake.
With proper pre-planning you can help yourself perform at your best.