By Chris Finn, MSPT, CSCS, TPIMP – Par4Success Golf Performance

Competitive junior golfers in my facility often play 20-plus tournaments a year and many of them require trips of three or more hours via car and/or plane. Players leave Friday after school, arrive at a hotel late that night and then tee off early Saturday morning. After competing all weekend, they arrive home late Sunday and start back at school on Monday before repeating it all the next Friday. Does this travel and sleep disturbance impact their performance? If so, is it cumulative over the course of the season? What strategies can mitigate performance decreases due to travel and sleep disturbances? These are important questions that need to be answered.

Research shows that travel alone is not the sole determining factor in decreased athletic performance. Reduced sleep and increases in sleep pattern disturbances, like one might experience while sleeping in a car, have been clearly shown to negatively impact performance, however. With that in mind, researchers wanted to see if increased sleep would elevate performance in collegiate basketball players. They increased sleep by approximately two hours each night for five weeks. This led to a 9% improvement in free throw and 3-point shooting percentages and an accelerated sprint speed time of almost a second! By increasing their sleep to 10 hours per night, they were able to improve their performance.

Other research studies also have shown that the closer you sleep to 10 hours per night, the more that performance rises. Constant travel, weekend after weekend, with no chance for recovery in between, will often bring on travel fatigue. This can display itself as persistent fatigue, repeated illness, changes in mood and behavior and loss of motivation. Travel fatigue is cumulative over the course of the season, while jet lag appears to be more episodic. So whatever the reason, if your body tells you that you need to skip a week and take some time to recover, listen to it and do just that. In short, make sure you are resting and sleeping the proper amount of hours, and you will instantly improve your chances of shooting red numbers. If you sleep more, you should play better, swing faster and hurt less!

Chris Finn, owner of Par4Success Golf Performance, is a licensed Physical Therapist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He works with touring professionals, elite level juniors and amateurs, as well as weekend warriors