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Thread: Travel burden

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    Travel burden

    Western Force researcher shows the travel burden across time zones for WA sporting teams is real

    The travel discrepancy in Australian sport has been an accepted inequality for a long time.

    Think back to 1996 and 1999 when West Coast was forced to play "home" semi-finals at the MCG, against Essendon and Carlton.

    Or when Geelong had to trudge 74 kilometres to Melbourne to host Collingwood at the MCG in a qualifying final, after finishing as minor premiers.

    Or how Collingwood ó not to pick on the Magpies specifically ó will leave Victoria just once between now and the AFL finals, while fellow finals hopeful Fremantle will play in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

    A fair amount of this can be attributed to the heavy weighting of teams in Victoria, which will always see Melbourne sides' play away games in their home city.

    But this season has seen something of shift in attitude to the unevenness of the competition's structure.

    Dockers chief executive Simon Garlick and West Coast counterpart Don Pyke met with AFL boss Andrew Dillon ahead of the 2024 season, with travel a key part of the agenda.

    "The greatest inequity that exists in our game is the discrepancy in travel and particularly that of West Coast and ourselves," Garlick told ABC Perth in March.

    "Itís no oneís fault, itís just the way the competition has evolved.

    "Thereís 14 teams on the east coast and thereís two teams 3000km away on the west coast of Western Australia."

    His thoughts have been echoed by Dockers coach Justin Longmuir, and Gold Coast's Damian Hardwick.

    The three-time Richmond Premiership coach acknowledged the toll travel had on his players last month, just 11 games into his tenure in Queensland.

    In contrast, former St Kilda player and ABC expert Nathan Burke said sides who travel get the benefits when at home.

    "I get a bit sick of our interstate teams whingeing about how much they travel," he said.

    "Virtually every second week, you're playing a team who travel, who are less experienced at travelling than what you are.

    "If I'm West Coast Eagles, every second week I'm playing a team from the other side of the country.

    "So what you lose by travelling over here (Melbourne), you actually gain a bit back by playing a travelling team every single week.

    "No one ever mentions that."

    Earlier in the season, there were reports some clubs felt the granting of 12 business class seats on all flights to and from the eastern states helped nullify any travel disadvantage the WA clubs had.

    Research suggests travel a factor

    West Coast and Fremantle aren't the only professional sport teams in Western Australia ó the Perth Wildcats, Perth Lynx, West Coast Fever, Perth Glory, Western Force, WA Cricket and Perth Heat also contend with interstate trips.

    The Force travel the furthest in any one go, playing Super Rugby matches in New Zealand.

    The organisation has a researcher, Kanon Uchiama from the University of Western Australia, embedded in its program to study some of the impacts.

    "When you look out into what's out there, in terms of the knowledge so far, the main thing that travel always seems to come back to is sleep," she told ABC Perth's Extra Time program.

    "There are a lot of factors that come about with travel that disrupts the sleep of a team, and when a team doesn't sleep properly, that's when you start to see a myriad of issues start to appear, not just from a performance perspective, but also a recovery perspective."

    Force players wore sleep tracking watches, and performed cognitive and physical tests while travelling, in an attempt to understand how a change in sleep was affecting their ability to perform.

    "We were able to use one of those new sleep technologies to uncover some information around the stages of sleep, and one of the things we found is your REM sleep ó really important around the mood and the psyche ó that's kind of affected post travel," she said.

    "We're starting to get some insight on how these stages of sleep change across a week of Super Rugby, and how certain factors like travel, or even just playing a game, might affect these certain sleep stages."

    Length and direction matter

    Uchiama said Western Australian sides were more disadvantaged by travel, due to the need to head east to matches.

    "One that doesn't get talked about often is direction. It's known to be harder to travel to the east coast than travelling west," she said.

    "It's harder to travel and adapt to a time zone shift that goes forward instead of just going backwards. It's harder for us to fall asleep at night, and in the morning it's hard to get up."

    Uchiama said other factors can contribute to lessened performance on the road, including changed routines and different training facilities.

    "Things like your million-dollar training and recovery facilities and your access to all your staff and your support network and nutrition, hydration, sleep routines that you might have at home, when you're on the road, or when you go away on tour, it's just that little bit harder to access," she said.

    The debate on a more balanced sporting landscape will rage on ó sides on the east coast are unlikely to go quietly when a perceived competitive advantage is being threatened, while teams seeking a fairer fixture will continue beating the drums until something changes.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-06-...iama/103972926

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    Player Kernow's Avatar
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    Now it's quantified, I guess they can start working on strategies to manage it. I wonder if things like switching time zones a few days before you leave would have any benefit?

    Does anyone know if Melatonin is on the banned substance list - I'm staring at the back of my eyelids in minutes with that stuff (beer also works).

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kernow View Post
    Now it's quantified, I guess they can start working on strategies to manage it. I wonder if things like switching time zones a few days before you leave would have any benefit?

    Does anyone know if Melatonin is on the banned substance list - I'm staring at the back of my eyelids in minutes with that stuff (beer also works).
    Don't know if it's banned. Doesn't seem a likely performance enhancer along the lines of growth hormone or testosterone especially when you consider it's purpose. 6 years into retirement & after a lifetime of shift work I still have sleep issues. Been trying 2mg melatonin for a few weeks now with no improvement for a couple of weeks. But it seems to be working better now - touch wood. Pretty mild effect so far.

    As an aside; I read recently that Scott Pendlebury had just racked up 300 games - in Melbourne out of a total of about 380. And that doesnt include Geelong ( or tests & Origins ). That goes to show the imbalance that can come from travel - and a soft run for favored club.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    What are you on about?

    Collingwood had to travel to Etihad Stadium today vs North.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    What are you on about?

    Collingwood had to travel to Etihad Stadium today vs North.
    Really?? Sorry, my bad.

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    I think there is a lost opportunity here.

    Perth teams, collectively travel more to participate in their regular seasonal competitions then any other teams on the planet.
    And in the years to come world wide competition will quite possibly become the norm.

    So why doesn't the University of Western Australia (a Force Sponsor) study the travel habbits of the Force, Eagles, Dockers, WildCats, Scorchers, Heat (you get the idea). By studying all of the teams as well as the womens teams they will be able to gather data for all body types.

    I would imagine the travel requirements for a 2 metre plus basketball Centre or AFL Ruckman or Rugby 2nd Rower are different to a Prop or a 5ft nothing opening batsman or a Ruck Rover.

    The point is if the Studies done by UWA establish protocols that suggest that the day before the traveling team prepares by doing X, Y and Z. During the Flight all the Players wear sleep masks and Noise-Cancelling headphones and then, on arrival, the team goes for a 1500metre walk followed by a banana smoothie. But above all else - the flight must be no more that 30 hours and no less then 19 hours before the match starts.

    Or something like that.

    Once the protocols are established they could be sold/shared/gifted to sporting teams and competitions around the world. Or we dont tell anyone and become travelling team experts and beat everyone away from home.




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    Im sorry - this post is all over the place. I am out of practice. My brain just isnt up to it. Please forgive me.

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    What are you on about?

    Collingwood had to travel to Etihad Stadium today vs North.
    And you can see how badly that travel affected the mighty pies, the roos almost got us

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    Quote Originally Posted by .X. View Post
    I think there is a lost opportunity here.

    Perth teams, collectively travel more to participate in their regular seasonal competitions then any other teams on the planet.
    And in the years to come world wide competition will quite possibly become the norm.

    So why doesn't the University of Western Australia (a Force Sponsor) study the travel habbits of the Force, Eagles, Dockers, WildCats, Scorchers, Heat (you get the idea). By studying all of the teams as well as the womens teams they will be able to gather data for all body types.

    I would imagine the travel requirements for a 2 metre plus basketball Centre or AFL Ruckman or Rugby 2nd Rower are different to a Prop or a 5ft nothing opening batsman or a Ruck Rover.

    The point is if the Studies done by UWA establish protocols that suggest that the day before the traveling team prepares by doing X, Y and Z. During the Flight all the Players wear sleep masks and Noise-Cancelling headphones and then, on arrival, the team goes for a 1500metre walk followed by a banana smoothie. But above all else - the flight must be no more that 30 hours and no less then 19 hours before the match starts.

    Or something like that.

    Once the protocols are established they could be sold/shared/gifted to sporting teams and competitions around the world. Or we dont tell anyone and become travelling team experts and beat everyone away from home.




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    Im sorry - this post is all over the place. I am out of practice. My brain just isnt up to it. Please forgive me.
    It certainly should be treated as a massive "Home Ground Advantage" at least.
    If we can master the art of the return home flight then there is a commercial reality around that IP.

    The extensive travel I did previously, I found the best way was to just adopt local time as you stepped off the plane, however, fully accept I wasn't travelling as an elite athlete needing to perform soon after.

    I would think it to be one of two strategies.
    1. The Smash and Grab- an aerobic session then fly across that morning early and straight into match day. It would seem American teams do this a bit (or am I quoting movies...?)
    2. The Slow Burn- a really hard training session, onto flight and at least two nights at the destination
    I imagine anything in between is where the problems come from.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Crono said at one point that they've been staying on local time this year.

    It would be interesting to read the review on that.

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