• Recovery

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Recovery in sport is an important process that can help to maximize adaptation following training or sustain level of performance during competition. The main areas of focus are to replace lost fluids & nutrients, rest & recuperate both mentally and physically and allow the body to rebuild in response to training stresses. This can be summarized by what are known as the 4 “R’s”:

  • Refuel
  • Rehydrate
  • Rest
  • Repair

More detailed refuel and rehydrate information is covered in more detail in our nutrition and hydration sections.  Rest and repair are key areas often overlooked and can be successfully achieved through good planning and strategies with minimal cost.

The primary reason we sleep is for rest and repair.  This is a vital period of time for our bodies systems and cells.  With the average person sleeping between 4-9 hours a night there can be huge differences between person to person.  Research has shown that the average adult should aim to have at least 8 hours sleep a night and in high performing athletes this should be higher.  Those who don’t achieve these levels have been shown to have higher injury rates, lower performance levels and a variety of other issues.

Sleep patterns among professional golfers can be hugely variable due to time zone changes, jet lag, very early or very late tee times, media requirements and travel delays to name a few.  We know that sleep is a crucial factor in human physical performance but also in mental performance and mental health issues.

The recommended amount of sleep varies between people depending on age, sex and activity, but generally 8 hours a night is a guideline figure. It has been shown that sports people require more sleep than the general public and performance factors are increased with an extra hour of sleep a night on top of the average.

Sleep deprivation can have several effects on people and athletes/golfers performance including:

  • Hormone changes – reduced duration of sleep has been linked with increased levels of cortisol. This is also known as a stress hormone and has been linked with reduced healing, increased risk of injuries and reduced memory. It is also linked with reduced levels of the body’s natural growth hormone, which helps the body repair.
  • Reduced energy – sleep deprivation reduces your body’s ability to store glycogen. Although often seen as an energy source needed during endurance events, it is still a key component of the energy requirements in sports such as golf.
  • Reduced decision making and reflexes – evidence shows that sports people who don’t get enough sleep are worse at making split second decisions and are less accurate in their performance (these are also similar effects of dehydration which we will discuss in another piece)

Effective strategies to improve your amount of sleep and quality of sleep include:

Try to create a regular pattern of going to bed and waking up (rather than huge variations day to day)

  • Have black out blinds/curtains in the bedroom to ensure a dark environment
  • Avoid use of computers/gadgets/smart phones for at least 2 hours before going to bed (white light from screens can reduce melatonin levels – a hormone that allows you to fall asleep)
  • Avoid tea/coffee/caffeine in the evening before bed (as this can be a stimulant that keeps you awake.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol before bed. Alcohol can reduce the quality and time of sleep you have and often create the need to get up more to go to the toilet
  • Turn phone off at night or put on silent to avoid being woken by messages/calls

There are many other ways we can look to promote rest and recovery and this can be both from a physical and mental perspective.  This can be as diverse as using meditation to appropriate planning of training and play.