Travelling on a Plane is a normal part of life for senior and elite basketball teams. Basketball as a sport is one of the largest and most popular sports around the globe. Rivalled only by sports such as football (soccer) and few others as the most played sport in the world. With this popularity comes a wide range of challenges and experiences for coaches that will test not only their ability to prepare teams, but also management and organise them off the court. Any coach involved in travelling basketball teams will state how important it is to get things right.
Travelling on a plane does not need to be a challenging activity if planned well. What is important though is making sure that not only you understand the importance, but also your players comprehend the relevance of this activity to their performance. A player, who does not respect the challenges of travelling on a plane, is a player who will be affected by poor decisions and preparation.
It is not stupid or obsessive to assume that when travelling on a plane with a group of ten players plus staff that at least one person will be affected by delayed or lost luggage.
There are a number of different items to look to pack when travelling on a plane. These include:
Carry-on Luggage; most commercial airlines accept carry-on luggage without penalty to some extent. If you are flying by a carrier that charges for carry-on luggage then it is well worth the investment to pay for this option for your team to select and keep with them some key items. This needs to be checked and re-checked prior to the day of travelling on a plane. Doing this at the counter of the check-in will only cause frustration and anxiety for the staff and players of a team.
Shoes; once the carry-on luggage situation has been confirmed the most valuable item each player should pack into this bag should be their playing shoes. Playing shoes for most players have a very special place in their mentality about how they can or are going to play. For this reason they need to stay with each and every player so they are never lost as they are near to impossible to replace. Spare pairs of shoes can always be checked into the bags to go under the plane in the cargo area but the favourite pair of shoes should always remain with the player.
Shoes and Socks go together like hand and glove. Players should keep clean playing socks stuffed into their shoes to help maximise use of space and keep their footwear kit together.
Tape/Braces; Many players will utilise items such as tape or braces to limit weaknesses or compensate for an injury. These should be packed into the carry-on luggage when travelling on a plane. Braces can be hard to replace (if not impossible) so they must be afforded the right type of care to ensure a players has the confidence to play at their best.
Water; all athletes will need to keep hydrated. When travelling on a plane in a pressurised environment and for extended periods of time the ability to freely access fluids might be compromised. Each and every player should have a litre bottle of water to take onto the plane. Note that some airlines do not allow opened fluid bottle when checking in to be taken onto the plane. Make sure these bottles are unopened.
Money; as a safe guard players should always carry a little spending money for the flight. This increases with the length of the flight. Remember some airlines do not offer a free meal service as part of the ticket price so any and all snacks will need to be purchased in these situations.
As the coach of the team you must be prepared for players forgetting money, losing money or even just not brining any. It is suggested you carry some extra funds to compensate for this scenario. This does not mean as a coach you become a merchant bank, but be aware of those individuals in your group who maybe cannot afford the luxuries of others and be empathetic to these issues.
Change of Clothes; Players should always bring a change of clothes so if luggage is lost or delayed they are inconvenienced by this issue. Packing additional items such as a jumper when travelling to a cooler environment is also advised to prevent against any foreseeable issues.
If working with junior elite teams or senior elite teams it is the coach’s responsibility to ensure everyone enters the plane in the best possible position to then have a positive outcome when flying. Travelling on a plane for some players can be a very irritating issue. Remember some players (children, adolescents and adults alike) suffer from nerves in regards to flying. Take the time to find out how each player feels about flying and what you can do to assist them.