How Jet Lag Affects Athletic Performance

With baseball season fast approaching, it is important to remember what our favorite athletes go through to put smiles on the fans faces. Baseball season can be a long and grueling season, potentially stretching across 8 months and over 180 games. While most fans only think about injuries that happen on the field, like muscle strains and broken bones, we rarely think about the root causes behind those injuries. For example, jet lag occurs when traveling across time zones which throws off the bodies circadian clock, or inner clock. Jet lag can lead to fatigue and sleep deprivation, which can then lead to soft tissue muscle injuries.

So how exactly does jet lag affect baseball players? It has different effects  for different position groups. Baseball fans know that pitching is requires very fine motor skills, and very fine mental focus; just one little thing can throw it off. Having jet lag can effect the fine motor skills that makes pitching such a fine art.

Position players have the same causes, but different effects. The study in Science Mag shows that when traveling across time zones, errors in the field have gone up, and baserunning takes a toll as well. Players are not as sharp in the field, leading to more mistakes. Players are also tired, therefore less motivated to take the extra base when it is possible.

Jet leg can be the underlying cause to multiple injuries in baseball and can be a leading factor in putting a bad product on the field. So how can the MLB combat jet lag? It is not as simple as you might think. There is not one magic solution. Doctors suggest that players drink more water, watch what they eat, and avoid drinking alcohol while on the airplane.


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