Several factors are considered when coaches or managers meet to devise training schedules. Some of the more important considerations pertain to issues like:
- Facility Availability: Sharing with other teams
- Athlete Availability: School/Class schedules
- Parent Availability: Youth athletes mode of transportation
- Coach Availability: Competing work schedules for non-full-time coaches
Without a doubt, these issues must be addressed and accommodated to ensure full attendance by athletes and coaches and access to the appropriate facilities whether they be training rooms or practice fields/courts. Another important consideration for coaches is the time of day that competition takes place. Athletes who train at night but compete in the morning may be at a disadvantage.
A recent review paper by Chtourou et al. (2014) published in the Journal of Athletic Enhancement provides some important insight regarding time of day training and its impact on performance. The existing research on the topic appears to overwhelmingly support afternoon training for superior strength, power and even endurance. Additionally, there is a superior hormonal environment in the afternoon (greater testosterone), better facilitating anabolic processes. Simply put, athletes are more like to perform better at practice or in workouts later in the day.
However, if competition times are held earlier in the day, it would be wise for training and practice times to be adjusted to similar times, if possible of course. It appears that habitual early training will improve performance for that time of day (morning). However, training in the evening does not necessarily lead to improvements in performance earlier in the day. In fact, it appears that evening training may lead to improvements in evening performance while actually reducing morning performance. However, this may be related to athlete motivation more so than physiological adaptation. Ultimately, athletes who are not accustomed to training or performing in the mornings will not meet there full performance potential at this time of day.
The author’s advise coaches and athletes to hold training in the mornings if competition is held in the mornings. If competition times vary or are unknown, the author’s recommend morning training as this has been shown to improve both morning and afternoon performances (but is not the case with evening training carrying over to morning performance).
Not all coaches and athletes will have the luxury of being able to train at the same time of day as competition times. However, if competing in the mornings, it may be worth the sacrifice of going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to fit in training sessions before school or work.
Chtourou, H., Hammouda, O., Souissi, N., & Chaouachi, A. (2014). Temporal Specificity of Training: An Update. J Athl Enhancement 3: 3. of, 4, 90-100.