Weather

You get to the field, raring to go, and suddenly the heavens open and you’re drenched in rain. Surely that’s going to affect your performance, right?

Most people would say that the ideal conditions for many sports are not too hot and not too cold, with a sky that’s clear but a sun that’s not overdoing it. If we could avoid rain, wind and fog that create visibility issues, make the ground slippery and cause an absolutely miserable atmosphere, that’d be great, too.

Of course, the chances of a perfect day for sports are pretty low. Most athletes need to get at least some practice training in adverse conditions. Being a professional means being able to adjust to glare, heat, humidity, driving winds and soaking rains. As in so many other aspects of life, preparation is essential.

Some of it depends where you’re based. Californians are more likely to need to deal with excess heat, with the dehydration and sweatiness that comes with it. If you’re in Alaska, an understanding of cold (which is, perhaps surprisingly, also a potential cause of dehydration), snow and ice may be more important. And your actual stadium/field/training ground is important, too. Heavy winds will be more of a worry in a big, open space with no shelter.

The impact of weather on performance can be so profound that it can affect your ability to break records. If you run the fastest race of all time in a sprint or jump further than anyone has before, then a big asterisk will appear if it was “wind-assisted.” That’s right; a favorable wind that helps carry you forward may give you an unfair advantage over those who competed on a still day. If the wind’s against you, however, your chances of a personal best are much, much smaller.

So, other than training in every type of weather, how do you prepare for changing conditions? Well, you need to check the weather forecast before you go out so you know what’s coming. You need appropriate clothing and equipment, plenty of water and sensible scheduling. A lot of it is going to come down to practice and experience, and making sure athletes, coaches and officials are all on the same page in taking any necessary safety precautions.

Sports performance improves or deteriorates based on the weather. You need to be ready for that.

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