Sports have always been a major part of my life.
I started playing soccer at 5 years old. By the time I was 9 years old, I joined my first competitive travel team. By 11 years old, my parents and I were driving 2.5 hours (both ways) 2, 3, and sometimes even 4 days a week just to get to practice. Not to mention traveling even further distances on the weekends. Having done the math, I was staying the night in a hotel on the weekends more than was I was in my own bed for the six years leading up to college.
Being on the road so frequently required lots of planning ahead. Each trip having to make sure to pack the right gear, extra clothes, food and drinks, sleeping supplies, homework, etc... I attained the ability to be able to eat just about anything and sleep and study just about anywhere.
Hotels became nearly my second home. Looking back, I laugh at some of the silly/creative tricks that we had in order to properly recover while we stayed in any given hotel. We would stretch in the hallways, use the garbages as ice bins to fill up the bath tubs (which took about 10 trips back and fourth), we would stacking pillows to elevate our legs, desks as training tables, air vents as cleat dryers, hotel lotion to freshen our jerseys… the list could go on and on! At the time, my teamates and I didn't know anything different. Staying in hotels at that age was very fun and social. Seemingly like a big sleepover with all of your best friends.
But when I reached the collegiate level, (for others semi-pro, and especially the pro level) it felt less like a sleepover and more like a business trip. It’s a balancing act of stress, fatigue, preparation, pressure, and recovery. I began to realize that I never felt or played my best on the road. It wasn't because I didn't have the support of the crowd. Instead it was attributed factors such as: An off eating and sleeping schedule, dehydration, less emphasis on recovery and overall just a lack of comfort and consistency that my own home provided.
These factors seem rather minor in the whole scheme of things. However, if you take my situation and imagine it 30 times over, those little things begin to add up and end up effecting the entire performance of a team.
This got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice if the hotel that could help alleviate some of these points of friction? A way of creating more consistency from stay to stay, and simply just improving the little things such as sleep, hydration, relaxation, recovery, fueling, and mental preparation.