Tournament time is very exciting for all pickleball players - after all, all of the work you put into your practice sessions leading up to a tournament is tested in match play! Although tournaments can bring excitement and energy to a
person playing, it can often bring unnecessary and preventable stress. I often get asked questions about how I prepare for my tournaments, and what routines make me successful and allow me to be stress-free during tournament days. As a result, here are a few tips I have to help you be successful and stress-free at your next tournament:
PREPARATION IS THE KEY!
1. Pack your bags early - make sure you pack your tournament bag the night before. This will give you a clear mind when you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning. That way you can focus on your play only and enjoy the experience even more.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate - I always hydrate and sometimes over-hydrate each day of the week leading up to a tournament. This prepares my body for competition and prevents dehydration and cramping when I play. I found this particularly useful in my preparation for the 2016 U.S. Open. Due to anticipated hot and humid conditions, my hydration (which started 2-3 weeks before the event), prevented me from getting overheated and cramping during the week. As a result, I felt more fit during the week, and was able to focus solely on fun competition.
3. Eat nutritious foods - in the days leading up to the tournament, the night before each event you play in, and of course throughout each day of competition. I always like to pack various fruits (bananas, oranges, apples) along with protein bars and nuts. It is often difficult to eat a full meal while competing as you never know when your next match is going to be called. Ultimately, you want to make sure you eat in between each match - and most importantly, put the right foods into your body that will not only give you energy, but the energy you need to compete at the highest level possible.
4. Bring extra clothing - I can speak for most pickleball players when I say that no one loves playing in a medal match at the end of the day drenched in sweaty clothing! To combat this, make sure you pack extra shirts, socks, and shorts to change into during a day's play. I will change my shirt after every match I play in a tournament, which keeps me feeling fresh, and I often change socks halfway through each day of competition I play in. Ultimately being prepared is the most essential component of having extra clothing, and there's no fault in packing more clothing than you anticipate wearing as that extra shirt or pair of socks may come in handy at the end of a long day of great pickleball!
Being prepared in these areas will ensure that you have a fun and stress-free time at your next pickleball tournament. Happy pickling!