Tournaments… often times the culmination of hours and hours of intense practice and diligent training. Tournament days or weekends can involve multiple games over multiple days, and the key to success is PREPARATION. All that hard work will be for nothing if you don’t plan ahead; counting on the concession stands for fuel can be a scary proposition! So here are a few things to consider when playing tournaments:
- Get the Whole Team Involved- as a team, make a plan for your upcoming tournament. Eat meals together and divide the duties of feeding athletes amongst different parents. Consider getting together for a “Pre-tournament breakfast” before a long drive.
- Travel zaps energy- muscles get lazy and brains get foggy. Make sure your athlete is prepared for travel with enough food and drinks to last the entire trip. For shorter trips (under 2 hours), make sure to pack enough water and fruit and have athletes sip, sip sip. Stop after the first hour and have players run a lap and stretch. For longer trips, plan on having them eat a pre-game meal 2-4 hours before their first game.
- Stick with what’s familiar-tournaments and long days of play are NO time to experiment with foods; make sure your athlete is familiar with the foods he or she will be eating before, after and between games.
- Pack the sports bag- besides uniforms, cleats and balls, your athlete needs to think about other essentials of play. Have him or her pack plenty of water, 1-2 sandwiches, fruit and other snacks in his/her sports bag, and have enough containers, lunchboxes and ice packs for safe snacking!
- Snacks allowed!– tournaments are a time when snacks are not only allowed, they are encouraged! Especially during days of multiple games in the same day, it is best to have several nutritious snacks rather than plan on larger meals. Recovery snacks will be essential in rebuilding glycogen stores for the next game. Check out http://doctorjacq.com/game-dont-forget-snacks/ for post game snack ideas. If players have between 1-2 hours between games, think dried fruit and nuts, PB & banana sandwiches, smoothies, small wraps, energy bars, hummus and pita, cheese and crackers…you get the idea.
- When you’re away-as much as we know preparation is KEY, during a tournament teams will find themselves looking for places to eat, sometimes left with less than desirable choices. USE technology! Some of my favorites include healthydiningfinder.com and goodfoodnearyou. These websites will advise you on best options at local restaurants searched by zip code.
- Drink up- Remember to be prepared with not only food, but drinks! Check out http://doctorjacq.com/hydration-sports-much-keeping-kids-hydrated/ for guidelines on when and what to drink, including sports drinks, and have your child start drinking while traveling to the game!
- REST- R and R are really important during tournament play. Games for the day are over, now what? The body needs to work on rebuilding glycogen stores and repair sore muscles for the next day. Away games and tournaments are exciting times for players, and while it will be tempting to celebrate the accomplishments of the day, be aware that rest today will bring success tomorrow. Make sure players eat well, hydrate, tend to injuries, ice sore muscles and get plenty of sleep. Consider some “team yoga” before hitting the sack for the night, to ensure the team comes out stronger the next day!
- Be PREPARED! I say this again and again, because it is the “golden rule” for making the healthier choice the easier choice. Stay tuned for my next Blog, when we will get prepared and shop for tournament essentials together!