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How to prepare for a tournament Bonus blog: recovery

After writing the four part series on how to get ready for a multi day tournament, I realised that I forgot a key critical factor in a long event: recovering each night for the next day.  There’s some obvious things plus some little clever tricks I’ve learned along the way.

One of the most important things is to ensure you are taking enough fuel on: put simply, are you eating enough?. Many players snack their way through a match day so by the end of the day, there will be a major calorie deficit. It’s vital to ensure you have enough energy for future days. Wearing an Apple Watch, Fitbit, Android wearable or Whoop strap can give you a decent indication of your calorie burn or exertion from the day and using My Fitness Pal or another similar app can accurately measure what your deficit is if you track your food. Athlytic is an app for Apple iPhone/Watch that gives very similar metrics to a Whoop strap. 

Hydration is also key:  you may need to replenish key minerals so a pre load strategy is helpful. I’ve sung the praises of the range of products from Precision Hydration and part of their advice is to prepare before the event with an appropriate level based on your online sweat test. Remember the impact of alcohol and caffeine on sleep and performance. Enjoy the celebrations and party atmosphere but know your limits if peak performance is your goal. 

Sleep is the third big factor for recovery: can you get enough, is it quality sleep? What options do we have to maximise our chances of this considering you are likely to be in a hotel bed? One of the easiest things to do is bring your pillow from home: I’ve never had an issue with the pillows in a hotel room but family members of mine differ, really needing their own pillow to sleep well. Ear plugs, a fan, eye mask, aromatherapy oils: all of these can be part of your routine or might be needed as part of your packing. 

Outside of the basics, it’s always good to properly static stretch and cool down after any event, especially after the adrenaline has stopped flowing.  The resistance band, massage gun or roller you may have brought to warmup can help you prepare for the next day. You’ll need to spend possibly two or three times as long with a massage gun to recover as it does to warm up. A yoga mat left back at the hotel can also help you stretch out and prepare for the next day. I’m going to turn the bathroom sink into a mini ice bath so I can rehab my elbow: a bag of ice emptied in plus some cold water will do me fine.  

Make sure to replenish your supplies of all your nutrition and hydration products in your tournament bag, charge your devices and power bank. Hang out the towels, get the wet bag of clothes emptied and replenish any tablets, plasters etc. Ensure you have the next set of clothes ready to go. Air your shoes out, maybe sprinkle a little bicarbonate of soda in them to reduce smell and aid drying out or use some kind of freshener spray. 

As a follow up from the initial series, there’s some extra bits that have come to light. 

One thing that I left off the prep list was remembering to take headphones and create a playlist if that’s your thing to get ready to compete. I have used various songs for years to get me ready to perform in my various endeavours. Also if you have any pre planned strategy for events, having them in note form, written or electronic, can help you. A quick read and clarification of any areas, patterns or intentions will really help before a key match. Finally, a few ziplock or resealable bags are great to arrange your snacks, grips, rubbish and all the stuff that will float around the bag. Wrangle the chaos and bag it all up!

I really hope this series has been useful to players and I’d appreciate any feedback either on comments or via my email. Good luck in the Open to everyone, even those I’m competing against: I’ve not revealed all of my secrets on the blog yet.

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