How you prepare for a roundnet tournament in the days and weeks prior can have a huge effect on your performance. Preparing yourself multiple days ahead of time in terms of nutrition, hydration and proper rest are crucial to playing your best on tournament day. No matter how many cut serves or tweeners you practice before the tournament all of that will be for not if you are unable to play your best due to dehydration, improper fueling and re-fueling, possible cramping and even serious injury. Take care of your body, YOU deserve it!
Water recommendations: A good rule of thumb for athletes is to divide their body weight in half-1x body weight and drink at least an ounce per pound of body weight throughout a typical day (e.g., someone weighing 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water a day).
Sweat rate per individual may vary so check the color of your urine leading up to the tournament! Clear and copious is a great little rhyme to help with being aware of your hydration.
I like to add pink himalayan salt to my food and sometimes I’ll pour a nickel sized amount in my hand, and drink that with a cup of water. High quality salt, such as himalayan pink salt, which also contains other minerals will help prevent cramps and keep you playing at your best!
Food recommendations: It is all about familiarity and confidence that what you eat will not hinder your performance and will hopefully help it! Try to fill your ‘plate’ with high quality carbs, proteins and healthy fats. Familiarity is crucial! Choose foods that you have eaten before without any adverse side effects, sluggishness, stomach aches, heart burn, etc.
I’m not big on “counting” macros but just being aware of choosing quality foods that will help and not hinder your performance, and being aware of how you feel!
Have a “rehearsal” dinner the night before a training day. Plan breakfast, bring snacks, and see how it makes you feel. Experiment with different foods, think about what you can take on the road with you that isn’t perishable, are you flying? Are you driving? Will you have refridgeration?
I try to fill each meal with high quality carbs, fats and proteins. Think of your ‘plate’ - About 40-50% carbs, 20-40% protein, 10-20% high quality fat. Examples: Carbs: sweet potato, potato, whole grain bread, oatmeal, some fruit but in my opinion not all carbs should come from fruit. Proteins: high quality proteins free of preservatives and unnecssary sodium or addes sugar, preservative free chicken, grass fed beef, eggs, almonds, fish. Fats: there is fat in most proteins that I am listing, so some will come from there but look for cooking your foods in high quality oils such as avocado oil. Some cooking oils such as canola or even olive oil can cause inflammation in the body and that may affect your performance negatively! Adding in fats from healthy nuts such as walnuts and almonds are great choices as well. Try to stay away from preservatives, non-natural items, unnatural sugar, added sugar, etc. It is hard to completely avoid these items, but there are ‘better’ choices you can make by reading nutrtion/ingredient labels and being aware of how different foods make you feel.
Example meal I use before and after exercise: Eggs and sweet potato cooked in avocado oil, seasoned with himalayan pink salt, whole grain bread with grass fed butter and a cup of fruit. Bananas give me heartburn, so I avoid them before and during tournaments. I know this because of ‘rehearsal’ meal! If you aren’t able to cook your own meal try and do your best to pack foods and research restaurants around that area. If you are in the area the night before think about ordering another meal that the restaurant to use for the next day. Thinking and planning ahead are crucial to success!
Bring items that you can use as a backup in case food is hard to come by in the area you are traveling for the tournament. I love RX bars, Epic Bars, trail mix, nut butter packets, dried fruit, nuts, etc. because they are portable, non-perishable, made with mostly natural ingredients and no preservatives/fake ingredients. Items that I can bring with me and know I can store in my bag in case I do not have access to healthy foods.
I’ll write it again: Have a “rehearsal” dinner the night before a training day, breakfast, bring snacks, and see how it makes you feel.
Morning of tourney: SIMPLE, CLEAN, HEALTHY. water, himalayan pink salt, eggs, oatmeal/potatoes/toast/fruit, grass fed butter, avocado oil, oatmeal/potatoes. If I do not have access to cooking materials needed I do research and try to find the healthiest restaurant I can in the area (think local juice bar, not a Mickey D’s). Look for things like breakfast bagels with eggs and veggies, oatmeal with nuts and berries, even add a healthy smoothie to get some more fuel on top of your solid food. And if they have things you like to eat, think about buying extra for breakfast and lunch to use at the tournament. Or even bringing packets of oatmeal and getting some boiling water and a couple of portable nut butter packets to use for fat and protein.
During tourney: It’s all about figuring out what works for you. A good mix of healthy CLEAN carbs, protein and fat is crucial at lunch along with remaining hydrated, and adding some salt back into your system as tourney day goes along. Trying to find a balance of not being so full where you feel sluggish, but also have enough fuel to take you deep in bracket play- even if it’s the consolation bracket :) I like to bring a few RX bars or Epic bars, nut butter packets, trail mix, water, himalayan salt when I’m traveling away from home for a tournament but if I have a hotel room close enough I will cook some scrambled eggs in avocado oil and whole grain rye toast with grass fed butter during the lunch breaks. That is what works for me, something different may work for you. Think about taste, digestion, lack of stomach trouble, etc. I personally have a big issue with heart burn and certain foods that trigger that and have been very hampered by it in the past during roundnet tournaments. Don’t let that happen on tournament day, test things out and have a solid plan and some back ups when planning for your tournament travel.
After tourney: rehydrate, replenish, sleep, check your weight pre and post tourney for dehydration. Be aware of your weight before tournament day and then try and weigh yourself after the tourney to see how much weight you may have lost. 1lb lost is equal to about .5L of water needed to replenish yourself. If one weighed 150 lbs before the tournament and 146 after, that would be a 4lb weight loss and you would want to try and drink at least 2 liters of water to properly rehydrate and refuel yourself. Try and get back to your regular weight by drinking water and refueling yourself with high quality carbs, proteins and fats.
Sleep: Sleep is crucial in the days leading up to a tournament for playing purposes and if you are driving a long way you don’t want to risk falling asleep at the wheel. After the tournament it is crucial that your recover, and sleep is necessary! ( injured athletes and sleep chart).
An article from Tuck.com titled, “How Sleep Works” states a few important studies conducted on athletes regarding sleep. “Lack of sleep lengthens an athlete’s immediate recovery time, but has detrimental long-term effects as well. In fact, if sleep issues are not addressed, they have the power to cut an athlete’s career short. In 2013, a study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine followed 80 Major League Baseball players over a period of three seasons. Their sleeping habits were recorded
before the start of the 2010 season and ranked according to the Epworth sleepiness scale. Players who scored high for sleepiness were less than 40 percent likely to still be playing three seasons later, as compared with 72 percent of players who scored low on sleepiness.”
“Tennis: When women’s tennis players increased their nightly sleep to 10 hours, they also experienced improved sprint times by 1.5 seconds as well as their serve accuracy by 23.8 percent.”
“A 2014 study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that adolescents who played a game following a night of fewer than 8 hours of sleep were nearly twice as likely to get injured as those who got 8 hours of sleep.” (Tuck.com, How Sleep Works)
Major Takeaway: Try and stay hydrated and eat healthy ALL the time but the more you can practice these strategies the better prepared you will be for the tournament. Prepare and be aware! Know what foods work and don’t work for YOU and plan accordingly. Just getting hydrated and fueled properly the night before the tournament will not pay as many dividends as when you practice these hydration and fueling strategies multiple days before the tournament.
This blog post was contributed by Tom Witt.