Are you ready for your tournament?
We all know how hard it is to prepare for a tournament, and usually the extra hours that go into pre-tournament preparation result in broken strings. The last thing you want is to break a string during a match and find out that all your other racquet strings are broken as well. Trust me. I’ve been there and then borrowed my opponent’s racquet. It was not fun. Make sure your racquets are strung before your match. Usually tournaments have on site stringers and strings available whenever you need them.
Of course, this is pretty obvious, but that doesn’t take away from its importance. Prepare your liquids before the match. Even though water may be provided (note: I say ‘may’ because I know some national level tournaments where it wasn’t) and is easily bought, depending on the weather you might want to add electrolytes or bring an ice box/cooler on court. Liquids are very important in hot and humid climates.
Whether it’s to ward off the munchies that accompany pre-match nervousness, or a single bite taken between change overs, packing a snack to the tournament venue is always a good idea. For on court situations bananas, energy bars, and trail mix are always good ideas. For pre-match munchies go for something light.
Only after playing in the extremely humid and scorching summers of Asia did I learn how important a towel was. Growing up playing in the Northern U.S and indoor courts, the importance of a towel never fully hits you until you’re playing in the musky humidity of an Asian summer with your clothes drenched and your racquet constantly slipping from your grip. Heaving sweat drop into your eyes or having your racquet slip is extremely annoying, especially during an important point. A towel can help you with these distractions.
Just like a towel, a new grip wards off sweat related mishaps and gives your racquet a better feel in your hands. I’ve always felt that a fresh grip gives, well, a better ‘grip’ on the racquet, plus a sense of confidence when I stepped on court. A slipping grip even after wiping it down with a towel is a clear sign that a change in grip is long over due.
This could be anything. Your phone, a book, a game, a PS3. Anything, as long as it passes the time between matches and during rain delays. There’s never any guarantee that your match will start on time and it’s always better to have something to distract yourself from pre-match nerves until 30-45 minutes before the match. Those last 30 minutes should be spent warming up and focusing on the match because you definitely don’t want to be crying about your favorite character from the book you were reading before you step on court.
An Extra Pair of Clothing:
National tournaments sometimes call for two matches a day, and if you’re playing doubles the chance of having two matches a day only increase, even in ITF Juniors and Seniors. Then there’s always the chance of rain delays and other delays so to make a long story short- pack an extra pair of clothing. Just changing your shirt before your next match can help you relax and feel refreshed.
Painkillers/Joint and Muscle Pain Relieving Spray or Patch:
Long matches lead to a sore body, and you can’t count out the possibility of pulling something here or there during a match. Although the tournament medical team should have the necessary first-aid material, it is always better to keep the basics like painkillers and ache relieving sprays and patches on hand.
Not all venues are the same. Not all venues have the same seating facilities or rest areas for players. When it’s hard to find a chair or a bench you can always use your mat. Use it for a nap after your match, for resting while you wait for your mat, or just to sit on while you scout your next opponent. Not to mention it will come in handy for post match stretching.
Your Tournament Attitude:
The most important thing for a tournament is that you should be mentally prepared and a little excited. Enjoy the process of getting ready, getting a little fidgety, and then getting on court. Afterwards, mingle with other players until it’s time to head back to the hotel and focus on tomorrow’s match. Play hard and have fun!