Tournament time is a unique time throughout the year where players often travel, long drives are made, and everything may feel rushed. From rushing to the next field location because you’re trying to squeeze a meal in, to not knowing what to do in your downtime in between games, below is a guide to help your family turn on tournament mode.
The Night Before:
During 'day one' of your tournament, chances are you have more than one game, therefore, the night before is very essential in preparation for the tournament.
Players: Make sure to eat a good meal before a long weekend of exercising muscles and pushing your body towards dehydration. Food should be balanced with carbohydrates and proteins. Breads, grains and pastas are known for providing energy. Meats like turkey and chicken provide good proteins to muscles, so they could give you more endurance throughout the day. If you drink plenty of fluids (without too much sugar), you should also have an extra burst of energy and players will be further away from fatigue.
Parents: Make sure to obtain schedules and field locations the night before. If possible, try and view a satellite map of your field location in order to have a visual of what to look for once you’re there. Often times, parents have arrived at the location but do not know 'exactly' where to go because the field is 'hidden'. It's helpful to have a visual beforehand.
Having contact with other parents is essential. Parents could collaborate on places to eat, ask and answer any questions together, and bond as a team along with the players. Some of the most successful youth teams have parents that collaborate and help one another. Try and obtain the contact information of another parent.
Players should have both uniforms in their bag, and a light snack packed along with extra water in order to keep the body from shutting down throughout the next day.
The day of the tournament players cannot eat heavy foods. Stay away from fats and greasy food, along with dairy products because they stay in players’ systems longer. Bananas are usually a ‘go to’ because of their high potassium but you can also alternate with different fruits as well. Also, have extra water, and drink sport beverages like Gatorade and Powerade because they’re heavy on electrolytes.
Throughout the day make sure players drink plenty of water. Often times, players don’t feel thirsty, but they are dehydrated from playing a game. Do NOT drink soda or eat heavy throughout the day; try and save that for dinner time. While eating dinner, make sure your food is rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Stay away from fast food restaurants like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.
Logistically, parents need to make sure transportation is organized and timely. Know the distance between your fields and plan accordingly. Also, make sure players have their jerseys, correct bag, shinguards, and cleats after the game.
Some tournaments have spread out schedules. You might have a game at 8 a.m. and then another one at 2 p.m. You don’t want to drive home because you’re too far or it makes no sense if you do because you’re only going to be there for a little due to the next game.
Long breaks in between games are when the eating and resting is done. Minimize the energy your child exerts. Parents sometimes have their players running around and come game time, their attention and energy is at a lower level than it would be if they had rested and eaten calmly during their downtime.
Find a restaurant or a local Starbucks and simply relax. Parents can also get to a field early and eat your 'to-go food' there or sit and support another team within the club (if they’re playing at the same location). In the past, during long breaks, players have hung out at fields, visited a local store or shopping plaza, or hangout with other teammates. Anything but run around and waste large amounts of energy.
Cheer Players On!
Tournament-time can be a bit stressful because everything seems rushed and everyone wants to win. Make sure to support every player and bring nothing but positive energy to them and their team. At SVFC, we want tournaments to be about fun. If players have been developing, results will come on their own. Make sure to cheer players on and make the most of this experience!
Good Luck to all our SVFC teams!