Tournaments are a great learning experience for all players. The physical demands and the intensity level heighten everyone's (parents, players, coaches) emotions. In order to prepare properly, give each team the best chance for success, and to gain the most from the experience, there are many suggestions and factors to discuss.
PLAYER PREPARATION - being physically ready to play.
The most difficult requirement for players will be the physical energy expended over two the duration of the tournament, usually two or three days. The week and days leading up to the tournament, players must be properly rested, hydrated, and fed.
SLEEP & REST
Try to stick to regular sleep habits of 8 to 10 hours per day. Travel, excitement, fatigue, injuries, noise, and new surroundings, can make sleeping at the tournament hotels a bit of a challenge. Take extra time to relax and unwind before going to bed. Parents sharing rooms with their players need to be certain that their child is getting to bed at his normal time. Also, be sure to rest between games. When at tournaments, the hotel is your home for the weekend, treat it as such.
The energy your body is able to expend depends on several significant factors. In addition to proper rest, your overall fitness, strength and endurance are very important attributes in competing at top levels. They are developed through long term, consistent physical hard work. You won't be able to make a huge impact on your physical strength during the week leading up to the tournament, as a result, daily fitness and healthy eating habits are very important.
No matter how physically fit you may be, how well you perform, will depend on the foods you choose to eat and or are fed. Your Diet the week before the tournament is as important as during the tournament. Eat three wholesome meals per day and select healthy snacks when snacking. Foods high in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fats are best. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, are all great sources of food choices. During the tournament, make sure you give your food plenty of time to digest before competing in a game to avoid nausea. Refuel when you have the most time between games. Try not to skip any meals.
Perhaps the most important thing we can remember to do prior to and during any tournament is to hydrate with plenty of water. Proper hydration will help you reach peak performance levels and also help prevent injury. Muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, and heat exhaustion, are a few symptoms related to lack of water intake. How much water you need to drink will depend on how hard you are working on the field, and how hot it is. You should drink water during the entire match if you feel you need it or not. Proper hydration begins 24 hours before the start of the match. The majority of your intake needs to be from drinks, roughly 80 percent, with the remainder of your fluid intake coming from foods. MedlinePlus recommends a minimum of six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day given average temperatures, humidity and physical exercise. The American Council on Exercise suggests drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of the match and 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes of the game. Afterward, drink 8 ounces of fluid.
MNT Jan 17, 2012
While the science is complex, the guidelines are fairly simple. Athletes’ Performance has done a nice job laying out the message that make it easy for anyone to follow, from the most experienced athletes to those looking for a healthier lifestyle.
The 10 Nutrition Rules To Live By
1. COME BACK TO EARTH: Choose the least processed forms of food such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and high fiber carbohydrates.
2. EAT A RAINBOW OFTEN: Eat fruits or vegetables with each meal. Choose a wide variety of colors for the biggest benefit.
3. THE LESS LEGS THE BETTER: Include a LEAN protein source with each meal.
4. EAT HEALTHY FATS: Include healthy fats in your diet like olive oil, nuts, natural nut butters, seeds, avocado, fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
5. EAT BREAKFAST EVERY DAY: When you eat within 30 minutes of waking up, you jump start your metabolism. This gives you more energy to get your day going.
6. THREE FOR THREE: Eat smaller portions more often, spread evenly across the day. No excuses – you should be eating 4-6 meals/day! Aim for all three macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) every three hours for optimal fueling.
7. STAY HYDRATED: Dehydration = Decreased Performance. Drink at least three liters of non-caloric beverages (water/green tea) every day.
8. DON’T WASTE YOUR WORKOUT: Have a post-workout recovery meal or shake that combines both carbs and protein immediately after your training.
9. SUPPLEMENT WISELY: Fuel first and supplement second. If you are not getting what you need through food, add a multivitamin supplement into your daily routine. Create a smart supplementation program that improves your performance without compromising your health or draining your wallet. Before you take any type of supplement, make sure to check in with your doctor or registered dietitian.
10. SLEEP: Aim for eight hours of sleep. If you can’t get eight hours daily, consider power naps when you can. The body recovers and repairs best when it is sleeping.
And to finish off …
The 80/20 Rule: Each meal and snack is an opportunity to fuel your body optimally. Choose the foods that are best for you 80% of the time and incorporate some of those foods that may not be the best, but are your favorites, 20% of the time!
Spas, pools, and steam rooms are all wonderful luxuries of staying at a hotel, but beware! They will all zap you of much needed energy and endurance. Never use them between games, and time spent in any of the above should be very limited, if at all during the event.
Participating in other sports and or physical activities during the same time frame as a soccer tournament is really a bad idea. Playing one soccer match takes a tremendous amount of energy, nevermind adding another sport during that same day to the mix. To give yourself and your team the best possible you, stay focused on your soccer tournament, and avoid participating in other physical activities that weekend.
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
Proper dress is very important to your success during a weekend tournament. Weather can range from scorching heat and humidity to icy sleet or snow. In the heat, it is important to use a long lasting, sweat resistant, high SPF, sunblock, and it should be applied often. Be especially careful to protect skin that does not receive regular sun exposure, like your feet. Also, never walk around barefoot. Glass, splinters, stubbed toes, abrasions, and athletes foot, can bring your tournament participation to an immediate halt.
Cold weather brings a host of other difficulties. Dress warmly with proper fitting, layered clothing that can easily be removed as the game progresses. Long pants and sleeves are permitted provided they match the uniform. Bring at least two of everything. Your clothing can be wet and dirty after a match and will need to be washed and dry in order to wear again. The worse time for the cold weather is when you come off the field to stand on the sideline. Make sure you have a dry, warm jacket and pants to wear while resting. Be sure to protect your head and hands with a hat and gloves. Do what you can to stay dry and being wet and cold is worse than just being cold.
We can preach responsibility, however, the preparedness of your child for the weekend will undoubtedly require your direction. Be certain to check players equipment well in advance of your departure as lost uniforms or shoes can be very difficult to deal with during a tournament.
Some specifics for parents:
1. Let the club and or manager know asap regarding your child's ability to participate.
2. Once committed to a tournament, you must go or find a replacement. If you are unable to find a replacement, you are still liable for the tournament fee.
3. Be certain all required paperwork has been submitted.
4. Talk to your child about proper conduct and proper preparation before the tournament.
5. Act respectfully towards all parents, players, coaches, managers, teams, referees and tournament officials at all times. You are not only representing your family, but the Whitecaps family as well.
6. Be certain you have all of the correct scheduling and field map locations and be prepared for any last minute changes.
7. Enjoy the experience - you will be building lifetime memories.