Tournament Preparation – What to bring…
In a previous post I wrote about how to prepare for a tournament from a training and fitness point of view. Not long after publishing the post I realised that another important element of tournament preparation is making sure you bring along all the right things to get you through the tournament.
This post is about making sure everything is available to you when you need it to be. I like to know that if I need something during a game I will be able to grab it and get on with playing. I don’t want to have to fret about not having the right bit of gear for a certain weather condition, or the right food for my particular energy-levels at any given time.
By being prepared with all the right items I can focus on the important aspects that are happening on the field without having to worry about anything else.
The first consideration is a bag to put everything in. I’ve dedicated an entire post to the bag I use for Ultimate Frisbee tournaments so you can check that out here. Once you’ve got the bag sorted there’s a bunch of stuff you’ll need to put in it:
Who knows what weather you will be playing in across a 2-3 day tournament? In southern Australia it is impossible to plan for any weather in particular so here’s how to cover everything:
- Jersey/Shirt – Your team jersey!
- Shorts – Shorts that match your jersey or whatever your team is going with.
- Compression Shorts – Worn under your regular shorts if it isn’t cold. Quite good for your muscles over a tournament.
- Base Layers – I like wearing a base-layer when I’m playing, one that wicks away sweat. They keep me warm when it is cold, and keep the sweat off me when it is hot. At a tournament they also help keep my jersey fresh for more than a day. They don’t have to be expensive, I use these ones from Torpedo 7. I bring one for each day of the tournament.
- Socks – I bring heaps of socks, at least one pair for every day of the tournament and potentially 2-per day. Fresh socks are amazing mid tournament and also help prevent blisters from sliding round with sweaty feet in hot conditions.
- Cleats/Boots – Some people have tournament-specific boots. I just have some trusty Asics that I love and wear whenever I play Ultimate
- Cap – Helps visibility and also helps keep the sun off your face. Alternatively, if it is raining/cold it keeps your head dry and warm and stops water running down your face.
- Sunglasses – I squint a lot in the sun so prefer to play in sunglasses if it is sunny. Some claim it is a disadvantage if my teammates can’t see where I am looking but it hasn’t seem to be too much of an issue.
- Compression Tights – If it is really cold you’ll want some coverage on your legs. Compression tights allow you to run around with coverage without getting too hot (as opposed to some sports-oriented tights that are fleecy and generally too hot for running in).
- Arm Warmers – Probably my most crucial bit of Ultimate kit aside from the usual stuff. I have found cycling arm warmers to be brilliant for variable weather or warming up. Your arms stay warm without adding an extra layer to your chest, which then gets hot when you run. The biggest benefit is you can just pull them off when you warm up, even mid-point. Some are water-resistant such as the Castelli Nanoflex ones that I have. I originally started using Arm Warmers for cycling but I can highly recommend them for Ultimate.
- Beanie – If it gets really cold I will play in a beanie to keep my wears warm.
- Underpants – I play Ultimate in briefs whereas I generally wear boxer-briefs. As a result I need to remember a pair per-day.
- Waterproof/Windproof Jacket – On cold days you’ll want something warm to put on between points and in breaks between games.
- Sweatbands – On hot days I like to wear a sweat band on my throwing arm. Mainly this is for wiping my face but if it is really hot it also stops sweat running down to my hand a bit.
- Gloves – I’m not entirely sold on the idea of playing in Gloves as yet but I do currently carry a paid of the Lookfly Ultimate gloves with me and wear them occasionally. As a mini review, I wish they let you choose which hand you throw with so the other hand could have five full-fingers on the gloves rather than two useless cut-out ends.
- Thongs – Similarly to having fresh socks, being able to take your cleats off and wander round in thongs at lunch time is amazingly good for your feet. Do it!
- A frisbee! – You’ll need it for warm-ups and to kill time in the airport.
Food and Liquids
You need to stay hydrated and well fed throughout a tournament. This requires some preparation:
- Drink Bottles – I bring two and have them full and on the sidelines within easy reach at all times. One is for water and one is for electrolytes/sports drinks.
- Sports Drink – In the past I have carried a tub of Gatorade around however more recently I took a tube of Nuun tablets to a tournament. These were much more portable (smaller) and heaps easier to prepare in a drink bottle each time. I try and drink water and electrolytes equally, aiming for a bottle of each per game.
- Gels/Energy Bars – Running all day for several days in a row saps energy. You won’t feel hungry but you’ll need fuel. I bring 2 energy bars per day but can substitute one for a banana if there are some available at the tournament (they are a bit easier to eat mid-game). I haven’t tried any Gels as yet but they’d be fine if you can find any that taste nice!
- A bowel and Spork – Some tournaments offer dinner but require your own cutlery/crockery. I normally bring along a bowl and a spork as I’m not overly keen to eat off a frisbee.
- Sunscreen – apply regularly and liberally. Nothing worse than having to deal with sunburn on the second day of a tournament.
- Anti-Inflammatories – Either Voltaren or Nurofen. If you get a sprain or a twinge or an ache you can safely start taking anti-inflammatories to help you through the tournament.
- Paracetamol – If you’re taking Voltaren and need some extra pain relief then Paracetamol can help. Nurofen has pain relief built in.
- Sports Tape – My feet aren’t used to spending a couple of days cutting hard in lots of different directions. I can start to develop blisters after a while and sports tape can help to avoid that.
- Ankle Brace – I’ve sprained my ankle a few times during tournaments. If it is still ok to run on a brace will help avoid doing more damage whilst you continue playing.
Generally speaking if you’re going away for a weekend tournament you won’t actually spend a lot of time wearing your regular clothes. This section is really up to personal preference and baggage allowance! Last tournament I brought what I wore on the plane plus some shorts and a spare t-shirt.
Whatever you would normally bring when you’re travelling – don’t forget any prescription medicines or similar. Also, don’t forget your toothbrush! I forgot mine last tournament :(
Other general travelling stuff
The usual travelling stuff applies:
- Phone Charger
- Book to read
- Chewing Gum
- Headphones – probably one of the worst things I have forgotten.
- Plane Itineraries – I store mine on my phone normally.
I think that’s about it! Hopefully that’s a useful list of things to bring to a tournament, along with some tips for a few things you may not have considered.
How about you? Is there anything missing on my list that you would bring? Any pro items that I’m missing?