Four tips when traveling to a tournament

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by our partner, Go4, in an ongoing series of health and safety-related posts.

It’s tournament season! If you’re a player, parent or coach, you’re likely spending your summer on the sideline enjoying the heated competition. Here are a few tips to help you survive.

Here are four tips for when you’re traveling to tournaments this summer:

Dress to impress… your autonomic nervous system

From coach, to player, to parents: it’s going to be hot with limited shade at the tournament. Pack a portable cooler with ice, water, and a few small towels; these will help athletes (or dad) bring their core body temperature down and help regulate body temperature in between games, so that you can stay hydrated.

You should also wear and bring extra cool, loose, light-colored, moisture-wicking clothing. The body cools itself through evaporation of sweat. Once clothing becomes saturated with sweat, it becomes more difficult to do this. Change clothing often, especially between games and sessions. Bonus tip: find clothes that have SPF built in so you’re not reapplying sunscreen every 20 minutes.

Finally, pack extra socks! Playing in wet socks is terrible. During early morning games, the fields are covered in dew. Summer rain storms can happen out of nowhere. So, put an extra pair of socks in your kit.

Energize!

These snacks can easily be bought beforehand and are good to eat within 30-60 minutes of a game, because they are fast-digesting foods that quickly convert to energy:

  • Rice cake with peanut butter
  • Nut butter and berry jam sandwich
  • Piece of whole fruit like a banana, apple, orange
  • Several handfuls of blueberries or strawberries
  • Dried fruit and nut-based bars
  • Oat and granola-based bars

Your cortisol spikes on tournament day

As an athlete, if you woke up early, traveled, and then played on the first day of a tournament, you might be tired but still have trouble falling asleep. Your cortisol levels spike after competition day, making it more difficult to fall asleep in preparation of the second day of your event. Bring your own pillow, try earplugs or white noise, and stick to your normal sleep routine, even if you’re in a different time zone. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and engaging in calming (like deep breathing or meditation) activities before bedtime.

Get to the venue early

Aside from needing to park close to your fields to avoid lugging your gear from one side of a venue to the other, athletes need a proper timeline to warm up to optimize performance.

To improve explosive performance, athletes should create a repeatable plan that focuses on a short (10-15 minutes), active warm-up that ends with a rest period less than 15 minutes before the start of competition. This could include dynamic exercises, sprints, or small-sided games that gradually increase heart rate to 50-90 percent of maximum heart rate.

After halftime, make sure you re-warm up, again not exceeding a 15-minute rest period. Depending on the season, heated garments can be used to maintain muscle temperature and the positive effects of your warm-up on your explosive performance.

Need an athletic trainer? Go4 is a nationwide app/platform that connects teams and organizations with per diem athletic trainers for games, practices, camps, clinics and tournaments. For more information, or to find and hire an athletic trainer, visit our partners at Go4 – https://www.Go4.io/hire-ats-us-club-soccer/


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