Depending on whether you play tennis just fun, or whether you are very competitive, you may consider entering a tournament at some stage. Tournaments can be a great way to meet new people and gauge your standard against other tennis players.
Here are a few guidelines to help you prepare for a tournament that should help you be more successful.
First of all, take into account your overall fitness level before you decide how many events (singles/doubles/mixed doubles) to enter.
Usually, tournaments are held over an extended weekend period and if you enter more than one event, you could find yourself playing back to back matches. If you are fit and prepared, then this is OK but don’t try back to back matches over several days when you are only an occasional player and not very fit.
You will probably end up injuring yourself. To give yourself the best chance of success, try increasing your work-outs and tennis matches several weeks before the event to build up your stamina, endurance and fitness level.
In your workouts, a good idea would be to incorporate many of the tennis specific exercises in the “Complete Conditioning for Tennis” book by E. Paul Roetert and Todd S. Ellenbecker.
In your tennis matches and practice sessions, make sure you include players with lots of different styles such as back-boarders and left-handers so that you are not surprised if you encounter this situation in the tournament.
Make sure that you are doing regular stretches each day (see dynamic and static stretching article). As you get closer to the to the tournament (within a week), you can gradually decrease the amount of exercise to avoid the risk of strains and injuries, but still, maintain a moderate amount of tennis practice sessions so that your timing and footwork remain good.
Check Your Tennis Racquet
Checking your equipment such as your tennis racquet is also a vital part before a tournament. Inspect any damages like cracks and scratches. Whether you are using a beginner’s racquet or an advanced racquet, this step is very important. Plug: Don’t have any racquets yet? Check this beginner’s guide on how to choose your tennis racquet.
Eat Healthy Foods
During the last week before the event, start reducing the amount of fat and increasing the amount of carbohydrate (oat-meal, pasta, bread, potatoes, rice) in your diet. You should aim to obtain about 60-70% of your total calorie intake from carbs during the last few days.
This is to increase your ‘glycogen’ store which your muscles use to convert to energy to work effectively (more about this in an upcoming article). Eating a few bananas a day about 2-3 days before the event is also good to increase your potassium levels.
This is important because potassium can be lost from the body when you sweat during a tennis match and excessive losses (together with other electrolytes such as sodium) may lead to muscle cramping. Try also to drink as much water as possible to fully hydrate yourself.
Get A Good Sleep at Night & No Alcohol
In this last week, you also want to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and you should avoid any alcohol in the last 3 days because alcohol can lead to dehydration of the body. Remember, you can always party after the tournament!
On the night before the tournament, you can eat a pasta meal to stock up on your carbohydrate levels and in the morning, you can have a breakfast such as oatmeal (also a good source of carbs) with skimmed milk.
Try to avoid eating anything 2-3 hours before the match so that your stomach does not contain partially digested food. In the soon to be Part 2 of this article, I will cover the items you should take with you to the tournament.