Tournament Mistake #1: Not Prepping the Night Before
Fueling for a tournament starts before the tournament begins. I start drinking extra water a few days before my first day of competition, to ensure I am fully hydrated. I also prep all my food and beverages the night before the competition. I don’t want to worry about it in the morning…I don’t want to feel rushed or add another stressor to the mix. I have written before that I can’t eat a lot during a tournament, but always eat snacks (figs or dried apricots, nuts, cheese), consume gels and consume electrolyte products from Hammer Nutrition.
Tournament Mistake #2: No Base of Operations
Pickleball tournaments are busy, crowded places. So the first thing we do when we get to a venue is find a base. We bring our chairs, coolers and bags and stake our claim to a place where we know we can always go between matches. My womens’ partner and I always have a little camp with her family, Linh and the pups. We know that throughout the day, we can always find each other there. We don’t stress over not being able to find our partner. It also provides a place to strategize, if necessary, between matches and provides privacy. I often wear noise cancelling head phones, or listen to my tournament day playlist when I am there. For me, it is important to clear my mind before I play.
Tournament Mistake #3: Insufficient Warm Up
Many players wait until their first match is called to start to warm up. By the time they get their scorecard and find the court, they may only have 5-7 minutes left to warm up. Even 10 minutes is not enough to start the day. You want a full warm up before the day begins. Check with the venue ahead of time and determine if practice courts will be made available. If not, scope out a place (even a place in the parking lot) you can warm up.
Tournament Mistake #4: Being too Social
We often run into folks we haven’t seen in months at a tournament. We want to be social…we want to get caught up. We can lose track of the time and as a result not take care of ourselves between games. Remember you need to torefuel between matches. You need time to talk to your partner, or just enjoy some quiet time.
Tournament Mistake #5: Taking Early Rounds for Granted
I sometimes hear someone say, “I’m playing so and so in the first round and I’m not worried.” Then they come back having lost to a team they routinely beat in “rec play”. We can’t assume that how one plays in a tournament will be the same as in recreation play. Perhaps the other team will be more focused…and play better. Perhaps we will be tentative or show a bit of nerves…not playing as well. I don’t care if you have beaten someone ten out of ten times, a good competitor is going to assume that each match requires, and deserves, their full attention. The tough reality is that anyone can beat anyone on any given day.
The fact is there is more and more good competition out there. The last thing we need is to make it tougher on ourselves by committing these pickleball tournament mistakes.