Tournament play is a major part of the SBA experience. Our tournaments last an entire weekend and include multiple games per day. This is why preparation is key for athletes, not only for avoiding injuries and improving stamina, but also to ensure players are mentally and physically able to play their best and contribute to the success of their team.
Scheduled practices help players prepare as a team, but competitive players will also go a step beyond in order to gear themselves up for tournament play. Here are some essential steps to follow in the days leading up to a basketball tournament:
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
Getting the appropriate amount of sleep is always important, but it’s even more crucial during the nights leading up to a tournament. Different age groups require different amounts of sleep. Be aware of how much sleep your body needs for optimal performance, and make your sleep a priority.
2. Be attentive to your diet.
What you eat plays a key role in preparing your body for an arduous competition. Of course, you should always ensure your diet includes calcium-rich foods – like low-fat dairy products and leafy green vegetables – as well as foods high in protein, including fish, lean meat and poultry, beans, nuts and soy products.
Four days before the tournament, you should focus on building up your nutrient stores by eating carb-heavy food, like whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread and cereal, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Your potassium intake is also important – try eating a couple of bananas every day, for three or four days before playing.
Most importantly, drink lots of water throughout the day to ensure proper hydration.
3. Warm up mentally.
Take some time to go over game strategies and plays you’ve learned in practice in your mind. Ask your coach ahead of time if there is anything you feel uncertain about. Visualize scoring that basket or defending against a star player on the opposing team. Remember, basketball is 20 percent physical and 80 percent mental.
4. Arrive early.
Being late will only bring added pressure. Give yourself plenty of time to find the gym, especially if the location is unfamiliar. Get a feel for the court, take your time lacing up your shoes, and give yourself the chance to chat with coaches and players before warm ups.
5. Remember to have fun.
Of course, players take the time and effort needed to prepare for a tournament because they want to play their best, but it’s also important to stay positive and relaxed. After all, we’re all here for the same reason – for the love of the game. Make sure you enjoy it!