The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win
Fielding Yost (adapted)
Normally when we’re talking about preparation we’re talking about the weeks and months that lead up to the significant event. We talk about the dedication, sacrifices, planning, training and the consistency of application that is required for any great endeavour. Today though, it’s simpler. Get the evening before the competition right. Here are just a few pointers that we give to our competitors before national / regional competitions.
Pack your own bag
Don’t leave this to anyone else! Think about it, we’ve all been asked this question at an airport as you hand over your luggage. “Did you pack this bag yourself?” They’re concerned that you might have put something dangerous to the flight or other passengers in the bag, or that you might have broken the rules on liquids and you’ll slow down proceedings at security but most of all that it’s going to be you accepting responsibility if something is wrong. It’s the same principle we use when we say “pack your own bag”. It’s not mum’s fault you don’t have your gumshield or groin guard. And it’s not dad’s fault you have two dobok jackets and no pants. You have to start by taking responsibility for what you bring with you and that brings us to point 2.
Make a checklist
Dobok, belt, gumshield, sparring gear (blue and red?), shin/groin guard, water, food, towel, gumshield, club tracksuit etc. Yes I put gumshield in there twice, three times might have been better. The number one piece of equipment lost or forgotten at tournaments is the gumshield. It’s also a tricky one to deal with on the day because you can’t exactly borrow one. Even if there’s an equipment stand or shop, gumshields are not a priority for them and you still have to find a way to mould it. That all sounds like stress. Have one or two cheap spares in the bag just in case. This all becomes even more critical if you wear braces. You’re going to need your Orthodontist fitted set. It should be the first and last thing on your list.
Think about the weigh in.
If you have a same day weigh in you’re likely to be skipping breakfast at least on the day of the event until after your weigh in. You need to pack appropriate food and drinks to recover and fuel yourself for performance later in the day. Depending on how the weigh in is conducted you probably need a t-shirt to wear for the weigh in too, not a string vest, a crop top or a sports bra. Easy to forget, better to be prepared.
Take the time to walk yourself through everything that’s going to happen the next day. This is a really good exercise so that you don’t feel surprised or overwhelmed by anything you encounter. From waking up and turning off your alarm, the drive to the event, arriving and getting your registration or timetable, weighing in, eating, warming up, your patterns, your sparring warm up and the techniques and strategies you’ve been working on. It should all happen first in your head before you try to make it all happen in the event. Make it all as real and vivid as possible in your mind. It really helps to have a picture or video of the venue so that your frame of reference is better.
Go to bed at a reasonable hour to allow a good night’s sleep. Set your alarm or multiple alarms. Waking late creates stresses you could do without. You really want to have as little to do in the morning as possible. It should be as easy as wake up, put on the clothes you left out, eat the breakfast you prepared, pack the lunch you made the night before into your bag and off you go. Keep it as simple as possible. If you tend to have trouble sleeping the night before events then plan for this. Get in a quiet dark bedroom earlier than you need to. Put aside phones and tablets for a while before going to bed. Do your mental rehearsal earlier so your mind is quieter. Give yourself the time to rest and set your environment to make it easier.
All of these little steps are minor in themselves. Paying attention to all the details adds up though. Minimise the things that can go wrong here and you’ll soon find you’re increasing your chances of success at the event. You can check out our chat at the blackboard on YouTube. Click the link below