Whether it is a tournament or a tryout, the days leading up to a competition are important for fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs for optimal performance. Regardless of how strong your volleyball skills are, your energy level is key to being able to perform well throughout a long, hot day of tournament play. These are some of the things I do before every competition.
Drink water. Hydrating enough before competition is vital for success. The general rule for athletes is to consume 32 ounces of water a day. However, it is possible to drink too much water and over-hydrate, which can be dangerous to your health. To avoid this, make sure to supplement enough sodium and electrolytes into your diet. For more information on hydration for athletes click here.
Stay away from high amounts of carbohydrates. If you google “what to eat before a game,” the most common answer you will get is carbohydrates. We have all heard the saying to carb-load the night before competition and this may work for some people, but I have found that technique actually makes me feel sluggish the day of competition.
Load up on fat and protein. The day before a tournament I make sure to consume high amounts of saturated fat, moderate amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates. I drink water all throughout the day and chug two glasses of water before bed. However, I follow a ketogenic diet, which I will talk about more in another post. I do not recommend cutting most of your carbs the day before competition if you are not already following a low-carb diet.
Go to bed early. I know we have all heard that it is important to get a good night of sleep the day before you compete and this really does make a difference. I have made the mistake of staying up till 2 a.m. the night before a tournament and I crash around 12 p.m. the next day. When I would get seven to nine hours of sleep before a competition, I was able to make it throughout the day without crashing until about 5 p.m. And here’s the reason why: sleep helps keep you mentally sharp, helps your reaction time, hand-eye coordination and aids in muscle recovery. All of which are very crucial for volleyball players and all athletes in general.
Do some light exercise. Now you may be wondering, “Should I play volleyball or exercise the day before a competition?” I personally like to get my blood pumping the day before, but for no longer than 30 minutes. For example, the day before my last tournament I went for a 15-minute jog and did 10 minutes of ab exercises. I have also stuck to one of my old coach’s rule of playing no more than one game of beach volleyball the day before competition. Generally, you want to keep exercise light the day before a tournament. If you feel like exercising may be too much for your body, taking the time to get some good stretching or foam-rolling in is also just as beneficial.