T-Minus 7 - An Athlete's Guide To The Nationals Countdown

It’s t-minus 7 days until Australian D1 Nationals. Teams will have one or two trainings left to finesse the small elements of their game, to do the things that will get them over the line. So how can we prepare for a big tournament, both mentally and physically, to give us the best chance of performing well?



Keep working out


7 days is plenty of time to keep priming your body for peak performance at Nationals. In the last week before a tournament, your workouts should be mostly running and disc-skill focused. Keep them short and sharp, leaving you out of the breath, but not absolutely destroyed. It’s difficult to have a big impact on your fitness at this stage, so work on running form, speed, power and disc skills.


If you’ve been regularly hitting the gym through the season, you could squeeze in one more session this week, but keep the weights relatively light and perhaps lower your reps slightly. Keep movements functional and explosive, you’re not going to gain much from going heavy this late in the game.


Your body only needs about two days to recover from a workout, but even during these two days before the tournament you should remain active. If your body ever feels sluggish for Game 1 Day 1, you’re perhaps taking too much rest before tournaments and your nervous system is getting a shock when you ask it to perform at 100%. In the days immediately preceding a tournament make sure you get out and get your body to a 100% run. This session could just involve 10 minutes of footwork and 2 or 3 sprints, but you’ll feel fresher Game 1 because of it.


Manage your injuries


If your season has been plagued by injuries, especially those which really inhibit your ability to perform, then don’t push it in this last week. It is better that you arrive at Nationals incrementally and more able to run, than slightly fitter but still hampered by an aggravated injury.


Throw


If you have the capacity to throw every day, then do it, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. It’s more about familiarising yourself with the disc, than it is about improving your disc skills. If you’re the kind of person that needs a few games for their throws to warm up, then why not do this warm up before the tournament even starts? Then you can really attack that first game with confidence.


Eat well


If you already eat a diet rich in protein, vegetables and carbs, then you don’t need to significantly change your eating habits. ‘Carb loading’ is a term thrown around a lot, but this only really works if you’ve been starving your body of carbs beforehand. Just try to avoid junk food, even the pre-flight airport Maccas isn’t doing your body any favours.


H2 – oh yeah!


Hydration for a tournament should begin a couple of days out. Drink slightly more than you think you normally need on these days. Get your body moist and ready for a sweaty Townsville weekend.


Don’t play the tournament before you get there


Borrowing this directly from the Dan Rule coaching handbook. If you’re the kind of player that works themselves up thinking about particular games, opponents, strategies, or potential outcomes, then take a deep breath and focus on something else. Unless you’re the coach or captain trying to develop a game plan, then there’s very little that this achieves, except to mentally and emotionally exhaust you before the first game has even started. You can’t control any outcomes before you step on the field, except your own preparation.


Believe that you are ready


Regardless of the state of your mind, body or team, believe that you are as ready as you’ll ever be. You have worked hard to get where you are, and you will make do with whatever is at your disposal. Your team mates will pick up any areas where you fall short, that’s the beauty of team sports. This is Nationals, there is no room for fear, no room for doubt. You are ready.