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Welcome to our latest article in a series aimed at provide support to parents of young athletes. In this article we look at some tips for preparing for competition as many young athletes don’t have experience of competing and might need some help when at a competition. Some coaches provide support to athletes during competition but same are not able to so hopefully these tips will help.

Tip #1 – Prepare the night before

The night before you compete make sure you have everything you need to for your competition. Key items include:

  • Club vest
  • Trainers or spikes
  • Shorts
  • T-shirt/Jumper/Bottoms/Rain Coat/Umbrella
  • Safety pins (for your number)
  • Sun cream

There have been many occasions when very talented athletes have forgotten something important like their spikes before a major competition.

Tip #2 – Wear the right kit

Make sure you travel to the competition and warm up in clothing that is comfortable and will protect you from the British weather (rain, wind or sun). Make sure you layer up to keep your muscles warm for as long as possible. Warming up in your competition vest, shorts and spikes is not best practice. A good way to think about preparing your body for a competition is to imagine its like a race car, you want to protect it until the very last moment.

In Motorsport and F1 they keep the cars tryes protected until just before the race starts. It should be the same for your body. Even when its a very warm day still layer up and protect yourself from sun burn, dehydration and sun stroke.

Tip #3 – Warm up properly

Warming up properly for a competition will help prevent injury and ensure you are mentally ready for your event. Give yourself enough time to warm up without feeling rushed or stressed as this won’t help your performance. A good rule of thumb is to arrive at your competition venue a minimum of 90 – 120 minutes before your event start time. This will allow time to collect numbers (if required), get yourself settled and ready to compete. About 60mins before your event start time start to warm up, go through your normal routine as you do in training but take your time and don’t rush. Focus on each exercise or drill and take time between to relax. Make sure you factor in getting to the event area of start line as these should be around 10 – 15mins before the start time. It is usually more for field events and large championship event when you might need to book in up 60mins before the event start. If you are not sure on the type of warm up to do have a look at our Dynamic Athletics Warm Up guidance for some ideas.

Tip #4 – Make sure you eat and drink

On competition day don’t forget to have a good breakfast and to continue eating throughout the day. All athletes are different but your body won’t perform at its best without enough fuel. So make sure you have a nice breakfast, have snacks and drinks available throughout the day. Depending on your body you might need to try out different snacks and timings to see what works for you.

Tip #5 – Enjoy yourself and have fun

The most important element of competing and taking part in sport is to enjoy it. Don’t get worked up about how you are going to perform and if you don’t get a personal best every time (because that is not possible).

Enjoy competing and meeting new people. You will find that as you progress in competition you will make some amazing friends and that competing will not only be about the event but about seeing your fellow competitors.

We hope you have enjoyed this article please share with fellow parents of young athletes and remember to read our other articles in the series.

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