Preparing for a Tournament

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Tournaments are a great way to test your skills and see how you play under pressure. It can be stressful, so here are some tips to prepare yourself properly.

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Before a Tournament Text Section

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Before you go to a tournament, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  1. Read the Rules of the Tournament.
    Be sure you know how the tournament is being run. Know where exactly it is, and know what to do when your match starts. In a lot of tournaments, if the match is set for 10:00am and you arrive at 10:01, they can default you and you lose automatically, so know the rules.

    Do you have to check in at the control desk?
    Do they allow food and drink in the playing area?
  2. Arrive early.
    Go to the tournament venue early, and arrive at your specific match early.
  3. Get plenty of sleep.
    There's no point showing up at your tournament tired and not giving your best.
  4. Bring drinks and snacks.
    You can definitely get hungry and may not have time to find a place to buy food, so pack some yourself.
  5. Don't switch your equipment soon before a tournament!
    Don't experiment with a new type of rubber or a new blade close to a tournament. It takes time to adjust. Don't even use a fresh sheet of rubber. If you want to switch to a new sheet, make sure you have one or two playing sessions before the tournament so you can get adjusted, even if it's the same model of rubber.
  6. Bring a camcorder if possible.
    Recording your matches is a great way to improve, especially at tournaments. Watching yourself under pressure can reveal some weaknesses that you don't notice when you play without any pressure at the club or for fun. If you do bring it, don't let it out of your sight as expensive items can still get stolen.
  7. Bring a Coach.
    Having a proper coach (or even a fellow player) to watch your games and offer advice in between games is very helpful.

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Recommend Food and Drinks Text Section

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Here are the commonly recommended food and drinks for a tournament:

  1. Gatorade or Water.
    Both are good, and are up to preference.
  2. Banana.
    Fruits have a lot of energy, and aren't bananas just great?
  3. Avoid greasy foods like hamburgers and hot dogs.
    These are just plain bad for you!
  4. Pasta the night before.
    Some people recommend eating a full plate of pasta the night before as energy for the tournament the next day.

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During the Tournament Text Section

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Here are tips when you're at the tournament:

  1. Be early for your matches.
    Arrive early for your matches so you have time to warm up at your tournament table. Some tournaments don't have the same table at all locations, so get used to the table you'll be playing your next match on.
  2. Don't drink too much.
    Try not to fill up on drinks while you're playing. It's tempting to drink a lot when you're hot and sweaty, but keep it in moderation so you don't get too full.
  3. Observe your opponents.
    In a round robin situation, you'll get to watch your opponents play each other. So take note of their strengths and weaknesses. See their repertoire of serves so you'll know what to expect. This gives you a significant advantage over someone who doesn't pay attention.
  4. Don't underestimate an opponent.
    You may see that an opponent doesn't have textbook strokes or plays in an awkward manner, but don't be fooled! A lot of people with awkward playing styles are surprisingly effective at what they do, so go into the match expecting to be challenged and don't ease up!
  5. Inspect your opponent's racket before the match.
    Is the opponent using pips? It's better to see it early than figure it out later! Try not to touch the rubber as you may rub your oils on it. Be courteous and only touch the handle, not the rubber surface.
  6. Know the rules about coaching.
    In a match you cannot receive coaching tips in the middle of games; you can only do this during the breaks between games, or during a timeout (if timeouts are allowed at your tournament).
  7. Use proper Etiquette.
    People are stressed enough as it is without players breaking the common rules of etiquette. See the link at the bottom.
  8. Relax.
    Don't stress out over a tournament too much. Try to relieve the pressure off and just play your normal strategy. It's very common to get nervous and have your play negatively affected, so learn to stay strong and not get anxious during games.

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