This week has all been about preparing for a tournament. Today I am going to discuss and list some of the important things you should bring to a tournament. This may sound like a simple task, but look inside any experienced players squash bag and you will find a lot of unexpected but useful items.
We all know the basics, racquet, eye guards, court shoes, and ball. So what else do you need? Depending on your level and experience I recommend a 2nd racquet that is the same; same model, same string and tension, and same grip if possible. I always brought at least 3 racquets to tournaments. I've had 2 strings break in a single game before, so if this is a common issue for you a 3rd or even a 4th racquet can come in handy. I say last year that Nick Matthew brings something like 21 racquets with him to tournaments. Crazy! I've also heard a story about Jonathon Power where he broke a string or racquet and his backup racquet didn't have a grip on it and the ref wouldn't allow him time to regrip it, so he had to finish playing the game with no grip on his racquet. I know this story sounds like an urban legend, but that's what I've heard.
So besides the basics and extra racquets what else should you pack? I would start with a water bottle and/or some gatorade. A can of Gatorade powder can be cheaper and will be well used. At tournaments hydration and good sources of fuel are important. So I also suggest brining some granola or protein bars. Other foods that go well at tournaments include, bananas, trail mix, apples, sandwiches, and veggie sticks. Even if a tournament says they serve food I never rely on this. Sometimes the tournaments don't serve the food when you should be eating or don't serve the healthiest or best options for during a tournament.
I know this may sound obvious, but bring more squash clothes than you expect to need. This goes for socks and underwear. They don't take up much space when you travel and they are the worse clouting to run out of. You can't reuse clothes after tough matches so be prepared. I always brought at 4 or 5 pairs of shorts and at least 6 or 7 shirts. You should also bring track pants and a long sleeve top incase it's cool around the courts or for after your matches while you are refereeing.
Must Have Items:
- squash bag (big enough to fit all of the stuff on this list)
- 2+ racquets
- 4+ pairs of shorts/skirts
- 4+ shirts
- 6+ pairs of socks/underwear
- track pants
- long sleeve athletic top/sweatshirt
- water bottle/gatorade
- granola or protein bars
- other snacks & food
- maps and phone numbers plus information about the hotel and club location
- passport (depending on age and where you're going)
- extra shoelaces
- extra grips
- squash balls (in case you get a chance to practice on the courts)
- bandaids/sports tape (black if possible)
- 4+ headbands/wristbands
- advil/ibuprofen/allergy pills/asthma puffers
- bobby pins (I've seen a lot of girls have hair malfunctions which have interfered with their game)
- daily hygiene products
Nice To Have Items:
- power gels
- foam roller
- a towel
- plastic bag/something to put sweaty/dirty clothes in
- a watch/heart rate monitor
- skipping rope (some people use to warm up)
- extra pair of shoes (if you don't have time for your other pair to dry between matches or if your first pair falls apart)
- extra pair of eye guards
- ipod (something to listen to music to while you warm up)
- cell phone (can film your matches with this)
- laptop/tablet (can also use to film your matches with and to watch movies and relax and unwind in the evenings)
- book to read of some homework!
It's also a good idea to make sure that your eye guards are approved for the event. In Canada for national events only certain types of eye guards are approved and some officials will check to make sure yours are on the list. If you wear prescription eye guards, sometimes these aren't allowed either and you will have to wear contacts or the iMask. Remember it's also not about just bringing this stuff to the tournament and leaving it at the hotel. You may have a situation where you need something in an emergency during your game so you should have the important items with you in your squash bag and by the court you are playing on.
Last thing. If you arrive before the tournament begins and can get a practice court you are one step better prepared for your first round match. This isn't always possible, so if it isn't then at least taking a look and getting to know the facility is helpful. Also know where you are travelling to is a key to proper planning. Maybe the weather is much warmer or cooler than where you are coming from. So you can practice with a slower or bouncier ball to prepare yourself. This may also mean you need to bring a winter clothing and leave early for the tournament. In many provinces in Canada the weather has a major impact on tournament travel. You'll also need to know how long it takes to get to the club from where you're staying, will there be any traffic, and so on. This is all about managing your tournament travel to allow yourself to play your best squash.
What other times am I missing from the above lists?