How to Prepare for a Match on the Road

the day before game

How to Prepare for a Match on the Road

One of the best moments that comes when you get serious about a hobby is when you get to take it on the road. While racquetball courts look pretty uniform when you’re playing, the thrill of going to a new place and sharing the sport you love with tons of like-minded strangers is tough to beat.

But traveling adds potentially stressful wrinkles to your match preparation. Not only do you need to think about the day before game time, but you also need to consider the effects your trip can have on your body and the risk of forgetting the equipment you will need to compete.

So what should you do to prepare for a trip, where should you plan to stay, and what do you need to do to make sure your body is ready to perform on the court?

Getting Ready for the Journey

The key to reducing travel stress is preparation. If you know when you’ll be playing and where you can take some of the biggest stressors of traveling for competition off the table before you even start packing.

Reserving a Room

Whether you’re taking a plane, riding a bus, or driving yourself, your travel arrangements should allow you time to relax before you need to play. Be sure you have your hotel room reserved (preferably as near to your competition venue as possible) with at least one full night before your competition. There’s no need to run straight from the airport to the racquetball court.

And remember, the more time you are able to give yourself in the city you’re visiting, the more time you have to check out interesting spots and absorb the local atmosphere without feeling like you need to rush around.

Packing Tips

Packing for a long drive is very different from packing for a flight. If you are driving yourself to your destination, you don’t have to worry about weight limits and additional baggage charges. But figuring out what to pack for a flight is a bit more complex.

It would be lovely if all you had to do was throw your gear into a sports duffel bag and hop on your plane, but that is simply not how things work. Instead, much like arranging your hotel, you need to engage in some advance planning.

First, when you know how long your trip will be, set out your clothing by the outfit to ensure you have something to wear every day. If your competition will involve playing for more than one day, be sure to bring more than one set of playing clothes.

Second, decide how you will bring your equipment. Do you have a carry-on that can hold your racquets, eye protection, and racquetballs? Is it large enough to also hold your shoes and on-court clothing, and a Dopp kit for cleaning up after your match? 

If so, bring that on the plane with you and check your suitcase with your street clothes and other travel necessities— making sure any liquids in your carry-on meet quantity limits established by the TSA. 

If you do not have a hard case for your equipment, don’t check it. Accidents can happen when suitcases are being loaded on and off a plane, and you don’t want to get to your destination to find a broken racquet.

Finally, consider the length of your flight. If you are taking a long flight, you may want to bring along a travel pillow and blanket set so that you can sleep reasonably comfortably on the plane.

And if you are making an international trip, be aware of a few things to prepare for travel abroad. Read up on the electrical outlets of your destination so that your device charger can actually be used to charge your personal electronics.

Getting Ready for the Game

When you begin looking at how to prepare for match day in a different city, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that you will want to plan ahead more than you might when at home because you don’t have access to your own kitchen, and you are playing at a facility that is largely unfamiliar to you.

So, in the same way you planned ahead for your travel arrangements, you’ll want to plan out your game day routine. This includes what to eat, physical preparation, and what to bring with you from the hotel to the match venue.

Fueling Your Game

One of the best parts of travel is sampling local cuisine, but when you’re on the road to play racquetball, you need to be more deliberate about when you go out for a huge, decadent meal. You may already prepare a stomach for travel on the plane, but you also need to prepare a meal plan after your arrival.

The important things to remember about nutrition and racquetball are that you want lots of complex carbs before the game for energy and proteins afterward for recovery. 

That doesn’t mean that you should be wolfing down a plate of spaghetti right before you go on the court, though. You’ll want to consume those carbs the night before to give them time to digest and go where they need to be in your body to provide you with the energy to play at the top of your game.

About four hours before your game, you’ll want to eat a 1,000 calorie meal consisting of lighter foods. Heavy, difficult to digest, or overly sugary foods will stick around longer than you want and feel funny sloshing around in your stomach as you play.

If your hotel doesn’t have food services that can accommodate that kind of meal and there aren’t nearby restaurants that can give that to you, or if you play too early in the morning for a four-hour preparation cycle, that’s ok.

A smoothie about an hour before game time is a good substitute. Something simple and light is what you need. Keep it to about 300-400 calories, and you’ll be in great shape for the game.

During your matches, drink water and sports drinks with electrolytes to stay hydrated and maintain good levels of vitamins and minerals for sports performance.

When you’ve finished playing, hit those local spots for high-protein meals to help your muscles recover from their exertion. And then have fun eating on the rest of your trip!

Physical Preparation

The best way to get ready for the physical demands of a match on the road is to stay ready. That means expanding your workout routine beyond only racquetball. During your normal week, alternate between strength and flexibility training to keep yourself in your best shape.

By maintaining your strength and flexibility and by figuring out solid warmup and cool down routines, you can stretch the stresses of travel off fairly quickly once you’ve reached your destination, and you’ll know exactly how much time you will need before and after your matches to get yourself prepared to play as well as you are able.

Your pre match preparation should consist of stretches and exercises that you can do anywhere, combined with some on-the-court drills that you can run before you and your opponent rally for serve. 

By creating a consistent routine that works for your body, you can be ready to give your best no matter what city, country, or racquetball court you’re standing in.

The Things You’ll Carry

The day before game time, you’ll want to check your gym bag to be sure that you’ll have everything you’ll need for your match or matches.

That means making sure your racquets’ strings are at the tension you prefer, your eye protection is in good condition, your court shoes are in good shape, and your match day outfit is clean and ready to go. 

You’ll also want to make sure that you have what you need to take a shower and clean up after you’re done and that your bag has room for any vitamins for sports performance that your doctor has recommended you take.

One thing that may be helpful for you to bring along if you will be playing several times throughout the day is a cooling towel. Some facilities that host racquetball can get very hot, and it doesn’t hurt to have something available to help you keep from overheating.

And if you’ve traveled to play outdoor racquetball, the chances are good that you will be playing in a very hot and/or humid environment. So having a neck cooling towel can be an absolute godsend.

The World is Waiting for You

Racquetball is a sport with players and tournaments all over the world. Many professional racquetball events even feature side tournaments for amateur players of all experience levels— including tournament brackets for youth players.

While the day before games on the road is a little different than the lead-up to a tournament on your home court, by following these tips, you can bring your best self to these out-of-town matches.

So don’t be afraid! Bring your love of the sport with you and see how many like-minded people there are out there. Make new friends, see new places, eat new things, and show your stuff on the court!

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