23 Things to Consider in Preparation for a Competition

For most of you, the competition phase has begun and with that is competition planning. The importance of training like you want to perform really hit me today as I was training for the marathon I am competing in this June.

Today, I wore a tank top and changed my deodorant.  Seems inconsequential, but in just a 6km run I chaffed.  Was it the tank top alone or the combination with the deodorant?  All I know was that it was uncomfortable and I could not imagine running like that for over 40km.

This post is a lesson in planning ahead.

Here are some things you should consider about competitions:

1.  Do your swimmers drink enough water at practice? Can they tolerate drinking water at practice?  If they do not drink enough water you should consider scheduling mandatory water breaks. For every 1-2lbs lost of water weight there is a loss of 20-30% in performance.

2.  Practice your competition warm-up.  This includes dynamic warm-ups, swim warm-ups, figure warm-ups and routine warm-ups.  You need to do this because you may find the swimmers are not warmed up enough for some events or perhaps they are too tired from the warm-up.  You are always striving for the ideal performance state (IPS)

3.  Where do your sections start for routine in a competition warm-up?  Do your swimmers know how many times per part? Who is counting the sections above the water and under water?  The more you can tell the swimmer beforehand the less stress there will be for everyone at competition.

4.  Do your swimmers know the competition plan? I like to send out the competition plan to older swimmers a few weeks before the competition.  At this point they can give input to the schedule.  If they say nothing they cannot complain later.

5. Can your swimmers handle food at a competition?  Often supper time shows up in the middle of a team event.  Swimmers get nervous about eating too close before they swim, but sometimes they swim too hungry and cannot focus.

6.  Practice recovery strategies at practice.  This includes light stretching, nutrition, water, cool downs, massage, or other techniques you have for recovery.

7.  Practice the walk-on and swim-offs prior to arriving at the competition.

8.  Have a parent meeting 1-2 weeks before the competition to give the parents a refresher on your expectations as well as roles for the chaperones if you have any.

9. Are you going to bring a first aid kit to the competition?  Better start packing one if you are.

10.  Put your music on a back up CD AND a mp3 device.

11.  Are you going to video tape your music practice time at the competition?  If you are recruit a parent volunteer and train them in what you want prior to leaving for the competition.

12.  Get the swim order for your competition music practice figured out ahead of time. Sometimes you will notice some swimmers may have full swim throughs back to back. Maybe you want to just do halves.  Consider finding a club to share spacing time with to help alleviate the back to back swims.

13. Test your competitions suit at home.  You hate to find out during the competition that a suit is see through.

14.  Test out the swimmers hair gelling ability.  Maybe at a club water show consider having swimmers gel.  You also find out how long it actually takes them to do hair and make-up.

15.  Read the FINA manual and your countries rulebook.  Do you know how to appeal a decision?  It’s all in the rulebook or should be.  It’s also a good idea to double check routine times.

16.  Bring a judge to practice for routines and figures.  This will help the swimmers become more comfortable swimming in front of the judges.

17. Consider if you are going to do a full taper for the competition.  I found the first competition of the year seems to be right after a break and the team is still getting back in shape.

18.  Who is going to be the alternate for routine?  I hope you already went over this with your swimmers and parents in the fall.

19. What is the temperature of the pool you are going to compete at?  You may need to recreate this for your swimmers.  It is hard to swim in the opposite water you are used to.

20.  Make your competition plan as specific as possible.  Include fill up water bottle times, nutrition breaks, meal times, coach recovery times, coaches meets, times to cheer other members of your club, transportation times, land drill times, daily team meeting.

21.  Practice things that could go wrong at the competition.  Music too quiet, someone gets hurt, your late (does the team know what to do).

22.  Train lap one from the dive in.

23. Train without goggles.

“The quality of your practice determines the caliber of your performance.”

– Robin Sharma

If you want to have your swimmers competing at their best make sure they are training for it.  That means the coach needs to be planning for it.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” 
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Never have the swimmers do something at a competition that you have not asked them to do at practice.  Sometimes it cannot be avoided, but with proper planning you can capture most things.

Do not leave a competition to chance.  It may work, but it may back fire too.  I can tell you that I will test out everything I plan to do on my marathon race day. Plan for success.

Share your tips for preparing for a competition on my Facebook page.


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