By Micah Caputo
Based on experience at the 2011 Pan Ams.
Plan ahead. Don’t change plans at the last minute.
Don’t be a lone wolf. Get with your team and plan together.
If you will be sleeping on a floor get a sleeping bag.
The entire morning should be preparation for competition.
There are lots of distractions at the tournament. There are matches and teammates to watch and people to meet and old friends and celebrities and food. Don’t let those things distract you. Get in the zone. Be selfish about getting in the zone. An old friend and training partner I ran into told me we could talk after his match, not before. That is ok. Stay calm, centered, and focus on your match.
Make sure to warm up before being called to the bullpen you may not have time later.
Make sure you go to the bathroom before you go to the bullpen, you don’t want to be called while you are out and not hear the legendary DQ announcement over the intercom.
Locker rooms were open this year with working showers. The trick if you want a warm shower is to keep spinning the knob several rotations until it completely stops. This was great for us because we were sleeping on the mats at a friend’s school and were not getting showers otherwise.
Don’t forget your ID you will need it, probably more than once.
A good idea is to get a small bag or back pack to put your ID, water, mouth guard, and for me my glasses in so that you can carry it with you and be organized when it is time to go and not lose anything. You want it to be small though so you aren’t lugging all your stuff around.
Have a backup gi ready nearby.
You don’t want to find out that your gi is not regulation and then have to run all over the building or to your car trying to find a gi. You don’t have to carry it around, but you definitely need it nearby unless you are absolutely sure your gi is perfect. My gi got muddy from warming up outside in the grass. Fortunately my backup was handy and I changed before they could say anything.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Make sure your grip strength is solid.
We had at least one person on our team do each of these things wrong. Even if you are a white belt, you don’t want to be prepared like one. Prepare like a pro and you will improve your chances of success tenfold.