Tournament Training: The Last Minute Check-In

0 Posted by - June 7, 2023 - Tournaments, Training, Wisdom

It’s tournament season. Are you ready for your next martial arts competition?

If your answer was anything less than an enthusiastic “YES,” this blog is for you. 

We’ve put together this template to help you organize everything you’ll need in the days leading up to a tournament, from gear, to logistics, to your mindset. This should hopefully take some of the stress out of last minute martial arts tournament preparation. All you need to do is make your list, check it twice, and then relax and focus on doing your best.

(And if you’re still a few weeks out from competition, you can always check out our tournament training tips to help you with your longer range prep.)


Timing: 1 week out

What to do:

  • finish tapering your training
  • rest

Whether you’re working with a coach/instructor or following your own plan, you’ll already know what you should be doing at this point in your tournament training. Your only job now is to stick to the plan. Really stick to it. No sneaking a last-minute sparring session or extra cross-training workout into your schedule.

The last week before competition can feel a little weird, especially if you’re new to tournaments. If things are progressing well, you probably want to keep going. If your prep isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, you might find yourself wanting to keep pushing until you hit a breakthrough. But progress and growth take time. Nothing you do in sparring or workouts this late in the game can make a meaningful impact on your results. All those sessions are going to do is wear you down, make you lose focus, and put you at greater risk of injury. The best thing that your mind and body can do now is to make sure they’re well rested and ready to go on the big day. 


Timing: 2-5 days out

What to do:

  • confirm your travel plans to and from the tournament venue (and lodging if you’re staying out of town)
  • make sure your tournament registration is all in place (or that you have the proper information and funds in place if you’re singing up at the venue)
  • confirm any arrangements for children, pets, or house-sitting you might need
  • take an inventory of all of the gear you’ll need for competition
  • do any laundry and repairs necessary to make sure your gear is clean and ready to go
  • buy any snacks you plan to take wth you
  • prepare any homemade snacks you want to take, too
  • make sure there’s room on your phone for tournament day photos and videos
  • go over the tournament rules (optional)
  • rest

Now’s the time to make sure that you have everything you need to get you to and from the tournament venue—and everything you’ll need to compete and stay properly fuelled while you’re there. You can also take one final scan of the tournament’s rules if that helps you get your head in the game.

Taking care of logistics a few days before serves two purposes. First, it ensures that you’ll actually be able to make it to the tournament. But it also takes away some of the stress and mental energy involved in planning and allows you to direct your focus to the competition itself. 


Timing: 1-3 days out for gear and non-perishable snacks and beverages, tournament morning for the rest of your food and drinks

What to pack: 

Pack everything you need for the actual competition component of the tournament first. Then add everything you need to stay comfortable, well-hydrated, fed, safe, and clean while you’re at the venue. Finally, add any little extras that will help you have the best day possible, like a camera to capture some memories or a sentimental item that inspires you. 


Timing: from now until tournament day, or as needed

What to do:

  • relax 
  • don’t beat yourself up
  • have fun

If you’re excited about your martial arts tournament, or if you thrive under pressure, you can probably skip this step. You’re already ready to go!

But if you’re anxious or prone to perfectionism, this check in is probably going to be useful for you. Remember, a tournament is just one moment in your life. It doesn’t say anything about your value as a person, or as a martial artist. It simply tells you where you are in your own martial arts training when you come head to hear with your peers at a specific moment in time.

If you win, that’s great! It’s a cause for celebration and pride. But if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped, that’s not the end of the world. It’s a learning experience. There will be other tournaments if you want to them. And there will always be room to learn more and improve. 

Relax. Have fun. Be proud of yourself regardless of the results. And don’t forget to support your teammates, too!