Preparing for battle

Perhaps you’ve recently taken up gymnastics and you’d like to a have a go at your first competition?

Well there is absolutely no doubt that training and competitions can be stressful, not just physically but also mentally. So here are a just a few of my top tips that i use on a daily basis to help make my transition from training to competition as successful as possible.

Everybody has heard the saying, 'The coach knows best' but I firmly believe there is truth behind this. So six to eight weeks prior to the competition, have a meeting to discuss your training programme with your coach in order for you to reach peak condition at the right time. The coach will help guide you through different training phases and modify the level of intensity at each session. This process will leave you with a day to day plan of action to keep you on track.

Having a structured, consistent recovery plan for after training is of upmost importance, not only will it help reduce DOMS but will furthermore allow for productive and higher intensity training in the following days. Whether it be protein shakes, foam rolling, ice baths, deep tissue massages, wearing compression garments or simply stretching make sure you trial and error all areas so that you know which benefits your body the most.

Gymnastics puts your body through a lot of stress, especially on those days when the mind and body are feeling tired. Making sure that you don’t over train and knowing your bodies limits will help you to reduce the chances of those small niggles and injuries.

Athletes have a habit of predominantly training the muscle groups that they are naturally better or stronger at. As much as this is making that particular muscle group stronger it’s also making other areas weaker and could cause injury due to muscular imbalance. Make sure your personalised programme covers exercises for the whole body, not just for the mirror muscles.

On competition day, you need to stick to what you know! This can relate to anything from the amount of hours sleep to the type of food you eat beforehand. The chances are the body will already be feeling stressed so putting unwanted changes in place could have a detrimental effect on performance.

Fueling the body with the right type of food is key to finding that extra 1%. Breakfast the morning of the competition should consist of a slow sustained release of energy such as porridge. During the competition, nerves will be taking over so perhaps try a liquid based source of energy such as smoothies, flavoured milk or yogurts. This will help to provide energy but won’t make you you feel bloated or heavy.

Following the competition it’s important to recover your body effectively to help repair any damaged tissue that you may have sustained during the day, try a high fibre source of carbohydrate with some lean meat and of course plenty of vegetables or salad.

Last of all my advice is to simply enjoy it, all the hard work has been done prior to competition day so going in feeling confident and relaxed will help to reduce the nerves. Try listening to music to help keep those nerves at bay and use the the added level of adrenaline to your advantage.

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