how to navigate your first tournament
Tournament food has a lot to do with preference, but the one thing that matters most is portion size. You are not going to want to eat a sub between your matches, plan on eating handfuls of food, frequently. Fruits, nuts, energy bars, and granola make excellent snacks that give you instant energy. At one point in the day, you may want a sandwich. Any lunch-meat, or other protein is advised. As for condiments, mayonnaise has an ill effect on a number of people; use caution with the mayo, especially in high heat scenarios.
Most of our teams have a "training table" - everyone brings something to share. For example, assign one player to bring the following: bread, condiments, lunch meats, water/cooler/ice, pasta salad, fruit, jerky, bagels/cream cheese, etc
Our parent reps should assign these for each tournament.
Water, water, water - bring plenty of it. If you bring it by the liter or larger, it will be helpful to have a 20oz. plastic water bottle/tumbler to bring with you to the court when you play. Just as important as water, is salt, or Gatorade. Salt is what fires the water into your muscles and keeps you from cramping. Cramping is directly related to hydration. There are lots of home remedies for cramping, but I can only speak for one, that I know works. Always carry a jar of pickles in your cooler. It doesn't even matter if you don't like them. If you cramp, and you take a couple pulls of pickle juice, you will become an instant fan. I've seen people eat a pickle regularly throughout the day as preventative maintenance - it works. So remember, lots of water and a salt (sodium) source if you want to make it all day and remain healthy.
Sometimes you have a long walk from the parking lot to the courts. A nice cooler with wheels and a long handle is dual purpose if you have a couple bungee cords or ratchet straps. If you have either of those, you can strap your shade tent, chair, and gear bag to the top of the cooler and wheel it along almost effortlessly. If you are a minimalist, soft coolers are light weight and will keep everything cold as long as you can keep it out of the sun.
There are not many sources of natural shade, so you are going to want to plan for some shade. A very common solution are the 10'x10' pop-up shade tents. While very common at our tournaments, real estate under them is scarce. If players do not own one, they usually coordinate ahead of time with someone that does. They start at approximately $70 and go up in price. If you are looking to find them at the best price, most places put them on sale at the end of the summer. If you purchase a shade tent, or already own one, wind can put an end to your tent. So plan ahead!
CHAIR OR BLANKET
When you are not playing or working, you are going to want to relax. Sitting on the ground with nothing between you and the ground gets old, fast.
A small well packed gear bag is essential. Make sure you bring any braces/supports that you normally play with. If you are a sweater, a change of clothes and socks will keep you dry and comfortable. Bring a towel. You will use this more than you think. Pack all uniforms - every jersey, extra spandex, extra socks, hair ties, tampons, etc. Double check your bag. Really. Can't count how many times our coaches have coached in bare feet because they gave their shoes to a player.
A little extra cash might come in handy.
Your tournament will begin at 8 am usually. Sometimes later, so be sure to check our website for start times. The tournament ends when it ends. We never have an exact time. Could be 2 pm, could be 11 pm. It really depends on the tournament and format.
Most tournaments begin with POOL PLAY. Pool play is a round robin style format with 3 to 5 other teams. From there teams go into play offs. Sometimes single elimination, sometimes double. Most tournaments have the format online or posted at the site.
LEAVING THE SITE
Players are not allowed to leave the playing site ever. Parents can leave anytime to pick up what they need and bring it back.
Every team will ref a few times during the day. Plan refueling and rehydrating around reffing times. Be sure to know how to keep score before your first tournament. Scoring tutorial is located on our website.
Players may not leave the tournament until the entire team is dismissed by the coach.