So, you’ve signed up for your first pickleball tournament: Congratulations! Do you feel prepared? Are you nervous? It’s okay. Everyone gets jitters leading up to a tournament, especially if it’s your first. In this article, we’ll discuss tips for preparing mentally and physically for pickleball tournaments.

How to Mentally Prepare for a Pickleball Tournament. 

The mental side of racket sports should not be underestimated – we see how the mental side comes into play in tennis, racquetball, and, of course, pickleball. Whether playing singles or doubles, it is easy to get into your head and mentally fall apart.

Here are our favorite ways to prepare for a pickleball tournament mentally:

  • Be Particular When Picking a Partner – When you’re playing doubles, it is important to find a partner that you get along with and who complements your playing style. When looking for a partner, find someone of similar playing level and skill, complementing playing style and personality, along with someone you generally, genuinely, get along with. It also is beneficial to have a partner you can openly communicate with both on and off the court.
  • Look Over the Tournament Rules – Each tournament is different in some way – parking, tournament fees, format, scoring, and rules. It’s important to get all the information weeks and days before the tournament begins so that you can call or email the tournament director with any questions you may have. With Covid-19 still present, it is important to familiarize yourself with the club and tournament rules and restrictions regarding their pandemic policies. Being aware of what is expected of you before the day of the tournament will help you put your mind at ease so that you can just show up and play pickleball.
  • Don’t Focus on Bringing Home a Medal ­– Yes, of course, it would be amazing to bring home a medal to display somewhere in your house but going in with that all-or-nothing mindset may not benefit you. It is best to stay present for each point, game, and pickleball match. Try your best to remain focused on winning the current point and celebrate each point. Have fun, stay positive, and enjoy the competition.

How to Physically Prepare for a Pickleball Tournament. 

When it comes to physical preparations for a tournament, it means a little bit more than simply getting on the court and slapping a ball around.

  • Hydration ­– Drinking water the day of a tournament will not keep you hydrated enough. Being probably hydrated starts days before. You don’t want to be out on court, in the middle of the match at high noon feeling tired, dizzy, and thirsty. Be sure to drink an adequate amount of water each day leading up to the tournament and bring enough water with you on court. The bottle we recommend in the Takeya 40oz. Great size, terrific quality and keeps your beverage cold. We also recommend some electrolyte mixes. I’m a cramper in tournaments and have found great success with the Jigsaw Health Electrolyte Supreme products.
  • Feed Yourself Well – Eating enough food, especially well-rounded meals, will help your muscles recover and give you energy. Make sure you start eating well-rounded meals in the weeks before your first match and the entire duration of the competition. Pack your bags with some healthy, energy-packed snacks so you have food with you on the court.
  • Practice – Prepare with your partner and work to understand each other in playing style and tactics. Learn how each of you communicates when you’re on court and find other double teams to practice against. Practice matches will help simulate a competitive environment. Another option is to check if your club or local rec center holds clinics to meet new people and work on different strategies and tactics.  To find pickleball courts near you, for extra practice time, see our court locator.

Make Your Pickleball Bag Tournament Ready

Make sure you bring items that you will need throughout a tournament. While the day will be longer than your casual clinic or Sunday round-robin, matches are also longer and more intense. While we will hope you will remember your paddle, shoes, and clothes, here are several other things to remember when packing your bag for a tournament:

  • Hat/Visor/Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Balls
  • Towels/Extra Clothes/Socks

It’s so exciting when you sign up for a pickleball tournament, especially if it’s one of your firsts. Prepare yourself mentally and physically with some of the things we have recommended, and you will be fighting fit for your first round. Enjoy the competitive environment, and good luck!