Staying Healthy on Road - How Best to Prepare for Out of State CompetitionParents of fencers often worry that they haven’t done enough to get ready for out of state competition, and even that lack of good prep is going to somehow lower the performance of their children. Rest assured that your child is going to be fine!

We travel with our kids to fencing tournaments a lot. There is a difference between traveling to the tournament with the kids versus going on vacation. While both types of trips should be fun, there are a lot of differences between them. The biggest difference is that on fencing trips you need a regime and discipline.

How to prepare for the road

When headed out on the road for competition, it’s important to prepare well and wisely. While you can never know for sure what exactly you’re going to need, you can be ready for most of what’s coming.

Take the essentials

What are the essentials? First off, you want to make a list well before you go and start to get it all together in one spot. That way you can weed out the non-essentials without getting rid of things you need.

  • Pack stuff that makes the kids comfortable – pajamas, traveling clothes, a blanket, inflatable pillows that smush down easily, etc.
  • Pack items that make you feel at home – coffee that you love,  a book or a movie to watch on a tablet. For some kids, especially younger kids, far flung competitions might be stressful, so it is always a good idea to bring a special item that they can feel comfortable with. It might be their favorite stuffed animal or blanket can help with their anxiety.
  • Pack items that make you relax – soothing music on your phone or iPod, great smelling lotions, etc.
  • Don’t overpack! Again, the key way to do this is to put it all in one place and look at it before you leave.

Copying with time difference

Staying fresh if you’re traveling far enough to have a time difference can be a big challenge, especially for kids.

  • Stay on the local time – resist the urge to stay on your time, pushing through at first will quickly reset your internal clock.
  • Sleep when traveling – use those comfort items like pillows and blankets to make it easier.
  • Create a routine of going to bed early and getting up early to get the body on a good schedule.
  • Take care of your body – hydrate, take a shower, etc.

Arrival and departure

Unless it’s absolutely impossible, plan to arrive at least 1 day before the start of competition and to depart on the next day after the last event. If you can, spend the last evening on something nice – in a museum, movie, park or nice restaurant. Regardless of how your child performed in the competition, going to fencing tournaments should be a great fun and remembered as such. That extra time you include will got a long way.

Manage diet

Food especially important, especially for younger fencers who might be very picky with their food (like mine).

  • Do not assume buying them there at venue or new city, even if most supermarkets around the country look the same. It’s not worth it in case it’s different!.
  • Take your most important snacks with you – dried fruits and nuts snacks that provide a great source of energy, vitamins, minerals and healthy sugar. This is especially true for those which you kid loves to eat during competitions.
  • Eat healthy – avoid greasy fast food, looking for lighter options instead. Of course the food that you’ll have available on the road isn’t as good as what you would have at home, but still steer clear of fries and burgers and the like.
  • New foods are a no-no – in any new place there is a tendency to want to try new local foods. While it is tempting, we recommend avoiding this prior to the competition. Choose a balanced and familiar diet until you’re done with the competition – then enjoy!

Stay Competition-minded

In tournaments kids are supposed to compete and perform, and that means eating well and establishing sleep routines. These food and sleep routines should be set up and then followed by parents and children. If on vacation kids can stay until late and nothing happens, then kids need to realize that that’s not how it happens when traveling for fencing competitions! On competition weekends, if the next day registration closes at 8am and kids need to be at venue by 7am, they cannot stay up until midnight. The same goes with food.

If you follow these steps then you’ll be able to feel even better about what you’ve prepared! Take the pressure off of yourself as a parent and get your child what they need to be healthy and strong on the road, so that they can do their absolute best, which is what we as parents are most interested in!

A quick note:

This post was inspired by a wonderful Youtube video from the Olympic organization, which you’ll find here. Miles Chamley-Watson of the American fencing team shares his valuable advice from the road. We’ve summarized some of his best points here, and added our own parental perspective as well in order to help parents of fencers prepare, which is markedly different than what an adult fencer like Miles is going to be doing!