For athletes, there’s always another competition right around the corner. Whether it’s a swim meet, a gymnastics meet, a soccer tourney, or a downhill comp, it’s best to be organized! From our friend Char at Sports Girls Play, here’s a list of 10 essential things to take to any youth sporting event, from swim meets, gymnastics meets, track competitions, volleyball games, you name it!
1. UNIFORM – Every sport has a competition uniform of some sort. For a swimmer, it may be just a team suit. For a gymnast, it is her team leotard, warm ups, white socks, white tennis shoes and her gym bag. Whatever your sport, be sure you have the team uniform clean and ready to go a few days in advance.
2. INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT - These are the little extras you may need at a meet like gymnastics grips, or goggles and a cap for swimmers, tennis racquet for a tennis player, or spikes for a sprinter. Whatever it may be, make sure it is packed in advance and if you have spares, be sure to bring them. If you don’t, I highly recommend picking up an extra in case something is broken, misplaced or just doesn’t feel right on competition day.
3. EXTRA T-SHIRT or CHANGE OF CLOTHES – After each gymnastics meet, my daughter’s team likes to go out to eat. We always pack a spare set of clothes so I don’t have to stress at meal time about her getting ketchup on her $100 team jacket or leotard. Many competitions sell meet shirts or have a pro shop on hand in the event you forget, but unless you have specifically budgeted for that extra expense, it is better to pack a change ahead of time.
4. HEALTHY SNACKS – Depending on the length and type of competition, you most likely need to pack some healthy snacks for your athlete. Only you know what works best for you, but here is a list of healthy mini meals that should give you some good ideas.
5. WATER – It is so important for athletes to stay hydrated! If your event is outdoors and long (like an outdoor swim meet, track meet, field hockey game), you will need 3-4 oz of cold water every 15 minutes or so. Just how much water does an athlete need? Dr. Johnson (aka TrackMom) shares her guidelines here.
6. DOWNTIME ACTIVITIES – For the ride in the car or while waiting between events, take cards, travel games, pencil activities, good books, or handheld electronics to keep busy. If siblings are going to watch the competition, these items are a must!!
7. COMFY SEATING – Some venues will have bleachers and some may not. I recommend keeping a lawn chair, blanket or a bleacher cushion in your vehicle in case you need it.
8. DIRECTIONS – You laugh! I can’t tell you how many last minute phone calls I get as a coach from parents who didn’t print out the directions to the venue or did not leave adequate time to get there. Do not rely solely on Google maps or your GPS as they are not always 100% accurate. Check the venue’s written directions against the others just to be sure. Allow adequate time to get to the venue – better to be early than late.
9. EMERGENCY KIT – I have a red envelope bag that goes with me to every competition. The bag contains pain reliever (adult and child), bandaids, nail polish remover (because gymnasts may not wear nail polish at meets and invariably someone always does), and other essentials (see the complete contents of my emergency bag)
10. POSITIVE ATTITUDE – Your performance is often influenced by the attitude, stress levels, and general demeanor of those around you. Remember sports are supposed to be a fun, healthy, life-skill building activity. Parents are not the ones performing; their job is to get the athlete to and from the competition safely, prepared, and fed. Parents should set realistic expectations and then sit back, cheer, and let their kids do their best.
So, what did I forget? What else do you need to take to a competition or meet? Join the conversation and let me know. Coaches feel free to share this list with your parents and athletes!