Preparing for Nationals

Preparing for a national tournament takes focus, and if you have more than one major tournament each year, you will have to have a good training plan. A training plan is comprised of phases that take you through increases and decreases in volume and intensity to help an athlete peak their conditioning. Each phase below is about two weeks, but allows you to customize the time. As individualized as preparing for a national tournament is, following a general principle helps create a rhythm your body can follow. Push past comfort zones to create physical and mental changes, build on those changes, and then recover for competition. This brief overview gives you the flexibility to work within your time frame to prepare you to compete at your best.

4-5 weeks out

Starting four to five weeks away from the competition, the training volume needs to increase. Repetitions in the weight room should be 8-10, and you should have a difficult time completing the last reps. Your runs or conditioning workouts should be longer, and occur 2-3 times per week. Conditioning in this phase is very important in order to create physiological changes and to increase intensity. Aim to better your times and use the clock as a way to challenge yourself, especially when working out on your own. This is often common, as national competitions are post-season and not everyone continues towards this endeavor. Wrestling room workouts should consist of longer combat goes, and a lot of focus on individual areas. This is the time to add in the extra repetitions and drills after practice. Make sure you have a plan of action for offense, defense, and on the mat wrestling. I recommend 2 techniques or positions to highlight in each area. You will be fatigued during this phase, so its important to be pushing fluids and eating right. Athletes are often more susceptible to illness and injury during this time due to the consistent breaking down of muscle tissues. Listen to your body and adjust as needed. 

2-3 weeks out

All workouts should begin tapering down in volume. Runs should be shorter, no more than 15 minutes. Focus on intervals and even short sprint workouts. In the weight room, reps should be 4-6 and focus on increasing strength and power. When you get to the wrestling room for training, it's time to treat each live go as if you are in competition. Keep score. Put yourself in the national finals mentally and make the match go your way. Practice should be hard and every drill you execute is a reflection of how you will make it happen at nationals. Technique focus areas should still be worked on, but be sure to have these areas built into drilling time. Extra work should be short and sweet. Since you are reducing volume, this is not the time to spend an extra hour after practices working on focus areas. Increase your recovery: cold or hot tub, icing, stretching, mental recovery, plenty of water (you should be pushing the water constantly in this phase) and good fueling foods. 

1 week out

When you get to that week before competition, be confident in the hard work you've put in. It's time to rest and put the finishing touches on your preparation. Your running pace should decrease, and little if any work in the weight room needs to occur. In the wrestling room, practices should be around an hour and focus on active movement, technique, and drills. In the beginning of the week, short (30 seconds- 1 minute) live goes will keep you sharp and ready. If you have weight to manage, be sure that you are drinking plenty of water up to 24 hour hours before weigh-ins. If you need further support, speak with your coach or make a plan with a nutritionist well in advance so weight is not an issue. Create a plan so you have the snacks you need for competition, your gear, and a journal to record your experiences. If you are traveling to competition, make sure you have your gear in your carry on. Get excited to compete!