Managing Your Period at a Tournament

How often have you arrived at competition and realized you just started your period? Did you have all you needed, or did the stress of being with out the proper tools wear you down? Learning good habits which help support you during your period are a must for female athletes. Being prepared is key, but often we don't have a clue what we should be prepared for! Let's talk strategies and tools we can utilize so the day of competition is a little less painful. 

Get an app

Make sure you know when your period begins, and if it coincides with a tournament. By getting a period app on your phone, you will be able to track what time of month it comes, record your symptoms, and be better prepared for when it does arrive. Once you start using period apps, you will never go back. Over time, they learn how many days your cycle is, and will begin to predict the exact day your period begins. Learn more about tracking your cycle and the best phone apps to do the job on this LuchaFIT blog post.

Black spandex shorts

I highly recommend wearing or at least having an emergency pair of black spandex shorts to go under your singlet or competition shorts. If it comes to tournament day and you realize that your period is heavy, take the extra precaution and put on an extra layer. We never expect leaks, and they always happen when we are least prepared! Spandex shorts will be very discreet under competition wear, and using a black pair will help minimize stains as you use them on your period over time. The comfort of knowing you have a layer that protects you from leaking during a match is worth the extra effort of remembering a pair of shorts! 

A case for your necessities 

Sometimes, we don't want everyone to see when we take our period supplies with us to the bathroom. If that's the case, get a non-obvious case or bag that includes your period necessities, as well as extra supplies like underwear, spandex shorts, hand sanitizer, and a travel detergent packet. If you are 100% tampon kind of girl, it is beneficial to also keep panty liners or pads. It can be very difficult to remember to do a bathroom break as often as we should when we are in competition mode. Having panty liners to prevent leaks from getting worse, or as an extra layer if you know you wont be able to change your tampon before a leak happens. 

Schedule the Day

If you are someone who forgets how long its been since you've done a bathroom check, have a time schedule for when you will check or change. Make sure you set an alarm on your phone, go each time you've finished a match, or have a teammate remind you at intervals throughout the day. It can be such a challenge to balance the needs you have on competition day, let alone heading to the bathroom for just in case checks. 

If an Oops happens

If you can have a second uniform to wear, be sure to always bring that during your period. If thats not the case, bring travel size detergent to scrub the spot out in the sink and put it under the hand dryer in the bathroom. We've all been in dire situations, and sometimes you have to utilize what you have available to you! 

5 Items You Shouldn't Forget for Competition

For every sport competition, we have our typical packing list of must haves: uniform, food, water, lucky socks. But the more we compete, the more we find ourselves in situations where we didn't have what we needed. And even though we try and buffer for most situations, not everyone knows what to pack just in case. Here are the 5 items you should never forget to bring with you to a competition.

Athletic Tape

There are basic uses for tape that don't require you to become an athletic trainer. You can tape your fingers when they've been jammed, or for joint areas when you need extra support. Other than its intended purpose to tape injuries, the uses for athletic tape can be endless! It can be used for a headgear strap that broke and needs a quick repair, for shoe laces that cannot be loose, for your teammate who ripped their singlet strap, or to repair a broken hair tie when it was your last one! Athletic tape is useful due to its ability to be ripped into half its width. I'm sure you will find even more creative uses than I have!

The Emergency Kit

Your kit should include any medicines (cold medicines for overnight trips) or personal necessities you may need when you have a weekend at a competition. What is often overlooked are the things we think we can buy if we end up needing them, like feminine hygiene products. We never think our period will start during the middle of a tournament... and then it DOES! First thing in your kit should be extra underwear for that unexpected leak, or even for after the competition is over. Bring a variety of tampons, pads, and period underwear (it's the hot new thing, check out Thinx Panties). You never know what you will prefer on the day of competition, and you don't want to be without the options. Even if you've brought more than enough variety of feminine hygiene products for yourself, you'll always have a teammate who has forgotten her own supply. She most likely also didn't anticipate beginning her period on the day of the tournament!

Extra Tee Shirt

I was told years ago by a coach the importance of feeling fresh after the morning warm up before competition, and to always have new clothes to change into. Since then, I always have extras so I am not sitting around in my sweaty warm up clothing. At the very least, having an extra tee shirt to change into after the warm up will help give the mentality of further prepping and preparing to be fresh for competition. Anything that gives you a psychological edge over your competition is always a good thing. 

Rehydration Convenience

If you are depending on a coach or parent to get to a store and get the hydration you need, that might be your first mistake. Depending on others to provide what you know is best for you could result in you not having enough for the day, or ::gasp!:: the wrong type of drink entirely! Now that may sound sarcastic, but having proper hydration is critical. If someone bought the team Gatorade and you only like Powerade, becoming dehydrated helps no one. Be responsible for what you know you need and have it with you in travel packet form. This way it's conveniently always in your competition bag and you can easily mix it into water.

Massage Recovery Tools

Today we have much better understanding about how the body works and how to recover in between workouts. Competition is no exception. After sitting in a gym all day, re-warming up in between matches, and wrestling multiple times in a day, it's important to help those aches and pains. There are a lot of tools you can utilize, but I have a few favorites that work best. A mini travel foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball to roll out tight areas and knots, or a massage stick roller are amazing products. You can see me hauling almost all my massage tools to each competition. See below for my favorites!

Choosing Underwear for Female Wrestlers

As combat athletes and especially wrestlers, we face a very different set of challenges when it comes to choosing our workout gear. Being in tight fitting leggings, shorts, or competition singlets requires us to look at our undergarments from a different perspective. Gone are the days where we can wear our favorite lucky neon pink undies for competition... especially if we appreciate some modesty. When it comes to wearing spandex, we have to know how "sheer is our gear" before we get into a stance. I have had my fair share of undergarment faux pas, at practices and competitions. Here are my recommendations to help you navigate the world of sport and underwear!

Color

Look for underwear that is the closest to your skin color. Trying to match the color of your underwear to the color of what you are wearing will not always prove successful. Spandex is skin tight and you don't want to differentiate your underwear from your skin. This would be like giving someone x-ray vision to what you are wearing! Unfortunately, the underwear market isn't as diverse as it needs to be to fit all skin colors. You may have to do some digging, but once you find underwear that works for you, ask the company to provide more skin tones. Most likely you're not the only one looking for that product! 

Seamless Thong, Briefs or Bikini 

Stick to the underwear cut that is most comfortable for you. By finding underwear that has a seamless style, you wont have to resort strictly to a thong in order to prevent underwear lines. Briefs or hipster style will cut lower along the hips than a bikini style, which helps with the "no see" look. A thong can be ideal if you often are dealing with adjusting your underwear during practice or competition. However, never purchase a string thong as it has a thick seamed side and will be seen through spandex. Be sure to find a thong with a wider side, and avoid lace on any kind of underwear you choose. Below are some examples of seamless underwear. 

Sweat and Moisture Wicking Fabrics 

It is important to not wear cotton underwear for workouts and competition. Conventional thought told us that because cotton is absorbent, it would be the best material when sweating. However we have learned while cotton may absorb, it doesn't wick the moisture away from the body. This means moisture stays close to the skin, which increases bacteria and may lead to an increased risk of yeast infections. Choose breathable fabrics specifically designed for sport: combinations of microfiber, polyester, nylon, or spandex. The other advantage to sweat wicking fabrics are their convenience to wash and quickly dry if you have any accidental leaks during your period.

Spandex shorts

Your other alternative for practice and competition is wearing black spandex shorts underneath your singlet or workout gear. Now you can wear those lucky neon pink panties and not worry about them showing through! Spandex shorts are thicker underneath your gear, so be sure to find ones that are light and do not bunch as your move. They should have similar properties to the underwear you choose: moisture wicking and breathable.

Whatever undergarments you choose, make sure to have a trusted girlfriend do the "stance check." Can they see your undergarments through your spandex? Underwear isn't something we often discuss, but so many girls have questions about! Bring me all your questions about this topic if you want to see me write more on this subject! 

 


5 Things to Consider When Reviewing Your Competition Performance

1. How well did you prepare

Hindsight is 20/20. Most of the time, we can't tell how well we have prepared for a competition until we have gone through the preparation and competition process. But with experience, you can get better at recognizing what works and what doesn't and become more self aware of when you are on or off the right track. Taking actual steps towards becoming more self aware is extremely important. If you don't already have a sport journal, GET ONE. Recording progress, workouts, results, thoughts, and feelings are so important in the steps of becoming more self aware. You'll find out how beneficial it is to have a written record of how and what you did to prepare.

Record in your journal:

What were you doing a few days out, weeks out, months out?

How does this differ from past competitions?

What did your taper for competition look like?

What did you do the day before competition?

What did you do on the day of competition?

What did you eat/drink on competition day or leading up to competition day?

How well did you warm-up and cool down?

Where was your focus? 

2. What does your support system look like

It is important to surround yourself with people who support the way you train, and can help you reach your goals. A support system can consist of many people, or just a few. Communication is key when it comes to a coach/athlete relationship, as well as athlete/family relationships. If your needs are not being heard by coaches or family, it is time to address those needs. Especially if it is negatively affecting your competition preparation and results. Make sure you use the best possible way to communicate your needs to those within your support system. As you become more self-aware, those around you will be able to support that growth as you evolve as an athlete. Do you have a coach who is refusing to recognize those needs? If different forms of civil conversation is not reaching them, it could be time to think about if they are helping or harming your future growth as an athlete.

Record in your journal:

Who is my support system?

What kinds of things do I need to feel supported? 

3. Sports psychology: what did you notice during the competition

When you analyze your performance, it is important to first be nice to yourself. Don't fall into the trap of beating yourself up because you made mistakes you thought could be avoided. You are doing something brave, something most people do not dare do by accepting the challenge of being a competitor. You have honored your competition by showing up and doing your best. Let's get the self pity and self ridicule out of the way so we can really make improvements. PHEW. Remember, thoughts are just thoughts. They don't predict the future and they don't predict how well you will perform.

Record in your journal:

Can you remember emotions that came up?

Thoughts you noticed when you went to bed, when you woke up, before you competed, during, and after?

How often were you able to let thoughts of self doubt come, go, and bring your focus back to the moment you were in?

How often did you get hooked on a thought? What were those thoughts?

What can you do to bring your focus back to the present moment starting from the night before, until competition ends?

4. Where did you make improvements

Your improvements are important because it helps an athlete move past the pity party of focusing on the negatives. This is about changing the narrative, and becoming consistent with your emotions. Learning how to handle adversities, as well as exciting victories, are important so that you can consistently review yourself in the same manner. 

Record in your journal:

 What is your takeaway from this competition? 

Were you able to recognize a mistake and redirect your focus? 

Three things you can improved on, however small

5. How consistent were you?

Do not mistake this question for, "how perfect were you?" Consistency is about creating an environment around your training and competition prep that becomes more accurate. To learn how to have a rhythm that you utilize to help you prepare. Consistency doesn't refer to perfection in the slightest, instead, it refers to being organized and being flexible. Its actual synonyms are "limberness" and "hardness." Can one word encompass more awesomeness than that? Its about being tough with what you need to do, but also being okay with change. Creating consistency comes with experience, and learning about what you should and shouldn't compromise in order to be ready for a tournament becomes key. 

Record in your journal:

Where I am I consistent?

Where am I not being consistent that is preventing me from being properly prepared for competition?

My ideal competition prep routine


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Adjusting to Change: New Coach

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We are speeding into summer, and for many athletes that means camps, traveling teams, advanced training, larger competitions, and even trying a whole new sport. And with these amazing opportunities, will be exposure to many new coaches. For some of you, this could mean a completely different style of training and coaching than you're used to. This is your opportunity to learn how to be prepared for a new coach and a new style.

This is applied to athletes at all levels and age groups. Don't rule yourself out because you are not at a high level of competition yet. These skills can be applied early on in your life so you learn how to adapt to anyone of authority (job, career, etc) or anyone who is leading a team you are part of.

I learned about exposing myself to different coaches and different styles from my dad. He saw the importance of learning from others, and showing respect first. He also knew that throughout my career as a professional athlete, I would need to learn to adapt to a new coach, quickly (hence, just a small sampling above of the different coaches I've worked with over the years!). Being flexible with change becomes very important when you must travel to a foreign country with a coach you've never worked with. I had to learn how to communicate well, and interpret information so it applied to my style. That doesn't mean I was completely immune to being stubborn. We all want to do things our way! I had to remember to humble myself first, in order to be open to receiving information. 

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Make sure you are being open minded. Getting out of your comfort zone is really important to grow as an athlete and as a person. Creativity is often found in the most uncomfortable of situations. I believe sport and being an athlete is like creating your own painter's canvas. The inspiration is around you, and you have to put in the work to create your own masterpiece. 

Be sure to have a conversation with your new coach if you are headed straight to a competition. Having a list of your strengths, favorite moves and positions, and cues you respond best to can be extremely helpful. A coach who is with you only for a short time may not have all the time or resources to scout every athlete on the trip. Make sure you advocate for yourself so they know what is important to you as you prepare for competition. 

Often enough, we have become comfortable to a particular structure and setting on our home turf. You may know your warm-up routine by heart, the drills performed, and even the cues your coach gives you personally. Now, you are out of your comfort zone. There are other athletes you've never seen before, drills you've never done, and a coach who is giving direction you may not understand. What if you don't click? 

 First, be introspective about your own situation. Ask yourself questions: 

Do you not like the coach because of their coaching style? Because they are challenging you? Are you influenced by a family member who is being resistant to you working with someone new? Make sure you question why you are feeling a certain way. 

Take cues from the athletes around you. Analyze and interpret their social cues about how they are working with that coach. Do your best not go back to the locker room and gossip or complain about how they are making your experience challenging. There are so many things you may not understand about their coaching style now, but it doesn't mean you wont have something very important to draw upon later in your athletic career, and in life. 

Sometimes, that coach is having a hard time knowing how they can reach you as an athlete. There is not a one size-fits-all approach for an coach/athlete connection. Often enough, the coach is trying to connect with the majority of athletes, which may not be a style you utilize or are comfortable with. 

How can you turn a difficult situation around? Can you be the one who reaches out and to talk with them about what works for you? Don't waist any coaching session. Go above and beyond to speak with a coach if that is what it takes to feel fulfilled. Setting expectations for yourself at a practice session can be invaluable. It can be as simple as coaching yourself to be open to new ideas, criticism, and a new way of someone explaining moves or positioning. 

Remember, if a coach or person of authority ever makes you feel uncomfortable, it is always best to communicate those feelings with someone you trust. It is never okay for someone to abuse their position of power. 

I want to hear about YOUR experiences where you have overcome situations where you were out of your comfort zone! 

And remember to subscribe and become a part of the LuchaFIT family so you never miss a blog post! You will get exciting new details on what is to come!! (COULD THERE BE A GIVEAWAY IN THE NEAR FUTURE...??) 

 

Katherine