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!

It's Nuun O'Clock: Hydration at it's Best

It can be so, so hard to stay hydrated sometimes! Especially if you live in drier climates (ahem, Colorado), it can feel nearly impossible. During high intensity training camps where the volume can mean wrestling 4+ hours a day, plus strength training and extra conditioning, I am usually seen lugging a gallon jug of water around. Not practical, but it does the job. Before this and after many lessons of being frustrated with pee the color of dead grass, I started working on ways to make sure that hydration was a thing of convenience. 

But first, lets talk about the not-so-obvious reasons you should stay hydrated and what helps keep you hydrated.


If you are someone who is not always focused on hydration, but focused on higher levels of protein intake, then woa nelly you better work on hydration as a priority. When you intake protein, you need seven times the amount of water normally needed in order to process those aminos. And this doesn't just include those of you who take protein supplements. If your day to day diet is high in protein, your hydration level will decrease as your protein level increases. The suggested dietary intake of fluids for active adults are 2.7 liters for women, and 3.7 liters for men. If you are not close to this amount and you already increased or are thinking about increasing your protein, maybe it's time to start carrying your own gallon jug of water. 

Salt and Potassium 

We talk about electrolytes ALL THE TIME. Have you seen that movie Idiocracy? In the movie, the world is getting dumber because no one is educated anymore. EVERYONE drinks "Brondo," (basically Gatorade) and when the main character asks for water, he gets the answer, "you mean from the toilet??" They can't grow anything because they keep watering the plants with Brondo. Their explanation: "Electrolytes! It's what they need!!" Now the plants certainly don't need electrolytes, but you do! And do we actually know what electrolytes are? It's the perfect happy couple combo called salt and potassium!

Now, how to apply the yin and yang of "S&P" benefits to hydration. If you have been drinking a lot of water, but have not been able to get out of the dead grass zone, you may want to look at what you are drinking AND eating. Salt and potassium combined help regulate fluid retention and are major contributors to the normal functioning of your cells, digestion, and organs. Both are lost through sweat and urination. That means, we need to continually focus on drinking fluids that contain both, as well as eating the right foods. It is extremely common for the average American to have low potassium. Salt on the other hand is not typically something we are worried about, as American diets are heavy in convenience foods, and salt is used as a preservative (check the labels on your foods and start seeing how many miligrams of salt are contained!) Potassium is found in fruits like bananas, citrus, and melons, and vegetables like leafy greens and broccoli. If those are all things you avoid, start getting out of your comfort zone! It is so so important to eat the right things as an athlete and for the rest of your life for normal body functioning! 

Whenever I travel internationally for competition and training, I would notice I had a hard time staying hydrated. It made staying hydrated for competition 10x more difficult as I was already dehydrated going in. I was advised to focus not only on my salt intake, but also my potassium. This was a real game changer in the way I traveled and was prepared for competition. I started focusing on foods rich in potassium, even going out of my way to grab a banana before a flight. I also started arming myself with the right hydration supplements. I wanted to find a supplement that was low in sugar, but higher in salt and potassium. Travel is difficult, so the easier I made the process to rehydrate, the better my chances became! 

Hydration Convenience and Nuun 

I love traveling light. The more I can streamline the tools I travel with, the less chance I leave something on the plane (and trust me, I've left too many things already on planes). Also the more streamlined, the more likely I will actually use the tools I bring! There was no way I was going to buy and bring an entire extra bottle of fluids on the plane, or lug that around while I'm traveling. That's expensive, time consuming, and risky if you cant find what you need in another state or country. 

I wanted something that could last me an entire trip, had the right kind of ingredients, and was small and convenient. That's where Nuun came in! Wow, when I found Nuun tablets, I knew I would get myself on a whole new level of hydration. They come in a tube with 10 tablets, and each one makes a 16oz sports drink. I don't know how many times I dealt with messy powder in a plastic bag that would rip and then I'd be out my hydration method! I love that I can plop a tablet in a cup of water while I'm on the airplane or have it in my bag on competition day or at the gym.  The flavors they come in are DELICIOUS, and the ingredient list does not have all the extra junk you do not need that show up in much more common hydration methods like Pedialyte and Gatorade. 

Here's the listed ingredients for Nuun:

  • Sodium: 360 mg.
  • Potassium: 100 mg.
  • Magnesium: 25 mg.
  • Calcium: 13 mg.
  • Vitamin C: 38 mg.
  • 10 calories.
  • 1 g of sugar.

Find the right method for yourself, but be aware of the many hydration options out there and why they may not be a good choice. It can be so easy to go towards mainstream products and brands you immediately recognize. Why choose Nuun over a product you know and you can grab at the gas station? Here's why: just as we've become more aware of what kinds of foods to put in our bodies, we can also cannot be ignorant about what kinds of sports drinks we consume. They are not all created equal. The big companies are not as worried about what kinds of sugars or additives are in their sports drinks. When you are consistently drinking high fructose corn syrup, dyes, additives, and flavoring, the rehydration benefits will not outweigh the nutrition losses. Why else do you think they taste so darn great?! Lots and lots of sugar! And in no way should you ever, EVER consumer sugary sports drinks as a normal daily beverage. 

The big lesson here, read the labels and start doing your research. Once I made it a habit of having healthy hydration methods always in my bag or along with me for the day, I started having a lot less problems. I found a huge improvement in the way I felt and in my digestion. Start looking at your hydration from both a food and drink perspective, and you'll start reaping the benefits! 


Insight into the Art of Preparation

Packing Your Bag for Competition Day

I love working on becoming more and more efficient with what I pack on competition day. Seriously guys, it thrills me! Clearly I'm a nerd, and everything pertaining to wrestling and competing is my jam! Competition day (and traveling to competition) are times where you want to pare down to your necessities and emergency extras. You don't want to have your competition bag filled with extra things you don't need, making it hard to find the things you do need!  

Preparation doesn't end when you leave the practice room. You must learn to be disciplined in more than one area, and that includes how you prep yourself for important events. How many times have you gotten to competition and are missing critical items? Being habitually messy in your personal life can effect how you handle different situations. This may seem like unimportant nuances, but getting to the next level is about paying attention to those nuances. The skill of preparation will spill over into the other areas of your life!  


Step 1- Clean your bag out! Completely!

Most likely, this is the same bag you are taking to and from practices each day. Therefore it's probably a mess as it naturally will become over time. You don't need those left over food rappers and homework assignments cluttering your bag. It really makes it difficult to find the things you need on competition day. Do the right thing, clean it out :)  


Step 2- replace if needed

if you're in the market for a new bag because your current one is falling apart, check out this past blog on great athletic bags.

Make sure if you are on the hunt, you find a bag or backpack that fits all your needs. I am not an advocate for buying something just to buy something. 

Step 3- Set out morning clothes

Choose what you will wear in the morning for your warm up and have it set out ready to go. I will even stack all my clothes in order of what I will put on first in the morning. Seriously, take the guess work out for yourself. Knowing what I will put on as soon as I wake up helps relieve the stress of getting ready in the morning. I don't want to accidentally pack the clothes I need and have to dig in the morning trying to find it! So first thing first, set out your morning clothes. 

I make sure to wear what I'm comfortable warming up in, and then I change into my singlet. Of anything, I 100% recommend changing your shirt after your warm-up. Having a fresh shirt really re-sets your mentality to help you change from warm-up mode to competition mode. If you have a favorite shirt you feel awesome in, throw it on after you've left some sweat on the mat!

Step 4- The must haves for competing

My rule always is this; as long as I have what I need to compete and step out on the mat, everything else I forget really wont matter. Singlet, shoes, head gear, knee pads, and mouthguard. I don't compete with headgear, but whether its required or not, I always bring it. If you have other must haves on your list in order to compete, then make sure those get packed in this step!

Step 5- Rehydration, Snacks, Warm-Up Gear

Two water bottles; one for water and one for my rehydration packets. This is a fairly small sampling for food I bring, but bars and a fruit are always necessity for me. If you want the full list of snacks to bring to competition, check out THAT BLOG HERE. I also focus a lot on rehydration, so sometimes thats where a lot of my calories and sugar energy can come from. Hair ties. DUH. I am obsessed with my Trigger Point travel roller and it is always part of my warm-up. I also bring a jump rope in case I need it for in between matches. If you listen to music in your down time, throw in your head phones here. Add anything else you need to refocus and prepare as you compete throughout the day. 


 Step 6- The Extras

Extra socks and underwear. Feminine hygiene products. Extra hair ties (you always break one, or you will always have a teammate who forgot theirs, be that girl with extras). Finger tape, extra knee pad from the one you're wearing for competition. Finger nail clippers (if you bring them, guard them with your life. Someone WILL walk away with them after borrowing). These items won't make or break you, and you'll probably have a few more to add to your list, but you'll see that over time having a few things here and there can help in those emergency situations. 



How to Layer Sports Wear in the Winter

Its the middle of winter, and some of you already live in a snowy-area, and there are some of you that don't. Either way, if you're going to be traveling as an athlete during winter, or you want to take advantage of wearing your comfortable athletic layers, then having the right winter clothing as an athlete will be critical. These are the winter essentials an athlete never leaves the house without:

Having layers for cold weather helps you stay comfortable and prepared for all different types of weather. You give yourself the opportunity to add or subtract as the weather gets warmer or cooler. 


Base Layer

First, the base layer is the layer that is closest to your skin. This layer is about managing moisture so you're most comfortable throughout the day. If you choose a base layer that is made with synthetic or moisture wicking material, it will not hold moisture like cotton will. I have certainly made the mistake of thinking a thicker cotton tee or long sleeve would keep me warm. If I am perspiring at all, a cotton tee and sports bra will hold all the moisture in and keep me cold. Above, I am wearing a long sleeve by Lululemon that is called the Yogini 5 year Long Sleeve (find here) made of a lycra blend fabric made for moisture-wicking. I even choose to go with a non-cotton sports bra by Athleta with the same properties. This long-sleeve tee is great for warmth and easily transforms for any venue, not just sports! 

I also throw on my favorite buff that you can wear as a neck warmer, over your face, as a head band, and even more! They are AMAZING! 



Insulating Layer

Your second layer should be your insulating layer. A sweater made of great materials for keeping in the warmth. Wool and down or a synthetic down are great for keeping you warm. The one I am wearing is by Avalanche and is made of poly. It may not be the best for keeping me warm, but I do love the length and how this sweater buttons high and slouchy up on the neck, or I can unbutton and lay it flat to ventilate if i get too hot. I will definitely be in the market for a sweater layer that keeps in the warmth better than this one day. But for now, this one is great. I really take my time looking for good pieces that will last. 


Outside SHELL 

Your last layer will be for weather protection. It should zip in all that warm goodness you put on before, and then protect you from wind, rain, and snow. Hoods are a must-have, and I am a big fan of a hip length jacket. This one is also by Lululemon called the Fleecy Keen Jacket (find similar here). It zips high up the neck so the hood fits tightly down on your head for fierce winds. It also has thumb holes and additional fabric that covers your fingers like mittens! 


Pants shoes accessories

Finding a light weight legging that can fit under form fitting pants is so huge! With technology today, there are so many options with warm leggings that dont take up the space of older thick "long johns" of the past. I am wearing Uniqlo's Heattech leggings in dark gray (find them here) underneath my waterproof pants layer by Columbia that cinches at the bottom to prevent any water or snow from getting your feet wet! Wool socks are a must have in my book, as well as ankle high boots. These ones are by Nike and were made for the Winter Olympic Team athletes. Hat and gloves are your own discretion :)


The most important thing to remember is that this is not about enticing you to get out and by a whole new winter wardrobe. Most likely, you already have a few pieces like this in your closet. I have used many of my dry-fit clothing for workout as my base layer, and the sports bras are the same ones I use at wrestling practice that wick sweat away. Start your search for one or two pieces that you can really invest in that will last you years. Try to not make the mistake of buying something in fast fashion because its cheaper and you can get it immediate. Save your money and take time seeking out great brands that that look classic, wear well, wash well, and you can wear for years!


Video! Whats in My Bag to Columbia: Packing for Athletes

As you start thinking about your upcoming wrestling season or sports season, it starts getting exciting to think about how and what you will pack with you. Especially with a new school year, we all get enthusiastic about improving upon ourselves and our efficiency from last year. You're a little older, you've learned from your season last year, maybe you've even collected a few new items that will help you become more efficient with the way you pack your things. I know that each time I pack for a trip or competition, I try my best to become more minimalist and more efficient and I learn something new from each trip. Since I am traveling to Columbia on Wednesday, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share with you I typically take in my bag when I travel overseas! Check out my must haves I always bring on my travels!