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How to prepare for a Gymnastics Competition

Competition day can be daunting and overwhelming, especially if you’re feeling underprepared! We’ve compiled some information to assist you in finding the perfect way to get yourself ready to perform to the best of your ability.

Dietary preparation

As gymnasts generally start training at a young age, it’s important to remember that these growing bodies need all the sustenance they can get to encourage energy and attention maintenance. A training diet should consist of lean proteins for encouraging muscle repair and a healthy balance of natural carbohydrates and healthy fats found in fruits and vegetables as well as plenty of water. Individual nutrition requirements will ultimately differ based on personal metabolism and training load but generally it is promoted by sports dietitians for gymnasts to base their diets around naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and energising foods –some of which are mentioned below. Please seek professional advice if you are on the hunt for a diet specifically catered to the sports regime of you or your child.

Eating before a competition is essential to provide fuel and promote a positive mindset. Choosing the best pre-competition food for you can be tricky so keep in mind you want something that is light but also filling. Look for a meal or snack that is rich in carbohydrates yet low in fat so you’re not feeling weighed down by your food. Eating 2 hours before competing is the ideal time frame to absorb nutrients and for food to settle adequately.

Competition snack ideas

  • Fresh fruit and a small serving of yoghurt
  • Granola or muesli with low fat or plant based milk
  • Pasta or rice with tuna
  • Whole grain salad wrap or sandwich  

Hydration levels are also very important to maintain during both training and competition. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and effect memory which can negatively impact performance. We suggest relying majorly on water to aid hydration. Sports drinks can be helpful in moderation and refreshing if you are in need of a fast cool down, but remember our bodies need water specifically to avoid dizziness and cramping of muscles.   

Mental preparation

Having a clear and positive mental attitude is essential to performing well on competition day! For trustworthy advice on this, we’ve been in contact with some of our customers that regularly compete at a competition level and asked them for their number one tip on effective mental preparation before a big event. Those we spoke to valued positive self-talk above everything else and placed high value on encouraging mantras, “I tell myself that if I’ve done it once and I can do it again! My favourite thing to say to myself is ‘You’ve got this!’” says Instagrammer Grace Sharratt. According to Dr. Joshua Eldridge, the number one reason most gymnasts don’t perform to a high enough standard on competition day is due to having not prepared enough mentally. Dr Eldridge, along with our experienced customers have faith in creating such mental preparation through revisiting your past successes and focusing on a positive outcome. This may seem to be easier said than done, but once you have seen the outcome that can be achieved through positive focus your competition success will be changed forever! Other advice from our customers include having confidence in your abilities and relaxing through meditation and breathing exercises. Calming down on the way to a competition through exercises such as these can be achieved through mobile apps such as “Calm” “Smiling Mind” and “Breathe”. All of these applications promote healthy brain activity which will allow a clear focus on reaching your competition goals.

Physical Preparation

It’s just as important to prepare your body for a competition as it is you mind. Ensure you’ve been eating correctly for the days leading up to your competition and that you are stretching appropriately based on your upcoming routine. Your coach or mentor should provide you with stretching and warm up information specific to your body and routine so make sure to be following this advice up until it’s time to perform.

Another essential element to preparing both your body and mind leading up to competition day is giving yourself enough down time and sleep. Training all day may seem to be giving you the confidence to perform a perfect routine, but if you miss out on an adequate night of sleep before competition day then all that preparation will have been for nothing! Tiredness leads not only to physical fatigue, but to mental fogginess, memory loss and anxious thoughts. So remember: eat well, sleep well, think well.

This is generic information and may not suit your circumstances. Speak to a professional for all your health needs and seek their counsel. We disclaim all liability for any harm resulting from the information on this website.

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1 comment

  • Posted Norah Robinette

    This was very helpful, but how will a gymnast sleep well if she’s stressed. What will she do to not be stressed or worried that she won’t get a good score or place?

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