Several of our athletes were competing in their sports’ state championship this past weekend.  Lacrosse was one of them while others were in track.  I was lucky enough to have an athlete qualify for the state meet from the track team that I coach.  This athlete also happened to be my daughter.

That being said, it was important to make sure our training schedule was set up for her to have the best chance of success at the state meet.

There are a lot of factors to think about when prepping for the championship week.  If your athlete will be competing in the final championship of the season, take these factors into consideration so you too can be successful.

  • How far in advance is your championship contest? – We had competed in the regional finals on a Friday and the state prelims were a week later. Knowing when you will play will help you plan out your practice schedule to get your athlete in peak condition.
  • How intense should practices be? – This is the end of the season. You are trying to get healthy and be as fresh as possible for your contest.  Your practices should be intense enough to keep you sharp, but not intense enough to cause you fatigue that will last days after.

    As mentioned above, we had a week until our next meet.  We took Saturday off to rest from Regionals.  Sunday, we began practices with Monday being our most intense practice which really wasn’t intense.  It was high speed with plenty of rest inbetween sets, but then the rest of the week was winding down with Thursday being a warmup, cooldown, and stretch practice.

  • Maintain normalcy. – The biggest thing you don’t want to do is throw some wrinkle in that is different than what you normally do. Eat the same thing you have always eaten.  Don’t try anything new that could cause issues that you aren’t used to.  I put one wrinkle in the warmup for my daughter and she didn’t run the time she could have in the finals.  Yes, there could be other factors at play, but when that was the only thing different you wonder if it could have been that.
  • Be ready for something unexpected. – We had a 3.5 hour delay in the track meet. The division before us was still going when the delay was over which affected our start time of my daughter’s race.  Her race was supposed to run at 5:35pm and it didn’t run until 9:00pm.  In that case, you keep the athlete calm and get them as comfortable as possible.

    Meaning, you keep the athlete off her feet.  Now, because of the length of this delay, you have to make sure the athlete stays hydrated and maybe you need to get some food in the athlete to keep energy up.

    That is what we did.  Anna had the 16th fastest time of 18 runners going into the prelims.  That delay probably helped her out as she was able to still run close to her PR in the prelims and we were able to keep her comfortable as best as we could.

  • If at all possible compete hard, but conserve energy. – This isn’t possible for everybody, I know. The state track meet is on consecutive days.  It is tough for athletes to perform their fastest times on back to back days.  You will see relays subbing out key players to see if they can qualify and conserve the energy of their big guns for the finals.  Sometimes, you just don’t have a choice, like my daughter.  She had to run as fast as she could to get to the finals and hope she could repeat it to get onto the podium.
  • Appreciate the moment. – When it is all said and done, there can only be one champion. For these young prep athletes, you should be proud that you were able to get that far.  Not many people come close to making it to the state meet.  Yes, you can be disappointed by your performance if it wasn’t what you thought, but be proud you qualified to compete in that contest in the first place.

You should be able to apply these tidbits to any sport that you play where you are competing for the championship title.  Read them, apply them, and good luck.