Surviving the sports all-nighterPosted: December 15, 2011
I never thought of softball as an endurance sport, even though the girls sometimes play 4 games in a day or 10 games during the course of a tournament, often in 90 degree heat. I figured that was just softball. Then, some crazy guy signed us up for a midnight tournament. Yep, a 24 hours of Le Mans version of softball. Suddenly, we’ve made the leap from “just softball” to ultra marathon endurance sport crazy. Did I mention that it’s not even softball season? And we’re playing indoors, in a dome? Just keeps getting crazier.
Then you read those studies about The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior, and consider the fact that we are giving these kids aluminum bats and they are throwing and hitting balls at each other. Yes, it’s certifiably insane and we’re going to happily participate because we’re nuts. I can’t even rationalize this. There is an element of the whole thing that is really fun, as evidenced by this video “Strawberry Festival” All-Night Softball Tournament. Or maybe it’s just the affects of sleep deprivation. Either way, this is our second time pulling an all-nighter, softball wise, and I am much better prepared. Here’s what I learned from last year.
What to bring
Last year, I brought my sleeping bag and everyone laughed. But at 2:00 a.m., it was nice to have a comfortable spot to curl up and take a little nap. And it was pretty cold in there, so I unzipped it and used it as a blanket the rest of the time.
Lots of liquids
Staying hydrated is still really important. Being properly hydrated will help your athlete and you stay fresh physically and mentally. Water is best but a few sports drinks like Gatorade are good, also.
Peppermint essential oil
Rubbing peppermint essential oil on your temples or just taking a couple sniffs of it will help energize and invigorate you. You can get the same effect by applying peppermint lip balm or lotion. For more on the power of peppermint, read up on Solomon healing’s blog.
Do you have a comfy camp chair with a foot stool? Bring it. It’s better than bleachers over the long haul of the tournament. Plus, elevating your feet helps revigorate you and revitalize your legs and improve your circulation. Have your player rest with legs elevated between games.
Quality snacks like nuts, cheese, turkey sandwich on whole grain, apples with peanut butter, easily digestible snacks like those used by marathon runners are best. Save the pizza for the next day. Here’s a list of some other energy-boosting snacks.
Coffee or other caffeinated drinks
Normally, you’d want to stay away from caffeine but in these all-nighter tournaments, caffeine can really help you stay sharp and keep your energy up. Brew up a thermos or two.
Strategies for success
There are a few other things we learned from last year’s all-nighter.
Start off well-rested
Stock up on sleep the day or two before so you aren’t run down and tired before you even start.
Sleep when you can
Even a 10 minute nap has benefits so grab a nap between games.
Time your caffeine and sleep
The best strategy, according to WebMD, is to have your caffeine and then take a 30-minute nap so you wake up feeling refreshed. You’ll feel the effects of the caffeine about 15-30 minutes after you consume it, and it will last three or four hours. A well-timed cup of coffee and nap plan can get you through the night.
Don’t plan on getting anything done the next day
You will be wiped out after the event so make sure you schedule a day to recover. Plan homework and chores accordingly. For some other tips on how to make the best of the next day try these Surviving the Day After an All-Nighter.
Hope these tips help you make it through your tournament all-nighter. Any of you experienced sports parents out there have any other tips to share? Post them in the comments.