A tournament is a tournament no matter how small. While fantasy tournaments are more fun and laid back compared to tournaments during the competitive season, it’s still important to prep yourself for the wear and tear of a full day of quidditch. Here are some of my tips and tricks to survive fantasy tournaments this summer.

Adequate nutrition is extremely important and can make or break your performance. If you are only going to eat one nutritious meal this year, make sure it is for dinner the night before a tournament. Dinner should contain a good source of carbohydrates, protein and a fruit. For breakfast that day eat something small, as you do not want to play on a full stomach. A full stomach takes a couple hours to completely empty.

If you sleep until the last possible second before heading to the fields, try to grab a snack containing anywhere between 25-50g of carbohydrates if you’re going to play fewer than 30 minutes before brooms up. If you have 1-2 hours before brooms up, you could try to eat something around 200 calories with 50g of carbs and some protein or fat if your stomach can tolerate it.  I usually aim to eat 90-120 minutes before I have to warm up. During the day you want to consume about 30-60g of carbohydrates and incorporate some protein during longer breaks.

Sun Protection
Sunburn at summer tournaments is almost as common as snitches. While people are trying to cool off and rest between games, they tend to forget to reapply sunscreen. Sunscreen will block the absorption of UVA and UVB rays, preventing damage to the skin and glands on the skin’s surface. The skin contains sweat glands under the surface that help regulate your body temperature. If these get damaged by UVA rays they cannot cool the body effectively, potentially increasing the risk of overheating as well as your risk for skin cancer.

Ideally you want to initially apply about a shot glass full of sunscreen on your skin a half hour before any sun exposure to allow for adequate absorption. Typically it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen 2-3 hours depending on your skin type. However, sunscreen needs to be reapplied after sweating profusely (about 1 to 2 quidditch games) since sweat can make the sunscreen run off your skin. There are waterproof sunscreens on the market which stay on your skin better, but even those will sweat off after a couple games of quidditch. For those of you worried about not getting a tan, I have still gotten some color wearing SPF 50.

Warm Up and Cool Down
In order for your muscles to perform properly, you need warm them up and cool them down. A proper warm-up includes a slow jog and some dynamic stretches. You should definitely warm-up fully in the beginning of the day and any time you have more than a 90-minute break between games. Otherwise dynamic stretches and passing around a quaffle before subsequent games should be adequate.

Just as important as a warm-up is a cool down. Transitioning from sprinting full-speed to a complete stop is not good for your body.  Cool downs allow your muscles to removes any lactic acid in the cells and helps prevent them from tightening between games. A cool down jog between games close to each other time-wise is fine, but you should add some stretches during an extended break.

Staying hydrated is probably the most important thing in order to survive a fantasy tournament. If readers would not get lost in all the physiology, I could write chapters on how important hydration is for your body. In the days leading up to a tournament you want to increase your fluid intake to about 30-35 ml/kg of body weight. This water will primarily be used as sweat at the tournament. In order to maintain hydration levels, you should continue drinking this amount of fluid during the tournament.

During the day you should switch between drinking water during the games and a sports drink in between. You will not get any more benefits drinking a sports drink during a game compared to water. Between games, the sports drink will help replenish carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid lost. You want a sports drink to only contain 14-19g of carbohydrates, at least 110mg of sodium and about 25mg of potassium for every 8 oz of fluid.

Change of Clothes
After a long, gruesome day playing quidditch, I know the first thing I want to do is change out of the clothing I was playing in. Sitting in sweaty clothes all day sets up a perfect environment for bacteria to grow in and increases your chance for yeast or staph infections, so you want to change clothing as soon as you know you are done playing for the day. Plus after you have done your cool down and changed your clothes (even underwear), you will feel more refreshed after playing all day. It will also help decrease some of the stench and you will not feel as self conscious going to grab food after the tournament.

Usually I bring a small bag with a fresh set of clothes with me and store it in the car until I am done. The clothes are no more than a quidditch T-shirt that was clean that morning and a pair of shorts. I also bring flip flops to wear around the fields so my feet are not sitting in my cleats all day.