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Art: Pre-Match Prep
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Pre-Match Preparation
By Joseph Delgado, Team Head

Ok now that we have the general safety guidelines out of the way, I want to focus on a few things that can help you get a great start.

  1. Clean your equipment.
  2. Pack your bag.
  3. Warm-up and Stretching.
  4. Water

Cleaning your equipment
One of the worst discomforts I encounter on the court, besides getting hit, is the salty sweat that gets in my eyes from my goggles. Depending on my diet it doesn’t happen or it really gets bad.

The next morning, I can see the dried sweat on my glasses and on my goggles. So before I play, usually, I rinse my glasses and goggles with warm water and dry them with a towel. I also clean and let dry any bands that hold goggles in place, they start to stink.

Gloves can’t really be cleaned, but you should have more than one glove. It’s tough to play with the same wet glove and if you let them dry by rotating them they’ll last longer.

Shoes should also be dried out. Think I’m making a serious mistake and keeping them in my sealed gym bag. I used to have two pairs of shoes and would alternate them.

Packing your bag
Tournament play requires a lot more accessories than recreational play, but you should get into the habit to bring everything you need. Brad Gilbert in his Winning Ugly book wrote he can normally tell who’s going to win by what they have in their bag. So bring some extra shirts, shorts, socks, headbands, and shoes. Add a first-aid kit, freshly strung racquets, and pain relievers. Keep an older bag for overnight tournaments.

I used to bring a backpack to the gym to carry essential stuff to the court instead of making trips to my locker.

Warm up and Stretching
Everybody warms up differently and most of the rookie players at Rutgers don’t warm up at all. Basically my warm-up consists of hitting forehands and backhands at low power. I want to see which parts of my body are in trouble. After a few minutes, I often stretch my back and calves. At night, I often do a longer stretching routine.

I had a great book on stretching; it had a section on racquetball and a host of other activity specific stretches.

Racquetball on the Rutgers Cook Campus is even more demanding during the Summer months. I drink about 128 oz. of water throughout the day. At tournaments I go through almost a gallon of distilled water per day. I also drink Gatorade after a match or at the end of my recreational play.

If you feel thirsty it’s too late to recover, so drink often. Without water your blood loses viscosity and your heart has to work harder to pump that “blood syrup” to your organs and muscles. Stay hydrated and your game will see a big difference.

Brad Gilbert wrote in his book that a match starts long before you walk on a court. Things you can square away and not worry about start stacking things in your favor. You want to hit the ground running and not work your way into a match. So clean your equipment, warm up and stretch, drink plenty of water, and be prepared to work hard.

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