Here’s an interesting question I saw posted in a discussion group.

Q: In tournaments endurance is critical. Please send answers for the following 3 areas:
1) building endurance?
2) nutrition/best foods: pre, during, after
3) other things to do: stretches, massage, mind/mental stuff?

Let me address each component.

Building endurance

The physical side of this question is actually one that might be pretty unique in sports. In most cases I’d venture to say that team practices last longer than tournament matches. Let’s use Juniors in the US as an example. Club teams probably have something like 2-hour long practices as the norm. When they play in tournaments, though, they generally last less than an hour. In fact, it’s only about 45 minutes in many cases.

What about the case of college teams playing two best-of-5 matches per day during early season tournaments? Well, in that case we’re talking mainly about teams that have been doing 2-a-days for some period of time up to that point.

This being the case, I would suggest no additional “endurance” training is necessary. If you have a sufficiently high training tempo then the players should be more than reading for the tournament physical demands.

Nutrition and hydration

To my mind this is probably the most impactful area to focus on. If you want your players to perform at their best throughout an event they need to have the necessary energy reserves and access and must be properly hydrated. This starts the day before the event and carries through it. Aside from what players take in there is also the question of when.

I am not a nutritionist or any kind of expert on this subject. I’ve been in seminars on the subject, though. There are different things to consider here, depending on your circumstances. My recommendation to you is to sit down with someone qualified to speak about your specific situation. That way you have the most relevant information to pass along to players (and parents) and for your own planning purposes.

The other stuff

For me the other big thing is recovery. That means getting enough rest between matches – and in the case of multi-day events, sleep. You don’t want your players needlessly burning energy (kind of like my thoughts about match day serve & pass). Keep in mind, though, that the mental side of things is just as important as the physical. If you have the team doing stuff like scouting or other brain work, it could be just as draining as doing something physical, if not more so.

As for things like stretching, massage, etc. I think there’s probably a situational element. These are definitely much more meaningful considerations for older, more advanced athletes. Again, I’m not expert. I will defer to a trainer, a physiotherapist, or someone like that. I think, though, that time between matches matter. You probably don’t want to do something that will relax the muscles too much if there isn’t much time before you play again. And obviously if there’s an injury situation with a player there are probably things they’ve been advised to do, or not do.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.