Our coaches and players have competed in a lot of weekend water polo tournaments. And we feel it’s important to be prepared for whatever lies ahead! Because of that, we’ve compiled a helpful list of items we feel are most essential for the parents who want their athlete, as well as themselves, to be as comfortable as possible. It’s really a list meant for anybody who’s gonna spend a day or weekend on a pool deck!
Sunscreen is an absolute must bring for water polo tournaments, especially in the summertime. It’s important that the sunscreen has UVA/UVB protection (preferably both) and is SPF 30 or higher. It’s also important that the sunscreen is water-resistant, and that competitors apply their sun protection in areas that will get the most exposure during games – face, neck, shoulders, arms, upper chest, and back.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of sunscreens are now in easy-to-use spray bottles. So that begs the question: “Spray on? Or sunscreen lotion?” Well… they both work well. But, from our experience, the “spray-on” sunscreen tends to be a little less water-resistant than the sunscreen lotion. Yes, it’s a little more work to apply the sunscreen lotion by hand, but it ensures better coverage so it’s probably worth the extra effort. A good approach would be to pack one of each: lotion and spray on. Because the spray-on is still nice to have around when competitors are in a hurry but need sun protection, and it allows competitors to get sunscreen on harder-to-reach places they would normally need assistance for, such as their back.
And remember that the most important rule of sunscreen is to give it about ten minutes to set after rubbing it in. If someone just hops in the pool immediately afterwards, most of the sunscreen will just rinse away, and with it, their sun protection. So, a good rule is to have the competitor get in their game suit early and start applying sunscreen about 15 minutes before warm up time.
2. Eyedrops or milk
Eye relief is so important during water polo games. Competitors’ eyes go through a lot between the glaring sun and the chlorinated water that gets in their eyes all day. The chlorine in the eyes is harmless and won’t cause any damage but it definitely stings a little bit after a game or two, and will last for the rest of the day. Eye drops are useful to carry and can be found at most pharmacies. Another form of relief probably comes from your refrigerator – milk… as in 2%. It sounds a bit strange if you’ve never seen it done before, but it’s a relief the water polo community swears by.
Simply take a pair of goggles and lay them on a flat surface with the eye cups facing upward. Pour the milk in each of the eye cups until it’s near the brim. Have the competitor carefully bring the goggles to their eyes, firmly hold it in place, and then tilt their head slightly backwards. After they open their eyes and look in every direction for roughly 20 seconds, have them remove the milky goggles and flush out their eyes with water. The results are real, and you’ll be happy you tried it out.
3. Bring the cooler!
A quick ‘pro-tip’ is to also put the above-mentioned sunscreen lotion and the milk in the cooler with the drinks. Now, we realize that sunscreen in a cooler might sound a bit strange. But a lot of people would agree that sunscreen lotion that’s been chilled is preferred to lukewarm sunscreen that’s been stuffed in a bag or sitting in the sun all day. Give it a try! It might be your preference as well. Just another little tip to make sitting in the hot sun a little more bearable!
4. Light snacks
Pack light snacks for competitors to munch on like protein bars, power bars, fruits, veggies and nuts. The most important thing is that there’s not much heavy eating between games. And limit the junk food between games! Eat light and save the burger for after the tournament!
5. Shade structure
Bring shade with you. Collapsible shade canopies are worth the investment, if you don’t already have one. And never assume that there will be enough shade at the pool you’re traveling to. One of the worst things that can happen is showing up at a tournament, and having to sit on the pool deck or bleachers in the sun all day. It’s very draining, and very hard for athletes to get the energy they need between games. Shade structures are a great tool to help competitors stay
out of the sun as much as possible when they’re not playing.
6. Bring seating
Most pools have those aluminum metal bleachers for spectators to sit on. But, if you’ve sat on those, you’ve probably realized how uncomfortable they are for extended periods of time. It’s a really good move to have a collapsible chair, or one of those stadium seats you can set on top of the metal bleachers. Every spectator will look at you and wish they had done the same.
7. A hat and/or sunglasses
Protect yourself from the sun in every way you can. Bring a hat that offers UV protection, and consider bringing a pair of polarized sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses don’t have to be expensive. And they do make a huge difference in blocking the glare from the sun shining off the pool, which is a huge relief to your eyes and will make watching the action much easier.
Here are some miscellaneous items that we felt were also worth mentioning, but not as essential
- A good camera for capturing the game action, lifelong memories with the team, or the screaming coach from the bench.
- Leave an extra pair of goggles and a towel in the car, because they can be SO easy to misplace during warmups and cooldowns.
- A pillow if there’s enough time between games for your competitor to take a quick nap under some shade. Those are great.
Image courtesy of Pixabay