Two-A-Days, or, hell week as many not-so-affectionately call them, are upon us. Coaches hold practice twice in a day typically at the beginning of fall, but are sometimes done on a daily basis for some teams. As the name may imply it is often hellish and grueling as your body and mind are pushed out their comfort zones.

For coaches, doubles are imperative for the season mainly to bring rested athletes up to speed on their skills and conditioning, to bond, and (to a more crucial extent) to scope talent for the upcoming season. Athletes need to be aware of their coaches objectives as it can affect their season at large. The wise athlete knows that planning is everything and should come into hell week in good athletic shape and a strong objective for the season. Even the most tenacious teammates, however, can hurt themselves, or, their chances if they do not show up prepared for the long and enduring days of seemingly endless gassers, drills, and plays to come. This is why you should make sure you have all of the essentials packed in your gym bag on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re wondering about..

Drinks and Snacks

Bottom line, if you’re thirsty you’re too late, and if you’re hungry you’re bound to run out of fuel soon. Having the right arsenal of snacks and drinks on hand to help fuel your performance is essential to packing your bag. After intense training sessions, there are three things your body and brain will need, fluids, carbohydrates and some protein.

For fluid replenishment, water is always a great option, but coconut water, and orange juice (post session) replace the sugars and electrolytes lost in a way that water just cannot do. While you may be tempted to reach for a popular sports drink, ask yourself what you’re gaining from refined sugar and chemicals. Are you really gaining any competitive advantage, and wouldn’t it be more beneficial to pack a little bit of extra nutrients into each gulp?

Snacks are also extremely important. If you know that you lose stamina quickly, it’s not a bad idea to keep honey sticks in your bag for a quick energy boost that can be consumed during a water break. In between sessions, reach for something that contains both protein and carbohydrates or pair foods like grass-fed beef jerky or a hard boiled egg and an apple. Don’t be afraid to eat up either. The more fuel in the tank, the longer you’ll last. Just be sure to space your meals far enough out from your second session to avoid cramping or gut irritability. This will be a trial and error process- don’t eat too much, too soon.

Extra Sweat Absorbing and Sun Protecting Gear

Your body is strictly regulated by the hypothalamus in our brain.This internal “thermostat” gets signals from receptors in your body that detect body temperature. When your body temperature raises, for example, the body begins to sweat to cool itself off. Sweating too much can not only cause dehydration but can be irritating to the skin as it touches your clothes.

One common ailment that can happen are the formation of blisters on the feet and ankles which can impair pedal sensory input, and also hurt pretty badly. Remember to pack at least 3 pairs of socks per day, and sandals to keep your feet cool and let excess heat escape.

Staying out of direct sunlight on your break is also crucial to recovery as it gives your body a chance to cool down allowing the heart, lungs and nervous system to rest. If you know shade is going to be scarce, pack a beach umbrella and a wide brimmed hat to offer yourself some relief from the sun. Pack extra sunblock as well to avoid sun poisoning and the harmful dehydrating effects of severe sunburn.

Duct Tape

No matter how new your cleats are, or how sturdy your pads feel, there is always the possibility that your gear can tear or become damaged leaving you with little to no time to replace them. Duct tape is strong and durable enough to resist moisture and the adhesive won’t melt in the sun making it perfect to mend broken pieces of equipment, and your coaches will be impressed at your preparedness. Toss a roll in your bag the night before your first practice, and see how it may come in handy.

The big thing to remember is that preparation is key when gearing up for hell week. Down time and recovery are just as important to how you perform in each practice as the training you’ve done leading up to camp. A smart athlete knows how to take care of him/herself at all times, and is responsible with their bodies. Keep these things in your practice bag as your move through the week, and you’ll be running faster, jumping higher, and moving smoother than you’d expected! Failing to prepare is preparing to fail 😉