Cover photo courtesy of Bryan Jones

So you’ve never been to a kubb tournament. You’re thinking: How should I prepare? What should I bring? What can I expect when I get there? After all, you want to make your first time adventure a great one. You love the game, kubbunity (kubb community), excitement, Swedish brats, cold refreshments, the sound of wood on wood, and the nail-biting intensity of a nonchalant environment.

Many of us learn the hard way. We show up, ill-prepared, and then start making our list of the things we plan to do differently next time. Everyone’s guide will look a little different. I’ve put together my own list of what I feel are the essential things to consider for surviving your next kubb tournament.

Practice

It seems simple enough, but there are many players out there who don’t put enough time in before a tournament and still hope to survive. It’s like riding a bike; it comes back pretty quickly. But it’s a mental game we play with ourselves. On tournament day it nags us, the thought that we are not ready and this weighs us down. We aren’t as confident. We aren’t as focused. We are timid instead of eager and aggressive. It sure helps to practice with your teammates as much as possible before a tournament. You work through each scenario before it happens. You want to be comfortable with them on the line. There isn’t one team out there, I believe, who doesn’t have to adjust strategy during the day in some way. Knowing how to communicate and trust one another will help you survive longer and, hopefully, get you on the podium.

Rest

Getting adequate rest and sleep is critical for optimum energy during the tournament. How much do you practice the day before? That’s a personal decision. Some players like to take the day off. Others, like myself, will practice the day before and won’t quit as long as there is someone willing to play.

Transportation

If you plan to fly, look for the deals. Often the longer out you purchase your tickets the better the deal you will get. If you are driving a considerable distance, have your vehicle checked over for any potential maintenance issues. What about carpooling? If you’re driving to a winter tournament some distance away, should you leave early to avoid inclement weather? Do you have the option of a vehicle that does better on winter roads?

Lodging

There are many options here. I know some teams like to rent out a whole house and split the cost. Airbnb is a great way to find a good deal on a private room or a full house. There are reasonably priced motel rooms out there as well. Some tournament directors will set up a block of rooms at a reduced rate to players. If you have friends in the kubb community to reach out to for a place to stay, many are more than happy to let you crash on the couch or in a spare bedroom. Camping is a great way to cut costs if you have the equipment. Many campgrounds have cabins that can be rented for small groups. If it’s early spring or late fall and you are tent camping, be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag and a tent heater.

Photo of two chairs.Camp Chair

For me, this is a must. I don’t like to sit on the ground or on a bleacher without a backrest. If I’m going to be rested between games, I need to relax in my comfortable camp chair.

EZ Up Tent

It’s not essential, but sure is nice for shade, rainy or cold weather, and windy conditions. Don’t forget the stakes! I’ve seen so many of these tents blow away in the slightest of breezes. The last thing you want to do is buy another tent, or pay for the one next to you because yours cartwheeled into the neighbors and ripped theirs up!

Food/Drinks

Fill a cooler with food and beverages. You’ll see a real savings when you pack snacks and drinks— especially for the ride to and from the tournament. Do plan to have extra money to support the local food vendor on site or go out to eat and have a few drinks at the end of the day with other players, if that interests you. Remember to pack a lot of water to stay hydrated during the day. Consider packing energy bars, trail mix, yogurt, fruit (apples, cherries, bananas, and peaches are good), sandwiches, nuts, and chocolate. Personally, I need to have my morning coffee or I’m no good the rest of the day! Also, don’t forget your favorite Kubbzie to keep your drink cold!

Photo of a can koozie, or kubbzie. Photo of two coolers.

Kubb Set

Duh. I never go anywhere without one. It’s always in the trunk of my car. I like to get to the tournament site early to practice. This usually means the day before. Sometimes venues have different types of ground conditions, so it’s peace of mind knowing how my kubbs will move around when they land. It is helpful to find out what type of wood the tournament is using so you can practice with a similar set, if possible. It’s good to know if you are throwing the traditional JP’s poplar batons and kubbs, or something much heavier like maple, oak, or ash. Also be sure to pack a rope pitch jig so you can measure out the exact dimensions to practice on.

Clothing

What time of year is it? What is the anticipated weather for the day? What will the temperature be? Plan accordingly. I always bring extra clothing. You never know if something’s going to get ripped, stained, or misplaced. A raincoat is important if there is even a slight possibility of rain. In the winter, clothing is a particular concern for a lot of players. What is the proper way to layer clothing in order to stay warm and still play effectively? What are the best gloves to wear? Will I be throwing with my bare hand or a gloved hand? Do I need hand warmers? What kind of boots do I wear? Ball cap, wool cap, balaclava, or no headwear? What about sunglasses? Team apparel?

First Aid Kit

I’m not talking about anything elaborate here. I’m sure the tournament host will have an EMS station for those players who take a baton in the face, break a toe on a stake, or get a sliver buried deep into the muscle. A simple pouch could hold some Band-Aids, tape, antiseptic wipes, gauzes, sunscreen, pain relievers, and anti-biotic ointment. This might be a good place to put any prescription medications, as well. If you’re out in the sun, regardless if it’s summer or winter (reflection off the snow can sure be intense), be sure to apply the sunscreen. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with sunburn for days.

Drink Holder/Inkastare Platform

I know this isn’t critical for survival, but I don’t like to bend over constantly for my drink and game pieces. When there are a lot of kubbs in play, I prefer to stack them on a platform and throw a few at a time.

Cell Phone/Charger/Electronic Devices

It should go without saying, but it would be terrible to leave these at home. A lot of people are carrying portable chargers now so they can get the maximum use out of their devices, especially when the battery life is sucked dry from taking photos or recording video of games all day.

Extra Cash

Plans can change quickly so extra cash is helpful for those surprise expenses. Who knows, you might want to buy a tournament shirt, hat, or other memorabilia, if available.

Make your list and check it twice so your next kubb tournament will be a success. Good kubbin!