First and foremost, a few weeks before the competition should be dedicated to increasing endurance. In Tae Kwon-Do, fights usually last 2 minutes for coloured belts, and sometimes two, two-minute rounds for black belts.
You can never predict the size of your category on the day of the competition; therefore you have to prepare for the worst case scenario. Assume a big category of 32 fighters including yourself, this means five rounds for you if you reach the final. That means if you are a coloured belt, you need to be fit enough for ten minutes of sparring, and if you are a black belt, it is twenty minutes.
The next step is crucial. You need to work yourself harder at training, than what you will put out on the day of the competition. This can be done in many ways.
1. At the competition you will have a break between fights. Hence, when you are training in the gym, take these breaks out. A two-minute round with the punch bag should be followed by a minute jog, instead of a rest, before another punchbag round and so on. This way your body is constantly using energy and your stamina will improve considerably. And once you’re in the ring, your body will be able to recover between fights much faster as it is not used to having a rest between sparring sessions.
2. An alternative method would be to set the time for a round to 3 minutes. Try and keep the intensity high throughout. Your body will get used to this time, and once you are competing, you will find that you still have plenty of energy at the end of the round to collect those last precious points when your opponent is tired.
3. For optimal results, you should combine these two methods to keep your body guessing. Using legs gets much more tiring than punching, so try and use your legs a lot more during training.
4. Pad drills are very important. Try and learn at least five different combinations well running up to the fight, so you can use varied attacks and keep surprising your opponent.
It is important to maintain a high protein consumption during pre-competition preparation, as you will be doing a lot of cardio and you do not want your body to start breaking down your muscle tissue to use as energy.
A high carb diet is also recommended as this will fuel your workouts and it replenishes your glycogen levels and your body will tap into those supplies when needed, as opposed to muscle tissue. An important aspect that most people overlook is not replenishing your bodies salt levels. Sports drinks contain lots of minerals and will give you some energy back, so it is wise to consume drinks that contain electrolytes so you can replace the salts lost from sweating.
The day of the competition, you do not want to overhydrate yourself, or bloat yourself with food that is difficult to digest. Keep sipping small amounts of water during the day. Bananas are one of the greatest sources of carbs along with brown rice and pasta and should be consumed every three hours with some protein in moderate amounts leading up to the fight.
You want to have your last carb meal about three hours before the fight. An hour before the fight is a good time for some fruit juice, and a banana with fruit yogurt, and peanut butter with honey to provide some quick energy.
Avoid eating fatty meats and other high fat content foods as this will fire up your metabolism, and your body will focus most of its energy on digestion and not enough will be spared for your fight. This is sometimes called a food coma and should be avoided as it can make you feel tired and lethargic and have a bad impact on your mood and motivation before the fight.