Tennis is a passion that dedicated players refuse to give up on. Many choose to combat the heat and continue playing during the hottest of summer months.
One of the biggest challenges a tennis player faces during the summer months is maintaining proper hydration. Especially during the summer months, dehydration can be a tennis player’s most dangerous opponent, causing fatigue and a loss of strength for power and a loss of speed for movement. During exercise, your body’s core temperature rises. However, there are several mechanisms that occur to help control this rise in body temperature and prevent heat related illnesses and injuries. Your body attempts to balance the heat dissipation through conduction, radiation, and evaporation. Evaporation is the primary heat dissipating mechanism, which is why sweating is so important. However, fluid loss as little as one to two percent of total body weight can compromise your tennis match by decreasing your concentration, increasing your fatigue, or even decreasing your reaction time. Further fluid loss of three percent or greater can compromise physiological function and dramatically increase the athlete’s risk for heat related illnesses or injuries.
First and foremost, it is important for tennis players, no matter what the skill level, to know what the recommendations are. Secondly, you must learn how to apply these recommendations to your daily routine and during competitions in order to optimize your hydration and prevent potentially dangerous physiological complications. I recommend that you chill at least 2 quarts of water the night before a match to drink during the match the next day. During a match or training periods, consistent water consumption is an essential element in helping your body stay energized to compete. Drink somewhere between 8 and 10 ounces every two or three games. It’s also is a good idea to limit your intake of carbonated sodas, caffeinated beverages, coffee, or anything with milk in it prior to or during a match or workout.
Water helps to cool and prevent dehydration, but water alone does not have energy boosters or sodium, so you may want to consider sports drinks that contain carbohydrates and electrolytes. Electrolytes are simply conductors of energy. These types of drinks can help players maintain power and speed for their shot-making and quickness around the court.
After the match, start replenishing your body with fluids immediately.
Remember, your energy highways are open. Even after you’ve stopped playing and your body has begun to cool down, you continue to lose water and sodium through perspiration. If you have a tendency to sweat profusely, consider adding a small amount of salt to your drinking water after the match to help you recover. Take in your fluids only a few ounces at a time to get the full benefit of hydration. Trying to replenish all at once can overfill your tank.
Below in summary, I have listed some tips to help keep you cool and some interesting facts about sports drinks.
1) Drink fluids before, during, and after you play tennis or workout.
2) Don’t wait until you feel thirsty; in the heat of a match, that will be
too late to help you. Start drinking fluids during the warm-up.
3) Limit the intake of caffeine and milk products before you play.
4) Consider sports drinks, rather than water alone. It can help boost your
5) Test-drive sports drinks before using them during play, to make sure
the taste is agreeable and it doesn’t upset your stomach.
· During continuous workouts of greater than 90 minutes, your body
may benefit from a sports drink.
· Sports drinks have electrolytes and carbohydrates.
· Carbohydrates in sports drinks provide extra energy. The most
effective sports drinks contain 15 to 18 grams of carbohydrate in
every 8 ounces of fluid.
Steven White is the author of...
Teaching Tennis: Protocol for Instructors www.wishpublishing.com/teaching_tennis.htm
Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids
Both books are also available on Amazon.com