Written by Contributing Editor Cathy Gehr (Health Researcher and Nutrition Adviser)
How’s it going with your tennis training program? Could complacency be your greatest opponent? Tweak your tennis strategy by including these top 5 tennis tips for hydration. All the tennis training tactics are not going to help if your body is suffering from poor hydration management.
When it comes to hydration tips for tennis tournaments or even a fun game with friends, a smart hydration plan is vital before, during and after. Tennis is, in general, a warmer weather sport, and sun-drenched tennis court surfaces coupled with an intense heat index create dehydration pitfalls.
Top 5 Tennis Tips for Hydration
Keep in mind these top 5 tennis tips for hydration are generalizations. Everyone has their unique sweating pattern, digestive system, and muscle and fitness development. As a tennis player you should be acutely aware of your individual hydration requirements. Here’s my A, B, C, D, E plan for optimum tennis hydration:
A. Avoid or limit intake of caffeinated drinks (such as coffee, teas, soft drinks) before and immediately after tennis training and match games. They are potent dehydrates, plus trigger fluid loss via sweat and urine. It’s a misnomer that caffeine creates extra energy. A Vitamin B tablet helps promote extra energy without an increase loss of fluids. And definitely avoid alcohol at these times, but you already know that, right?
B. Be prepared. Fill up and chill your bottles or sports drink containers beforehand and park them courtside for handy, regular intake of fluids. Plan for over 2 quarts or more.
C. Consume sufficient fluids before, during, and after your tennis training program and match performances. In general: Drink 17 to 20 ounces within the 2 hours before; 5 to 10 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during; and within the 2 hours afterwards drink a minimum of 20 ounces per pound of weight loss.
D. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Maintain a deliberate drinking discipline today and every day. Light-colored or clear urine is a good sign you’re on target. At 2% loss of body water we feel thirsty, but by then our endurance is compromised. At 3% dry mouth sets in. By 5% we have problems concentrating coupled by pulse and breathing increase. With the possibility of death occurring at 11%, you can see it’s essential to be well hydrated.
E. Electrolytes, whether from water or sports drinks, are important for an overall health and stability. These electrically-charged substances, naturally found in urine, blood and other body fluids, are released through sweat, and must be replenished through drinks and foods that contain them. Follow a balanced intake — not too high or too low. Either extreme can cause nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, and kidney malfunction.
What to do for dehydration? Rehydrate as soon as possible. Stop physical activity, go to a cool place, put your feet up, and slowly drink, drink, drink. In a few hours you’ll feel better, but keep chilling out. It can take up to 1½ days to make up for your fluid loss.
Re-hydrating is not just about drinking water and juice; it’s about getting re-balanced via electrolytes. The sodium and chloride components in electrolytes (along with potassium and bicarbonate) are key to staving off muscle cramps. Potassium via bananas is not as effective as a liquid electrolytes intake.
“Lack of proper hydration in body tissues is now recognized as a substantial factor in the aging process. Symptoms of dehydration can include: headaches, irritability, impatience, restlessness, insomnia, dry skin, loss of appetite, constipation, unexplained weight gain, and swollen hands and/or feet from water retention. The gradual loss of water in the body is one factor of aging which contributes significantly to wrinkles. Water requirements vary according to body size, physical activity, air temperature, and sweating.” – Ron Garner, Author (Conscious Health: A Complete Guide to Wellness Through Natural Means)
Keep striving to stay at the top of your game with these top 5 tennis tips for hydration. They’re so easy to do, but so easy to overlook until you’re dying of thirst! Hydrate now, hydrate often, as the intake of fluids keeps your body in top form by providing it with the liquids it needs for optimum performance.