Nutrition and Hydration Tips for Tennis

Tennis players are encouraged to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water within two hours of their match.

Tennis is a match of "a thousand little sprints." If you want to succeed in tennis, players need to sustain the quick anaerobic movements required by the sport for matches that can last several hours.

The competitive tennis season is in full swing in Florida year round but we are approaching the warmer months where a high heat index and hot court surfaces are common environments. These conditions make tennis players targets for dehydration and heat illness.

Tennis players should be focused on high-energy foods and adequate hydration, timed appropriately before and after multiple competitions. The following guidelines help develop successful nutrition and hydration practices for players.

Pre-Match Eating and Hydration Guidelines

Tennis players need to pay special attention to their pre-match meals and beverage choices, as these foods and fluids may need to last for hours during tournament and multiple match play.

Examples of pre-match meals and snacks rich in carbohydrates are pasta, bread, fresh fruit, granola bars, energy bars and sports drinks.

Hydration tips before players hit the court:

  • Limit/avoid caffeinated beverages (iced teas, coffee, colas) especially right before and after match play. These may cause additional fluid loss as urine.
  • The night before, fill and chill squeeze bottles or sports jugs and bring to each practice or match. Each player should have a minimum of 2 liters available courtside.
  • Consume enough fluids throughout the day so urine is a light or pale yellow color before starting a match.
  • Drink 17 to 20 oz. of fluid within 2 hours pre-match.

Fluid Needs During Play

Thirst is not a good indicator of hydration level. Adequate fluid consumption is a player’s best bet for beating dehydration and heat illness. To keep tennis players performing at
their best, encourage fluid consumption every 15 minutes and especially at changeovers. Players should consume 5-10 oz. of fluid (sports drinks containing 17g/8oz carbohydrates and electrolytes are ideal) every 15-20 minutes for optimal hydration and performance.

Favor sports drinks to enhance rehydration. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, like sodium. Consuming carbohydrates during play has been shown to help players maintain more power and accuracy with serving and ground strokes in long-match play. Powerade contains 17 grams of carbohydrates per 8 ounces, which is quickly absorbed and used by working muscles. Sodium replacement also is important since a significant amount of sodium can be lost through sweat during long tennis matches.

Post-Match Nutrition

  • Players should eat foods and drink fluids that replenish muscle energy stores and electrolytes lost in competition.
  • Share these guidelines with your athletes:
  • Eat carbohydrates as soon as possible, preferably within 30 minutes of a match. Begin by drinking a sports drink as you walk off the court.
  • Replace 150 percent of body fluids lost or at least 20 oz. per pound of weight loss within 2 hours of a match.
  • Eat a high-carbohydrate meal that also contains a lean protein source within 2 hours after play to maximize muscle glycogen recovery (rebuild energy stores) and to support protein synthesis in muscle.
  • During tournament play, be sure to include carbohydrates, protein, fluid and sodium in the evening meal to quicken recovery from play. Consider lightly salting foods and consuming foods and beverages that are natural sodium sources.
  • Avoid high-protein and high-fat foods as these will contribute to dehydration.

© 2011 Hillsborough County Tennis Association     813.997.2790
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