Tennis Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Tennis Players

tennis-nutrition-and-sports-supplements-for-tennis-playersNot only is tennis a very skilful sport, matches also involve incredible agility, lightening fast reflexes, repeated short bursts of high intensity action and can last for several hours.

So, whilst tennis players are highly reliant on their anaerobic energy systems, a strong aerobic capacity is also required to sustain levels of match play.

Although tennis matches are not continuous they can last a long time, which provides something of a challenge to any athlete’s carbohydrate capacity.

Tennis training

Tennis training is an essential part of the sport for the top professionals who can spend anything between 25 and 40 hours a week training, most of that time on court, but with periods also spent in such conditioning exercises as running, weightlifting and agility work.

for tennis players to optimise their on-court performances a diet rich in carbohydrate foods is essential to provide sufficient energy to maintain a high standard of play and assist in post match and training recovery

Indeed, at the elite levels training can often be more intense and physically demanding than the actual matches themselves.

Tennis nuitrition

To allow tennis players to optimise their on-court performances a diet rich in carbohydrate foods is therefore essential to provide sufficient energy to maintain a high standard of play and assist in post match and training recovery.

All serious tennis players from club to professional levels need to focus on eating nutrient-dense carbohydrate meals and snacks such as pasta, rice, bread, cereal, vegetables, fresh and dried fruit and dairy products.

Pre-match nutrition

What, you may ask, is the right way to go about eating before a tennis match?

The answer is, have a meal, high in carbohydrate and low in fat, two to three hours before the scheduled start of play.

Here are some menu suggestions that may help:

  • Pasta and tomato-based sauce or rice dish.
  • Muffins, crumpets, toast, or scones with jam or honey.
  • Fresh, dried or canned fruit, yoghurt and low fat milkshake.
  • Breakfast cereal and low fat milk.
  • A liquid meal supplement.

Nutrition during a tennis match

As for your nutritional intake during matches and training it all depends on the type, intensity and duration of the sessions involved.

As far as competitive matches are concerned you should take advantage of every break in play to consume water or a formulated sports drink, and carbohydrate snacks such as fruit (bananas are good), sports bars and muesli bars are also recommended, especially during longer matches.

Afterwards, within 30 minutes of the end of the tennis match, you should be looking to have a snack containing carbohydrates, protein and fluid – a bowl of cereal with fruit and milk is a good example.

Two and a half to three and a half hours later should come a more substantial meal which must retain those vital ingredients of carbohydrate, protein and fluids.

Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, matches can be delayed, or interrupted by poor weather, and on such occasions you should always be able to dip into a pre-packed store of ’emergency’ rations of carbohydrate-rich foods and liquid meal replacements.

Post-training nutrition

When you are going through an intense training period, with less than eight hours between sessions, it is necessary to start a recovery nutrition programme immediately after each session.

Your aim should be to consume between 50 and 100 grams of carbohydrate within half-an-hour of finishing training, and these snacks should always be combined with fluids to replace sweat losses.

If there is 12-24 hours recovery time there is no need to rush the carbohydrate intake, but the total amount consumed in that time should still be sufficient to replenish your stores.

Under such circumstances you should be looking at consuming things like an 880ml sports drink, three medium pieces of fruit, one large bread roll or fruit scone, two pancakes with maple syrup, two cereal/muesli bars, two 200 g cartons of yoghurt – but not the kind which has been artificially sweetened – one and a half cups of fruit salad with one tub of low fat yoghurt, a 250-350ml smoothie, or three slices of toast with honey or jam.

Optimise levels of body fat

Levels of body fat are also particular important for successful tennis players and you need to find your optimum weight.

If you are overweight you will be at a competitive disadvantage and may well find that your speed, agility and stamina are much compromised.

Body heat and sweating will also be increased, another factor that can lead to a deterioration in performance levels.

Some tennis players have been beguiled by magic diet pills, miracle cures and quick fixes – but they are not the answer.

Tips to help you manage your nutritional intake

Your aim should be a long term nutritional solution and the following hints could help towards that goal:

  • Sports dietician

    Consult a specialist sports dietician or nutritionalist to learn exactly how much you need for your training and recovery requirements.

  • Avoid extreme hunger

    A small, well chosen snack at the right time will prevent you from over-eating later on.

  • Eat slowly

    Chew properly and eat more slowly so you can feel when you have eaten enough. It also aids digestion.

  • High fibre foods

    High fibre foods can be more filling. Enjoy these regularly in meals and snacks.

  • Favourite foods

    Be careful with your favourite foods, especially those high energy, low nutritional value ones. Enjoy them in small quantities.

  • Good Hyrdation

    Drink water before and during your meal.

  • High fat, sugary foods

    Try to avoid high fat foods, sugary foods, and alcoholic drinks.

  • Keep a record

    Keep a food record to help you identify not only what and when you eat but why you eat. Are you hungry or just bored, upset, depressed, or tired?

  • High-energy fluids

    Take care with high-energy fluids such as fruit juice, cordials and fizzy drink: these can be an easy way to consume hidden, unnecessary calories.

  • Alternative rewards

    Find non-food ways of rewarding yourself for reaching training goals.

Tennis hydration

Your fluid requirements during training and in matches cannot be over-stressed.

Dehydration significantly impacts a tennis players standard of performance, so it is absolutely essential to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a match or training session.

Specially formulated sports drinks are ideal, not only do they help to maintain correct levels of hydration; they also contain carbohydrate to assist with the replacement of vital energy stores, and small amounts of electrolytes (salts) to replace what has been lost during training or competition.

When training or competing in hot conditions, extra attention needs to be given in this area, with refreshing fluids, as cool as possible, on hand to drink at every opportunity.

As dehydration adversely affects physical ability, skill levels and decision-making function, it goes without saying that it has to be avoided at all costs.

Following a match or an intense training session athlete fluid losses should always be carefully assessed – weighing before and after will give a good indication of the amount of fluid loss, and is considered the best method – the lost fluids should ideally be replaced as quickly as possible.

The recovery phase

After a tennis match or training has been completed, it is always advisable for players to follow the correct recovery procedure as, in many instances; this stage is just as important as the initial preparation stages, especially during periods of intensive training or competition.

There are three golden rules to a tennis players successful rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:

  • Refuel

    Refuel muscle glycogen (carbohydrate stores).

  • Repair

    Repair muscle tissue (for maintenance and development).

  • Rehydrate

    Rehydrate to replace fluids and salts lost through sweat.

Therefore your ideal recovery meals and snacks must contain carbohydrate (for fuel replacement), some protein (for muscle repair and/or gains) and plenty of fluids to replace sweat losses.

Want to get involved in tennis?

If you’re not currently involved in tennis as a recreational activity or competitive sport and are keen to learn more about taking part then read on. Here we’ve brought together a number of useful links to tennis organisations that may be able to help you.

  • The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)

    The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is the national governing body of tennis in Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The LTA was founded in 1888 and its overall purpose is to continue to grow and sustain the sport.

  • The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)

    The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) was formed in September 1972 to protect the interests of male professional tennis players. Since 1990, the association has organized the worldwide tennis tour for men. The ATP’s Executive Offices are in London, United Kingdom. ATP Americas is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, United States; ATP Europe is headquartered in Monaco; and ATP International, which covers Africa, Asia and Australasia, is based in Sydney, Australia.

  • Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)

    The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), founded in 1973 is the principal organizing body of women’s professional tennis. It governs the WTA Tour which is the worldwide professional tennis tour for women. The WTA’s corporate headquarters is in St. Petersburg, Florida. The European headquarters is in London, and the Asia-Pacific headquarters is in Beijing.

  • Tennis in Wikipedia

    Tennis is a racquet sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a racquet that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent’s court. The object of the game is to play the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a good return…

Need help with nutrition?

Get in touch now for more information about tennis nutrition and the use of sports supplements to improve your speed, strength, fitness, endurance and on-court performances. Our team of sports scientists and nutritionists are always happy to help.