Tennis Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Tennis Players
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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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.