Pocari Sweat image taken from prettyprettyyumyum.com website. May be subject to copyright. For more information about hydration and the drinks that help athletes hydrate, I highly recommend to visit the web site www.otsuka.co.jp

Even happens to the best. Prepared for the match, practiced on the best strokes for hours, tactically and physically super fit and ready but something happened and the match is lost.

It may take a very small body water deficit (1-2% of body weight) to significantly reduce the physical and mental capacity of the tennis players. This small deficit will challenge a player’s on-court abilities (the core and muscle temperature are consequently high, the muscle glycogen will be used at a faster rate which results in the increased muscle lactate production, leading to early fatigue ) and decrease the performance.

At the tennis match or even a practice, for the players to be very much aware of happenings around them so they could generate the proper decision as a response to the perceived action from the other side of the net, they need to understand how much does nutrition and hydration influence their performance, especially when in combination with the environmental elements such are heat and humidity.

Playing tennis, as it’s a physical activity produces a lot of body heat, causing the rising of the body temperature. The body is dealing mostly with it with the process of evaporation (sweating). Sweating (as I will mention afterwards the whys) and the way the electrolyte balance is handled presents the serious challenge for many tennis players. Furthermore, if fluid balance (fluid lost in relation to fluid recovered) and thermoregulation are not effectively managed, the player becomes dehydrated or overheated, and will fatigue early and lose the match. Even in the more serious cases heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat stroke may occur.

SWEATING AS BODY RESPONSE TO HIGH TEMPERATURE

In warm conditions, tennis players can lose between 1 to 2.5 liters of sweat per hour during a match or practice. Sweat rates can increase up to 3.5 liters per hour (better adaptation to the hot conditions more sweating) with high-level players who are competing in very hot and humid conditions. As environmental stress (higher temperature and humidity) and the performance demands increases, the potential for a higher sweating rate increases too. As the intensity of play increases, the body metabolic rate increases which leads to the condition that sweating rate is correspondingly increasing to respond to the progressive rise in the core body temperature. Higher sweating rate presents condition of a good adaptation, as it gives a player a thermoregulatory advantage, although, more extensive sweating represents a greater challenge to the player, especially during play.

WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR BODY WHEN WE SWEAT

Sweat looks like water and mostly is, but it also contains many elements found in the blood, including minerals such are sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-).
When sweating rate increases, the concentration of these minerals in sweat increases as well (sweat sodium and chloride losses are characteristically low in the junior players, but electrolyte losses tend to increase with age). Extended tennis play in hot and humid weather can lead to large sodium and chloride losses. Without adequate salt replacement, progressive sodium deficit can occur after several days of playing or training in the heat. This can lead to incomplete rehydration, poorer performance, heat- related muscle cramps and put a player in a risk of heat exhaustion. As for other electrolytes, potassium (K+) and magnesium (Mg2+) sweat losses are usually lower (players will generally lose 3-10 times more sodium then potassium during play).

WHY IS IMPORTANT FLUID INTAKE FOR TENNIS.. and YOUR HEALTH?

 

During the physical activity the blood flow from the heart (cardiac output) increases, so that the vital areas of our body like brain, heart etc. and the muscles that are activated by the activity receive an adequate amount of blood. At the conditions when the body temperature increases, a big portion of the central blood volume goes to the skin, to respond to the needs of the body thermoregulation through sweating (evaporation) so as through radiation and convection. Even the sweating takes a great deal of energy by itself as the water molecules have to be changed from a liquid to a gas (evaporating water (sweat)).

In these conditions, for a heart to keep the stabile cardiac output, the heart rate goes up.
If sweating continues and fluid is not fully replaced, the player becomes dehydrated and the blood volume is reduced, putting the body into situation of an internal struggle as the body needs to decide what are the primary needs to keep the body healthy and functional. The central blood flow to the muscles and organs is of the most importance, so in these situations the skin blood flow is reduced, despite an increase in core temperature. As the core body temperature continues to increase, without the adequate blood flow to support the cooling down mechanism of the body, a player is at the risk of the heat illness.

GETTING READY BEFORE THE MATCH STARTS!

1. PREMATCH HYDRATION is a prevention method and the player should be drinking more fluids before going to sleep. To achieve better retention of fluids, and to restore electrolytes to balance (primarily sodium) prior to competition, tomato juice or a salted sport drink (up to 3 grams of salt per liter) can be consumed the night before and again in the morning. The color of urine can be a good indication of adequate prematch hydration. By the color of urine (lighter, the better), the player can be aware if it takes more fluid intake to be prepared for the match.

2. PREMATCH NUTRITIONAL TIPS. By replenishing carbohydrates, the player can improve hydration status as muscle glycogen also has a fair amount of water stored with it. Variety of salty foods (cheese, tomato sauce, soup etc.) contain certain levels of sodium and these can be appropriate and nutritious choices in a dietary plan.

3. Prematch carbohydrate and hydration status can be further enhanced by progressively reducing training volume prior to a tournament or a match as the player has a better chance to restore carbohydrates, improve fluid and electrolyte balance, and adequately rest and recover prior to competition.

4. Approximately 1.5 hours before the match, about 500 ml of sport drink should be consumed, in order to replenish completely carbohydrate and body water storages. Players can have more fluids right up to their match, but too much can create a need to urinate when the game begins.

FIRST THING THAT THE PLAYER SHOULD DO AFTER THE MATCH IS DONE IS TO REHYDRATE THE BODY. BUT, UNLESS THERE IS SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF SODIUM AND CHLORIDE TO REPLACE THE LOST AMOUNT DURING THE ACTIVITY, REHYDRATION IS NOT EFFICIENT.

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