Pre, During & Post Match
At the highest level of tennis, player food & drink intake is closely monitored, pre match, during match and post match. What habits can our junior players start to develop to help better performance as well as maintaining positive long term eating habits?
Below is an article from Optimum Tennis called “Tennis Diet – Learn Proper Tennis Nutrition”
A carefully planned tennis diet is essential to every high performance tennis athlete. Tennis players must learn proper tennis nutrition to maximize their on court skills.
The tennis diet before, during and after a match
Tennis is a kind of sport that involves intense physical activities. It is one type of a sport that nobody knows when it finishes until the final point is won. Thus, it is vital for every tennis player to have the aerobic capacity for them to have the endurance and tolerance to heat (if matches are held in hot climates) or any type of situation.
They also need to recover between matches to maintain optimum performance throughout the tournament. To achieve these objectives, tennis players need the proper and adequate tennis diet which is explained below.
Tennis Diet before a tennis match
The tennis diet before match may vary depending on the time of the day the match starts. However, the basic diet guide is to have a meal 3-4 hours before the match. The diet should contain high carbohydrates, moderate amount of protein, and low fat food. Some examples of foods that satisfy above requirements are chicken (preferably grilled), energy drink, fruits, and some low-sodium biscuit or cracker. One to two (1-2) hours before the tennis match, a small snack is best to take to avoid hunger during the time of the match. The snack can vary but the most common snack would be banana, energy drinks, energy bars and of course water for hydration. See below for more hydration drinks examples.
Every tennis player should eat a good and balanced breakfast before their tennis matches. It is the most important meal of the day not only for tennis players but for everybody. It is the meal that replenishes the depleted glycogen after the absence of food intake through the night. A proper Tennis diet is characterized by steady supply of energy. This means that they eat less quantity of food at a regular interval. This is important because eating a large quantity of food at one time can make tennis players slow and sluggish due to the digestive system overloading. It is also important for players not to eat too much of their needs to avoid fat depositions. However, they should also avoid starving themselves as very low food intake will also drain their glycogen storage which can result to fatigue.
Tennis Diet during a tennis match
During the match, tennis players use so much energy resulting to glycogen deposit depletion. The tennis diet during the match should be able to replenish the used-up glycogen. The type of diet that has the capacity to replenish used-up glycogen at the maximum rate is complex carbohydrate drinks. That is why if you watch tennis matches, you’ll notice the players drinking some drinks other than water. Some players also brings with them some snacks like banana and energy bars during the match.Players should remember that water intake should not be based on thirst. This means that players should not only drink water when they are thirsty. It is important for them to drink water or sports drinks every 15 minutes if possible. This is important to replenish the water and electrolytes they used up and lost through sweats.
Tennis Diet after the tennis match
With all the energy used up during the whole duration of the match, it is vital for players to recover from the drain. The tennis diet they have to take for recovery purposes are high-protein foods and high carbohydrates food and drinks. Examples of foods and drinks that are ideal to have after the matches include a high carbohydrate meal like rice, potatoes, etc. with a combination of lean meat for protein source. A natural sodium source food is also necessary like cheese. More examples are given below
Every after tennis match, most players are drained in terms of water, glycogen and electrolytes. Thus, it is necessary for them to recover and replenish all those lost nutrients and energy. Replenishment or recovery diet should be taken in within two hours after the match. Right after the match, players can start their recovery by drinking sports drink.
To effectively replenish the energy and nutrients lost during the match, a high-carbohydrate and high protein meal should be eaten. Again, this should happen within 2 hours after the match. If a player waits longer to have his recovery meal, the longer it takes for him to replenish the energy lost. When choosing the right recovery diet, every tennis player should put emphasis on restoring the fluid electrolytes and energy lost or used up.
There are cases that players have to play another match immediately after their first match. Normally this happens when a player is playing two types of tournaments (tennis singles and tennis doubles) and both his and her matches are scheduled on the same day. If the second match is scheduled 1-2 hours after the end of the first match, the player should focus on his or her rehydration and carbohydrate intake.
Ideally, the player should take about 50-100 grams of carbohydrates for him or her to have the required energy for optimum performance. However, if the time interval between the end of the first match and the start of the second match is longer (4-5 hours), the pre-match diet recommendation can be followed.
Examples of a proper tennis diet
In the tennis backhand, tennis players should focus on the most fundamental commonalities which the top pro players share in their own tennis backhand. By learning to model the tennis strokes of the pros, particularly the backhand shot – a tennis player can have a better grasp of the proper tennis technique.
Water is the most important drink for everybody and for every player. Tennis players should drink an adequate amount of water regularly and especially if a match is approaching. Ideally, the water intake should not be lower than eight glasses a day. This is vital to maintain strength and physical fitness during and after matches.
Other sources of liquids are fresh fruit juices, milk and decaffeinated coffee and tea. Caffeinated drinks should be avoided especially before, during and after matches. For best results, zero caffeine consumption should be maintained all throughout. Sport drinks is another type of hydration drink but it’s intake should be minimized in the absence of any physical activities. Very high sugar content in drinks and fruits should also be avoided, especially during matches.
Carbohydrates, Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fruits are also very important to be included in the tennis diet for every player. They are the main sources of nutrients and minerals. Examples are the leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, cabbage vegetable and many others. There are a lot of choices of vegetables depending on the nutrients and minerals they provide. Squash and carrots for instance are examples of beta carotenoid source vegetables.
Fruits also come in different forms and they also vary on the vitamins and minerals they provide. Citrus fruits like orange, clementine, grapefruit, pomelo and many others are good sources of Vitamin C. Berries fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or strawberries are just examples of fruits containing antioxidant. Banana is considered as the complete fruit because it contains lots of nutrients and minerals.