Hydration is key in achieving peak performance on the tennis court.
© Garrett Ellwood
Looking for a performance boost? You may find the solution at the water cooler. Hydration is key in achieving peak performance on the tennis court. Research suggests you’ll see a drop in performance with just a two percent drop in body water (i.e. body weight)—that’s only about 2.5 pounds for a 130-pound person!
So how much water do you need to stay hydrated? The answer is different for everyone. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, one hydration plan does not fit every person or event. Body weight, gender, metabolism and fitness level are just a few factors that influence hydration needs. Temperature and clothing choice play an important role too.
Hydrate Before, During and After Play
A good personal hydration plan is one that brings you to your workout or competition well hydrated. Drink about 20 ounces of water or sports drink two hours before play, and be certain your urine is clear or pale yellow. A good rule of thumb during play is to drink during every changeover: 4-8 ounces (4-8 normal swallows) for a light to medium sweater, and 8-12 ounces for a heavy sweater or during warm and humid conditions. If your match or workout is less than 60 minutes, water replenishment is fine. If you are playing for more than one hour, hydrate with a sports drink to replenish both carbohydrates and sodium. A good hydration sports drink contains 6-8% carbohydrates and 110mg sodium per 8 ounces fluid.
If you are playing multiple matches or workouts over many days, it is helpful to weigh yourself before and after each session. One pound of lost sweat equals 16 ounces of fluid. Because we lose fluid other than sweat, a good guideline after play is to drink 20 ounces of water or a sports drink for every pound of body weight lost, and it is best to do so within a two hour period.
It’s also important to note that if you gain weight during your workout, you’re drinking too much and need to drink less.
While you should maintain your hydration level during exercise, it’s also important to maximize your hydration level throughout the day. Get into the habit of drinking water during the day—every day—not just on the days you plan to exercise. For this regular, daily hydration, go for water. Performance drinks contain calories your body doesn’t need. Consider carrying a water bottle with you. This will serve as a reminder to drink, and it’ll reduce the waste you’d produce buying multiple plastic bottles.
One of the best ways to know whether you’re drinking enough during the day is to check your urine, just as you do before going on the court. If you have a large volume of clear urine every two to four hours, you’re probably well hydrated; a small amount of concentrated urine, less frequently, means you’re probably dehydrated and could use more water.
Getting a handle on your hydration is one easy way to boost your performance on the court. Drink up!