For a tennis player, choosing what goes in your body is every bit as important as what goes on your body before you head out to the court. Your body is the most important piece of equipment you’ll ever have, and like any valuable tool, it needs to be maintained for maximum proficiency.
Following are some common questions asked with regards to proper athletic nutrition;
- How can improving one’s diet result in better performance?
A player needs to have good stamina and endurance to be successful. The primary place this comes from is fuel stored in the body. In addition to endurance, a player needs a clear head to focus and be able to make quick decisions on the court. Being hydrated goes a long way toward mental steadfastness. It boils down to the fact that when you’re eating well and taking care of yourself, you avoid illness and feel better overall.
- What are the best foods to eat before a match, and why?
At game time you are eating for raw fuel on the court so keep the amount small and go for pure carbohydrates such as dried fruits, pastas, and breads. Off court, at mealtimes, is when you want to focus on the big picture of your overall nutrition and eat balanced meals.
- Is there a particular food we can eat to increase speed on the court?
Caffeine can give you a mental boost. As long as you don’t overdo it, it won’t dehydrate you. Nor will it hydrate.
- What’s the best way to avoid an energy slump during play?
Know how long you expect to be playing because if you wait until you’re already feeling the slump, you aren’t going to be able to recover in time; i.e. while the game is still happening. You need 30-60 grams of carbs for every forty-five minutes to an hour of active play. Some sports bars provide that much as well as some of energy gels.
- What should we eat later, once the game is over and we’re home?
Immediately following a game, you will have depleted your resources and will want to get a head start on recovery straight away, so hydrate and snack on something like almonds. Later you can eat a balanced meal such as: chicken stir fry, a piece of fish with a sweet potato and broccoli, or a turkey sandwich with some carrot sticks and a bowl of berries.
- What are these “electrolytes” everyone is always going on about?
Sodium and Potassium are the two main electrolytes of concern as they are responsible for muscular contraction, hydration balance, and fluid balance in your body. Cramping is usually the result of an electrolyte imbalance and/or a sodium issue. Sports drinks are so popular because they have an optimal ratio of sodium to potassium, which replenishes what you’re losing.
- Water or sports drinks to rehydrate?
Water will always be the best source of hydration. However, if you’re going to be playing for extended periods of time, especially in the heat, sports drinks are designed to quickly replace what you have sweated out, water and minerals alike.
Maintaining a healthy body and mind are essential to dominating the court. For more information on proper athletic nutrition and training, speak with one of our on-staff tennis instructors or schedule a private lesson at the front desk.