STARNBERG, September 29, 2023 (Guest Post)
Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it’s also one of the only ones where you have only yourself to rely on when you’re on the field. Unlike most popular sports such as football, basketball, rugby, and more, tennis is a lonesome activity, and it requires tremendous mental strength and physical preparation to be at the top of the game.
Typically, tennis matches are played during warmer seasons (summer and spring), and players are expected to be able to deal with all sorts of weather conditions – heat, humidity, light rain, cold – you name it, it happens on the professional tour. Along with that, unlike team sports, in tennis, you have only yourself to rely on – so if you have even a tiny injury, it could quickly derail and sideline you, and you might end up losing an important game.
Considering all of that, you might now be thinking – well, how do tennis players prepare? What are their nutrition and supplementation like? And thankfully, we’re here to give an answer to that second question in the next paragraphs.
What Supplements Do Tennis Players Take?
We all know what a tennis game looks like – there’s a lot of running back and forth, and to the sides, there’s not a whole lot of rest, and players are expected to hit shots while sprinting around the court. Basically, throughout an entire game of tennis, you’re expected to be light and quick on your feet the whole time. That, in return, turns the sport into an intense cardio session, and players are often drenched, even in a few games in, especially in humid and hot conditions. Additionally, in tennis tournaments, the competitors play back-to-back matches, meaning you play today, tomorrow and the day after with no rest days in between, so they have to ensure they can recover well in order to maintain performance.
Now that you know that recovery and endurance are the most important aspects that tennis nutrition has to ensure, let’s talk about what supplements the players typically take.
Probably every athlete drinks some form of protein powder, and there are multiple reasons for that. Protein is one of the main macronutrients, and it’s known as the building block of all the muscles in our bodies, which is why it’s essential for both recovery and muscle building. After an intense training session or a match, our muscles take a beating, and protein is what helps speed up the recovery process so that they rebuild quickly and are ready to go the next day. For that reason, post-match and post-practice, most tennis players down a protein shake of some sort – vegan, isolate, whey, whatever their preference is, and they also combine it with a carb of choice.
While we’re on the topic of recovery, we can’t go without mentioning BCAAs. BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids, and they’re typically found in all sorts of protein products. Their main function is to help the body in the process of building protein in the muscle, as well as reduce muscle breakdown, making them the ideal supplement for during the match and during the recovery process. For some people, they also help with hydration, as they make you drink more water by usually flavoring it with some kind of fruity taste.
As we already mentioned, tennis players play in the sun, heat, and humidity for hours at a time, which leads to a ton of sweating. We all know that when you sweat, you not only lose water, but your body also gets rid of salt and vital minerals, which help keep your muscles functioning properly. If you get dehydrated as an athlete, that can quickly lead to cramps, muscle soreness, and fatigue. That’s when electrolytes enter the conversation as they enable you to get back in the system some of those key minerals, vitamins, carbs, and salt, which is why they’re a must-have drink for all tennis players, both during matches and in practice.
If you’ve ever watched a longer tennis match, one that lasts more than 2 hours, then you’ve likely seen players “eating” energy gels during breaks. These gels typically have jelly-like consistency and contain carbs and salt, which are essential energy sources for when you need to perform at your best, and your body is depleted of nutrients. Apart from energy gels, players also tend to eat fruit such as dates or bananas for the very same reason – to get a boost of energy during the contest.
Tennis is all about being able to endure the game and then being able to recover as quickly as possible. And that’s what supplementation for the players is trying to help them achieve. Of course, in order to be at the top of the game, along with good supplements, you also need proper nutrition, sleep, and a rigorous training schedule – essentials that you should always keep in the back of your mind.