By Lamar Scott, Men’s League Vice President
The Spring ALTA Season is finally arriving. As we gear up for the weekly practices and weekend matches, we all can agree that weather will be a factor in our performance. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for playing your best and beating the heat this spring season.
General fitness & conditioning: This is a common cause of many heat-related problems for tennis players. Many of us just don’t train appropriately for the conditions. Remember that tennis is all about quick, explosive movements over short periods of time, with short recovery periods (less than 25 seconds). You have to ensure that you train specifically for the demands of the game; not training appropriately may cause you to be unprepared for the elements.
Nutrition: Tennis-specific nutrition is highly individual, and each player has different nutritional requirements based on their training habits, game style, energy needs, and bodies in general. Remember that everyone burns different amounts of fats and carbohydrates throughout the day and especially during a tough match or workout. Having a plan is important.
A healthy breakfast on competition days is one that includes carbohydrates, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and low-calorie fruits; these will keep a steady energy store to power through the matches later on in the day. Because you exert so much energy while playing, a perfect snack during a match is a banana, which will provide potassium and a quick energy boost mid-match.
Hydration: Proper hydration is key when it comes to playing in the heat, and especially with regard to cramping. The balance of hydration between how much you sweat and how much you drink is a challenge. During matches, especially in the heat, many players may try to overdrink; this is a significant problem as well, especially if the drink is just water. It’s always possible that you will be losing a lot of fluids, so you should prepare in the days leading up to your matches, and then come prepared to hydrate with not only water, but drinks to help replace the sodium and potassium you’ll lose during match play.
Emotional control: Developing strategies to cope with hot and humid conditions is important for this spring season, and beyond. Of course, we always want to abide by and respect the timing rules between games, but having well defined routines between points and changeovers is crucial, especially to conserve energy. Players who are highly emotional, talkative, or generally burn a lot of excessive energy may experience more problems, simply due to more calories being burned each minute.
We all know that ALTA is predicated on being fun, social, and competitive. If we follow just a few steps in preparation for our approaching matches, we can ensure a healthy, competitive, and fun spring season for everyone.