Maybe you are wondering who would even want to play tennis when the ambient temperature is 93 degrees and on-court it’s actually 110.
Well, if you are a competitive player, then the only choice you may have is to play your match or default. Knowing how to manage the heat can make the difference between you playing some great tennis during hostile conditions or your body failing and potentially putting you in a medical situation.
Here is your checklist to help you or your child to beat the heat:
STEP 1. PREPARE YOUR BODY EARLY
For those who have resided in the northeast for a long time, it is a common feeling that there is little transition from winter to summer. One minute the temperatures hover around freezing and then suddenly there are days in the 80’s.
If you speak with teaching pros who work with students going from indoor to outdoor conditions, it is not uncommon for them to have students getting headaches, feeling lethargic and even vomiting within 15-30 minutes of their first day in the warm outdoors.
The human body is an incredible machine of adaptation, however it does have its limits. Going from months of cold to instant warm/hot can cause such a reaction. The good news is that it typically only requires a few times of being in those conditions for the body to adjust. It is the same when going from spring to summer. If temperatures have been in the 60’s or 70’s and suddenly a player is thrust into 90 degree temperatures, it’s going to take some time to acclimate.
What can be done to adapt sooner? Don’t avoid the heat and start slowly. If it’s Monday with a high of 75 degress and you have a big match on Saturday when the forecast says 92, then try to get out before Saturday and do some light playing beforehand. Just being outside in warmer conditions a few days before can make a huge difference.
STEP 2. HYDRATE BEFORE YOU GO ONTO THE COURT
A common mistake players make is that they often only drink when they feel thirsty. Imagine playing on a hot day when you have already started out being slightly dehydrated! This can be exactly what happens because the thirst response has not kicked in yet. Try to drink a glass of water over the course of 30 minutes before stepping onto the hot asphalt. Now you will have some reserves of H2O to keep you hydated so that you can continue to hydrate during play.
STEP 3. PROPER ATTIRE & ACCESSORIES
As many of us know, some sun exposure is good, but too much sun exposure without protection is not. Most people understand the importance of sunscreen, however there other protective measures that players should be taking. Try to get used to at least playing wearing a hat or visor at a minimum. Although many pros don’t, wearing sunglasses with UV protection has started to catch on. Tennis luminary, Chris Evert, wishes she had done exactly that and here’s why.
On very hot sunny days, try to wear white as much white as possible. White will reflect sunlight while darker colors absorb it. That sunlight is then converted into heat. No one wants to be absorbing heat on a hot day!
STEP 4. KEEPING COOL ON THE COURT
Now that you have done all of your prep work, it’s time to regulate your body during the match:
- Take advantage of the time allowed between points (25 seconds) and the time between changeovers (90 seconds).
- Drink consistently between changeovers.
- Keep a cooler on the court with an ice pack. Not only will it keep your drink cool, but if you put it on your neck or head where there is a large amount of blood flow. It will help to remove the heat more quickly and it will feel incredibly refreshing.
- Understand the importance of a towel. The reason we sweat is because when moisture is on our skin, the heat from our skin causes the moisture to evaporate and this is what cools us off. When it’s humid, our sweat does not evaporate as readily which is why we have more difficulty keeping cool. If you have a towel, wiping the sweat off will remove the moisture along with the heat it contains.
By following this four-step process, you should be able to play under grueling conditions and remain intact!