We all know that drinking water throughout the day is important, but why are so many of us not doing it? In a recent study done by the USPTA researchers found that approximately 50 percent of tennis players go into their match already dehydrated. (1) In this month’s blog, “Get Hydrated,” we will be learning about how dehydration effects athletic performance and some ideas to help you stay hydrated throughout the day and during a tennis match.
The Effects of Dehydration
Water is a crucial component for your body. The water in your body helps with the transportation of nutrients, regulation of body temperature and being properly hydrated helps your muscles move optimally. (2) Now that you have a basic understanding of a few of the tasks that water helps perform in our body you may be wondering how does being dehydrated negatively affect my tennis performance or tennis training? When an athlete’s body is 1-2% percent dehydrated player’s will see a reduction in their athletic performance. (3) When your body is in a dehydrated state it has to work harder in order to maintain the same output. For example, if you were hydrated your heart might only have to be pumping 150 bpm during the longer rally, but if you are dehydrated your heart will have to be beating at more than 150 bpm to maintain that same level of output. This “extra strain” that is caused from being dehydrated can cause a significant problem in tennis. Players sometimes have to be on the court for many hours during a tournament. It is important for any player to mitigate any additional stress that can be prevented. Tennis in many cases is a survival of the fittest.
Another major problem that affects tennis players who are dehydrated is their core body temperature. In a study done by the Korey Stringer Institute researches discovered that an athlete who is 2% more dehydrated then their opponent will have a 1-degree higher core temperature. (4) The Korey Stringer Institute also discovered that a 60 to 90-minute exercise can cause a person to become 3 to 4 percent dehydrated if they have not been refueling properly. (5) These two statistics are important for all tennis players to be aware of. Firstly, a higher body temperature can lead to players having cramps or dizziness during their match or worse having too high of a core body temperature can be a safety concern for tennis players during the summer. Secondly, many tennis matches last longer than 90 minutes. As shown above if half of tennis players start their match dehydrated then after most player’s first match of the tournament, they could conceivably be more then 3 to 4 percent dehydrated before they even start their second singles match of the day.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
The easiest way for an athlete to stay hydrated throughout their normal day is to have water easily accessible to you at all times of the day. The common phrase “Out of Sight Out of Mind” is an important phrase to keep in mind when you are trying to keep your body hydrated. When water is within an arm’s reach of you, you will be far more likely to drink water. If the closest place to get a drink during your day at school is the water fountain outside of your class you will be drinking far less water throughout the day then if you had a water bottle at your desk.
The second tip to help staying hydrated throughout the day is to be conscious of the color of your urine. The chart to the right has multiple shades of yellow on it. The more yellow your urine is the more dehydrated you are. By constantly being aware of this you can always have an idea if you need to drink more water. The urine color guideline is not a perfect method, but having a general idea on your hydration levels is a good tool to have.
Proper hydration is an important part of an athlete’ physical fitness training. If you want the most out of all your tennis practices and USTA matches try to keep a water bottle within arm’s reach at all times and focus on staying hydrated this month. Remember approximately half of all tennis players begin their tennis match already dehydrated. At On The Rise let’s keep the glass half full rather than half empty and be hydrated before we get on the court.