Monday, August 12, 2013

Pickleball Tip of Week #22

I got this article from Stu, one of our club members.

1. TRAIN HARD: Train hard now to get in phenomenal physical shape before competing 
during the hot summer months. Physically fit athletes handle the hot and humid 
conditions better because they are able to consume and utilize more oxygen per 
breath. Their ability to handle mild increases in core temperature gives them a 
distinct on-court advantage over opponents who are not in the same physical shape.

2. HYDRATE - Drinking high volumes of carbohydrate & electrolyte-enhanced fluids will 
prepare the athlete and help limit the severe loss of fluids and electrolytes during 
play. Since tennis players can lose between one-fourth of a gallon and three-fourths 
gallon per hour it is important to make sure they do not go onto the court already 
dehydrated. As much as 50 percent of tournament players go into matches already 
dehydrated. We as coaches need to educate our players on the importance of 
hydrating not only during the match, but also the night before and the morning of 
the match. For every 1 percent of body weight that is lost due to sweating, the 
athlete's heart rate rises approximately five to 10 beats per minute. This means that 
the athlete's body will need to work much harder to produce the same result. It is 
important to remember that the fluids consumed need to have appropriate levels of 
electrolytes, specifically sodium, so as not to dilute the electrolyte levels in the body 
(hyponatremia, see tip 3).

3. SODIUM - Consume high-sodium food and drink. Sodium is the major electrolyte lost 
in the sweat, and it is directly related to an athlete's likelihood of cramping. An easy 
way to tell if your players are "salty sweaters" is whether a white residue is left on 
dark-colored clothing or hats. This white residue is salt deposits released from the 
sweat. The higher the athlete's salt concentration in the sweat, the more this white 
residue will show up on their apparel during and after a long match or practice 
session in hot and humid conditions. Another important reason to consume enough 
sodium in the diet and fluids is that athletes who consume large amounts of plain 
water without enough sodium may experience a condition known as hyponatremia, 
or "water intoxication." Diluting the body's sodium stores can have potentially life threatening consequences.
Make sure that rehydration is performed with sodium enriched fluids. However, if the athlete has a medical condition that affects the 
kidneys, heart or blood pressure, it is important to speak to a physician prior to 
increasing the sodium in the diet.

4. BALANCED DIET - A balanced diet is important for all athletes from a general 
performance standpoint and especially in regard to heat-related issues. A balanced 
diet with the needed carbohydrates, fats and protein, as well as the required 
vitamins and minerals, ensures that the tennis player is not deficient in any one 
area. It may also be beneficial for athletes to have their blood work analyzed once or 
twice per year to make sure they are consuming appropriate nutrients (especially 
vitamins and minerals).

5. COOLING - Use ice and other cooling mechanisms to keep the core body 
temperature cool before, during and after practice and competition. Individuals who 
go into hot and humid environments with lower core body temperatures to start with 
have been shown to perform better than when they go into situations with slightly 
higher core temperatures. This process of pre-cooling has shown positive results and 
is something that can be accomplished by tennis players before they go onto the 
court for matches during the hot and humid summer months. Vests are available 
that can store ice for a long period of time and cover the core of the body to help 
lower body temperature. If pre-cooling techniques are used before practice or 
competition, it is advised not to put ice directly on the joints or limbs (arms and 
legs), but instead focus on the core of the body to help reduce core body 

6. CARBOHYDRATES - Maintain blood glucose (sugar) levels throughout a 
match/practice. If an athlete does not consume enough carbohydrates before and 
during the match, energy that can be used for the working muscles is reduced, and 
this will result in the body using other processes to generate fuel for the working 
muscles. These other processes are not as efficient and require more steps to 
produce usable energy for the body. These extra steps require the body to work 
harder, resulting in greater core temperatures.

7. WEAR SUNSCREEN! Sunburn increases skin temperature and makes the body less 
efficient at body cooling. Most of us have been sunburned and had the feeling of heat 
dissipating from the skin. This process limits the amount of heat that will be moved 
from the core to the periphery (skin) and limits the ability to cool as efficiently as 

1. Falk B. Effects of thermal stress during rest and exercise in the paediatric population. 
Sport Med. 1998;25:221-240.
2. Moran DS. Potential applications of heat and cold stress indices to sporting events. 
Sport Med. 2001;31:909-917.

Mark Kovacs, PhD, FACSM, CTPS, CSCS

Dr. Kovacs is a former All-American and NCAA tennis champion. His background involves
directing the sport science division for the USTA and is a founding member of the 
International Tennis Performance Association ( which is the leading
organization in tennis fitness, performance education and certification. He is also an author 
of five books including Dynamic Stretching, Tennis Anatomy and Tennis Training: Enhancing 
On-Court Performance and is currently the Director of the Gatorade Sport Science Institute. 
Follow Mark on twitter @mkovacsphd

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