Tennis ranks among the most flexible sports around. Whether you prefer indoor or outdoor play or have a preference for a specific surface, there are a few barriers to entry, but conditions aren’t usually one of them. Even at the highest professional level, tournaments are played across hard courts, clay and grass. However, if there’s one thing tennis players, from amateur to professional standards appreciate, it’s some good weather.
Those aforementioned professional tournaments can be rained off if conditions become too bad, and sunny weather is often preferred. However, it might become a little too hot for some, and it’s essential to take care of yourself out there in the sun. Get it right with these 10 tips.
1. Keep Your Hydration Levels Up
If you regularly join us here at 10 Tips for your fix of helpful advice, you might think we’re obsessed with water. While we wouldn’t quite go that far, we appreciate the importance of hydration whether you’re pushing yourself or doing nothing at all. When it comes to playing tennis in hot conditions, it becomes the number one priority. You’ll sweat out plenty of water in normal circumstances, but when it’s particularly hot, you need to account not only for what you usually lose but a little extra too.
You can lose up to 80 ounces of water during an hour of play in the heat, so you need to make plans to get all that water back into yourself in a timely manner, as there’s nothing like dehydration to impact your performance negatively.
2. Take Steps to Keep Your Drinks Cold
Drinking water is one thing but, given a choice, you should always opt to drink it cold. The chances are you can’t wheel a refrigerator onto the court, so you’ll have to make other considerations. A cool bag usually does the trick, or you might want to consider a drinks bottle that guarantees to keep the contents cold for a number of hours. Cold water is absorbed quicker than its warmer equivalent, and when you’re losing water at that kind of rate, it’s best to get it back on board as quickly as possible.
3. Use a Hydration Schedule On Court
It’s not enough to drink extra water before the match. If you’re playing competitively, the chances are that the organisers aren’t blind to the conditions around them and will schedule appropriate water breaks. If it’s down to you, then the best advice we can give is to make a point of not forgetting to take on water during the match. Set a timer if you have to – just ensure you stay on top of things!
4. Ban Diuretics Around Game Day
That’s three full tips dedicated to hydration that we’ve got through so far, so it makes sense to talk about avoiding anything that could interfere with your plans. Alcohol and sport don’t mix at the best of times – not if you’re playing, anyway – so it makes sense to steer clear from at least the day before. Coffee can have the same effects on your water balance, so stick with water and sports drinks around the time of the game.
5. Upgrade Your Sporting Wardrobe
You could be a complete amateur, or you might be on the pro tour. If you fall into the former category, there’s no better time to ditch the t-shirt or replica from your favourite football team. Even if you only play in hot conditions on occasion, it’s worth getting your hands on specialist tennis clothing with a focus on flexibility and breathability.
6. Use a Cap or Sweatband
In the very hottest conditions, you might find yourself sweating from places you didn’t even know were there. However, the predictable areas can’t be overlooked, and the last thing you need in a close game is for sweat to get in your eyes and throw you off. Fortunately, you don’t need to do anything too exotic here, as a sweatband or baseball cap will keep that sweat above your brow where it might be a little uncomfortable, but won’t affect your vision.
7. Conserve Energy by Playing Close to the Net
This isn’t the easiest tip going, but if you have the skills in your locker, it might be worth adapting your game based on the weather. If you typically rely on speed and stamina and enjoy playing near the baseline, there’s more chance of gassing out than usual. If you’re almost equally competent as a net player, you might have to let some shots go but you’ll spend far less time running to the most optimal position on the court.
8. Save Your Best for Last
If you typically start out quickly against unfamiliar opponents, that’s another change you can potentially make. Your lower-effort game may be enough to see them off. If not, you’ll have plenty left in the tank to recover later, especially if they’ve started quickly and start to fall away as the game goes on.
9. Be as Flexible as You Can when Choosing Court Times
In competitive play, you’re often told when the match is and expected to be there on time. If your tennis is more leisurely, you should consider the best time of day to play. Let’s say you’re on holiday in an impossibly warm country and want to squeeze in as much game time as you can. It may be worth saving your games for the evening where possible, beating the bulk of the daytime heat.
10. Don’t Neglect the Warm Down
The game might be finished, but the work isn’t over quite yet. A tennis match can be stressful on the body at the best of times, but it can be even worse in the heat. Never neglect the warm-down after an intense game, and don’t forget the importance of fluids that we tried so hard to promote during the first three tips!