Some people are simply unable to participate in any sports while also eating and drinking something other than water. However, tennis players are notorious for using changeovers to eat and drink throughout a long match. It might seem crazy to some people, but it makes perfect sense to others.
What do tennis players drink and eat during matches? Every single player drinks some type of rehydrating fluid, whether it be plain water or a sports drink concoction. As far as food goes, bananas and energy bars are the two most common items spotted.
Getting Enough Water During a Match
Nearly every athlete has experienced some form of dehydration in their life. Whether it be dry mouth or muscle cramping, it’s an extremely frustrating experience for anyone to go through. The body can feel like it is completely helpless, and the pain is so severe that people can be completely overwhelmed.
Tennis players need to start hydrating well before the match, consuming a good amount of water before stepping onto the court. Even in cool, ideal conditions, a player is going to sweat a lot while on the court. Players need more than water to stay physically fit, but that is detailed a little later.
The most important thing every athlete needs is water, and tennis players need it more than most. A player can survive an entire match with just water, even if the top pro players do a little more than that.
During every changeover, most tennis players will take at least a sip of water. Players need to drink water even if they are not particularly thirsty. The good thing about tennis changeovers is that it allows for a decent amount of breaks so that a player can get properly hydrated during that time.
Drinks Used Other Than Water
Watch any tennis match on television, and there are other drinks people rely on consistently other than water. While it is somewhat of a mystery exactly what every top player uses, most are finding ways to replenish any used up glycogen. The more energy a player uses, the faster their glycogen deposits deplete. It can zap a player’s energy in a hurry if it is not properly treated.
Every one of those drinks includes some type of complex carbohydrate. Sometimes, the color is different depending on what flavor a player likes. A trainer usually puts together the perfect formula depending on weather conditions and time of day. Sometimes, a player might not need as much during a match.
The top players in the world have studies done on their bodies so that they know exactly what needs to be put into it to give them a good advantage.
It’s not impossible to see top players in the world cramp up, but it is still very rare. Without the help of a drink with complex carbohydrates, a six-hour match will usually result in some significant cramping from at least one player.
What Tennis Players Eat During Matches
There are a lot of sports where players eat while playing, but tennis players aren’t exactly eating for enjoyment. Everything they put in their bodies during a match is meant to help out in a big way.
Bananas are a very popular, natural option for tennis players to turn to. They are known as one of the best ways to fight against cramping, which is a tennis player’s worst nightmare.
As soon as a tennis player starts to cramp, it’s nearly impossible for them to continue playing. Cramps don’t go away fast enough, and they can’t be treated like an injury. Therefore, players either play through it or retire.
Bananas act pretty quickly, nourishing the body and helping with energy levels overall. They are also very easy to throw into a tennis bag when heading to the courts. At the recreational level, it also helps that bananas are one of the cheapest foods a person can buy at the market.
Energy bars also provide some needed nutrients when a person is playing tennis at a high level. They are usually packed with some protein and carbohydrates, which can help the muscles stay sharp and the energy level state up.
A lot of energy bars work pretty much the same way, so again, it’s up to personal preference on what flavor to go with. Usually, one energy bar or one banana per set is about the maximum you will see a person eat. No player wants to have food bouncing around their stomachs and messing up their game in that way.
When shopping for energy bars, stay away from those that have a lot of added processed sugar. It is capable of providing some quick energy boost, but it usually is not sustainable for an athlete. It’s better to go with something that doesn’t rely on loading up energy bars to make them taste a lot like candy bars.
What Tennis Players Eat Before & After A Match
Eating and drinking during a match are usually pretty light, but preparation and recovery is just as important in tennis. If a player doesn’t take those extra steps, they could be putting themselves at risk for the next match. Eventually, A bad diet catches up.
Tennis players have their own routines, but most try to eat about three or more hours before a match. This can change a bit, depending on how the match before going on court plays out.
Players focus on a diet that is high in carbohydrates, high in protein, and low in fat. Chicken is always a huge favorite, as well as fruits and vegetables. Any type of lean meat will work instead of chicken, and there are also some great vegan options out there to get protein as well.
Trying to rush a big meal too close to the start of a match is going to leave a player feeling rather sluggish on the court. The digestive system needs time to work its magic, so eating should never feel rushed. If for one reason or another a player is starving right before a match, a light energy bar or banana works.
Diet restrictions relax a little bit after a match, but this is still a good time to help with recovery. Depending on the length of the match and the weather conditions, a player can feel like they are completely exhausted after a long battle.
The best way to bounce back for recovery purposes is to focus on a lot of protein, a lot of carbohydrates, and a lot of fluids. Rice and potatoes are two very filling foods that tennis players will feast on. A player doesn’t need to eat right away, but it helps to do so within the first two hours after a match.
The purpose of drinking fluids is to replenish electrolytes and build up energy going forward. Everyone has dealt with those cramps in the middle of the night, and a proper diet should fight against that. Remember to always drink more when possible.
It Comes Down To Personal Preference
At the end of the day, tennis players have their own routines. Some players eat during every single match, and it is a habit more than anything. Maybe it helps them take their mind off of the match, or it relaxes them in other ways.
There are also plenty of other people who don’t want anything in their mouths. Maybe they feel like eating something will leave a weird taste in their mouth that will distract them from playing tennis. Some people just don’t like the taste of bananas, energy bars, or sports drinks. If a good diet is followed off of the court, water is sufficient enough for the vast majority of people.
The most important thing to remember is the connection between a good diet and quality play. A tennis player won’t reach their full potential unless their body is well taken care of before, during, and after each match.