Tennis is a very challenging sport on both the mind and body. Staying mentally focused during a three-hour match is tough. The body needs the correct fuel to maintain fast reaction times, quick foot work and optimal stroke technique for the whole duration.
Tennis performance is fuelled via both the aerobic and anaerobic pathways, short, sharp movements which need to be maintained consistently for a period of time. I have previously spoken about the importance of optimal fluid and electrolyte intake to maintain tennis performance…
Today I want to talk about the power of carbohydrates…
Firstly, what are they? Carbohydrates are foods made up of individual sugar units. Examples are fruit, bread, pasta, rice, potato, energy drinks and vegetables. During exercise, carbohydrates are the main fuel source of energy for the body, and are stored in muscles as glycogen.
The body can only store a certain amount of glycogen at one time…
As I mentioned earlier, tennis is a high intensity sport which means glycogen stores get drained fast. If glycogen stores get low during exercise, this can lead to fatigue, loss of concentration and slower reaction times. It is essential to continuously replenish glycogen stores during a match to keep our energy levels and performance high…
So how do we do this?
Have you ever wondered what that funny coloured drink is that the tennis players are sipping on during change of ends at Wimbledon? It’s a sports drink that is providing the player with fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates. It is recommended to consume 60g per hour of carbohydrates to keep glycogen stores topped up.
What does 60g of carbohydrate look like?
Either 2 medium bananas, 3 slices of bread, 3 crumpets, 6 rice cakes, 4tbsp raisins, 1 can baked beans, 1 litre of milk or 3tbsp honey.
Now this is a lot of food to be eating on a tennis court right? … This is why the professionals choose to consume them via a drink or in bulk. Here are some things you can try…
60g carbohydrates =
- 700ml sports drink (Lucozade/ Gatorade)
- 2 sachets of sports gels (SIS/ Power Gel)
- 1 sports bar (SIS/ My Protein)
When it comes to consuming carbohydrates during a tennis match, it’s important to test out what works for you best during training first. Can you eat two bananas without feeling discomfort in the stomach? Can you tolerate the taste of a sport drink?
We know tennis is a demanding sport and uses up a lot of fuel…… Use a strategic carbohydrate intake (60g per hour) to reduce the chance of performance dips during a match. If you would like help with understanding more about carbohydrates and how they can improve your tennis performance, please do not hesitate to contact me personally via my website or social media channels.
Yours in Health,
Former Totally Tennis performance player Steph Catlin has founded Food Is Life, a sports nutrition consultancy business based in Basingstoke. If you would like to learn more about how to achieve your personal nutrition goals and for specific personal advice please contact Steph directly via email@example.com via her website www.foodislifeuk.com or visit her social media channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Read more of Steph’s nutrition advice in previous posts – How Does The Cold Weather Affect Tennis Performance and Is Nutrition The Missing Puzzle Piece to Your Ultimate Tennis Performance