Competition Nutrition – What, When and How Much?

One of the most popular questions asked during Wimbledon, What is in that drink the players are drinking?”

Answer: It is a precise formula made up predominately of carbohydrates and electrolytes (salt and minerals).

The next question is usually, Why are they drinking that?”

Answer: When you play tennis for longer than 60 minutes, you begin to deplete carbohydrate and electrolyte stores. If you fail to keep those stores topped up, you will get tired quicker; your concentration levels will lower, and your reaction time on court will get slower.


It’s essential to maintain the same intensity and focus on court for the duration of the match if you want to win it…

Professional players keep their carbohydrate and electrolyte stores topped up via a drink formula because it’s the easiest way to maintain intensity and performance. Sometimes, they will consume food in the form of a banana or an energy bar, but here’s why consuming liquid nutrition on court is the best option:

  1. It’s physically more practical than eating a big meal
  2. It will digest faster, therefore the nutrients can be utilised by the body quicker.    
  3. Consuming food can sit heavily in the gut and therefore slow you down on court as a consequence.

So now you know you MUST consume both carbohydrates and electrolytes during tennis matches that last longer than 60 minutes, what’s the best practical strategy to do this?

1) Here is how to top up electrolytes:


Consuming water with added salt


Coconut water is a good alternative to plain water as it naturally contains electrolytes with some additional flavouring.


The ideal way is to consume sports drinks. Sports drinks contain a very specific solution to comprise the correct water to electrolyte ratio, with the added benefit of a pleasant flavour. Three companies I recommend are: Gatorade, Powerade and Lucozade Sport.
Squash or cordials are not recommended, as the electrolyte levels are too low.

2) Here are good sources of carbohydrates to keep your stores topped up:

  • Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, Lucozade)
  • Sports gels (SIS, High 5, MyProtein)
  • Fruit
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Energy bars (Cliff bar, SIS energy bars, cereal bars)
  • Jam sandwich

My recommendation: consuming a sports drink is OPTIMAL because it contains both carbohydrates AND electrolytes in ONE drink.

I would recommend consuming primarily liquid nutrition on court for ease. With that being said, it’s personal preference therefore if you would prefer to consume food instead, that is perfectly adequate.  

Real world application: It’s best to consume your on court nutrition in small amounts regularly, rather than all in one sitting. This reduces the stress on the digestive system.

Individual recommendations will be different depending on the context and person, but previous blogs outline average quantities of carbohydrates and electrolyte (hydration) strategies needed to maintain optimal tennis performance.  

Side note: It’s best to try your on court nutrition strategy in training first because you don’t know how your body will react to particular foods during intense exercise, and you don’t want to be caught short during a competitive match.

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 via her website or visit her social media channels FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Read more nutrition advice in previous posts  Is Nutrition The Missing Puzzle Piece to Your Ultimate Tennis Performance?Do You Suffer With Performance Dips During a Tennis Match and Protein Isn’t Just For Body Builders




March and April in Pictures


Former Totally Tennis performance player and nutrition coach Steph Catlin ran two nutrition and fitness sessions at the club in March


Basingstoke’s Queen Mary’s College (QMC) Mixed team competed at the USN Bolton Arena in the Team Tennis Schools Senior Students Finals 2017


Performance players and assistant coaches Liam Hignett and Andrew Dingwall both passed their Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) level 2 assessment


Performance player Kirsty Da Silva was runner-up in the grade 5 Chesham Bois 12 and under Girls singles tournament in Amersham, Buckinghamshire 


The Queen Mary’s College (QMC) tennis team who train at Totally Tennis debuted their new tennis kit ready for the Spring/Summer season

Kirsty 1st Place Abingdon

Kirsty Da Silva won the Grade 5 12 & under Girls title at the Game, Set & Match Play Spring Super Series held at Radley College Sports Centre in Oxfordshire 

Hampshire Court players enjoyed the Drunken Drills session in early April


Performance player Isla Hignett was runner-up in the Winchester Spring Open Girls 14U singles that took place last week at Winchester Racquets and Fitness Club

Totally Tennis Alumni/coaches were part of the Wimbledon Ball Boys and Girls training at Wimbledon


Singles and doubles trophies for Tillie Reid at the Grade 4 North Devon Spring Open 14U Girls event in the Easter Holidays


Orange event competitors at the TT Tour – Sony Open event. Congratulations to Hayden Cummings (orange top) who was the winner.



TT Tour 2016: The Valencia Open

The Valencia Open was the last TT tour event of this season played on Sunday before the excitement of the Grand Finals next month where the overall 2016 winners will be crowned. Hayden Cummings won the Orange Event and the Green event was won by Daniel Shattock.
As usual the Orange event was a battle between Cummings and Daniel Ward who finished in the runner-up spot on this occassion after winning last month’s TT Tour US Open tournament. Third place went to Faith Tompkins, Gevin Chendhilkumar was fourth, Luke Shattock was fifth, Henry Terry finished in sixth place and Guhan Chendhilkumar was seventh overall.
In the Green tournament winner Shattock picked up the maximum points followed by Dylan Hall-Jones in second place, Ollie Steer was third, fourth place went to Oliver Alemany followed by Jack Moria in fifth and Carmen Visuals was sixth overall.
Coaching assistant Andrew Dingwall who run the event said, “Another great day of tennis in our last event before our Totally Tennis World Tour Finals. After numerous marathon rallies Hayden was triumphant in a 10-4 victory over Daniel in our orange final.” he added. “With some great winners and some great rallies our green event came to an end as Daniel was victorious over Dylan 4-2 in the final.

The Totally Tennis Tour is for Development Squads and Mini Performance Squads players. There are six tournaments throughout the year and then the Grand Final where the top eight players from each squad will be invited back to play for the chance to finish as the club champions. There will be an up to date leaderboard showing players rankings in each squad. Points are awarded to the winner, runner-up and third/fourth place players for each event as well as for entering. The Grand Slam events of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open offer higher points and all points will be added to each age group leaderboard.

TT Tour Dates 2016

Sunday 13th November – Grand Finals (by invitation)

Congratulations to both winners, Hayden and Daniel!

September in Pictures


Penny Bates won ‘Most Improved Player’ at her family annual tournament held this year at St George’s Lawn Tennis Club in Weybridge


Liam Hignett was crowned Warsash Tennis Club Closed 2016 club champion


Daniel Ward won the Orange event at the TT Tour US Open



Meet the coach: Jordan Frederick 

Totally Tennis supporting the annual Macmillan Cancer World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event


Hignett Crowned Warsash Club Men’s Champion

Last weekend Liam Hignett played in the men’s singles final of the Warsash Tennis Club Closed 2016 club championships. On route to the final players arranged their own matches with Hignett winning his way though to the final to play against Jake Norris.
After a bye in the first round second seed Hignett beat Adam De Leeuw 6-0, 6-4 in round two followed by sixth seed Richard Steeds in the quarters 6-1, 6-3 and a win in the semis against fifth seed Martin Wilkinson 6-1, 6-0. The final was a close match with Hignett beating Norris 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to become club champion. Hignett was delighted to win and collected a lovely glass trophy to keep presented by former club chairman/president David Sadler (pictured below with Hignett), a bottle of Prosecco that he gave to his mum as he’s underage and his name engraved on the big silver trophy that stays permanetely in the clubhouse.
The final’s event, that was organised by Pauline Udal, was followed by a BBQ for the competitors and supporters.
Well done Liam!

August in Pictures


Hignett was Men’s singles runner-up and doubles winner at the BMW Vines Guildford tournament held at Woking Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Surrey.


Hignett and partner Louis Allen were crowned Men’s Open Doubles champions at the Frost & Co Dorset Open 2016 held at the East Dorset Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club in Poole.


Hignett won the Open Men’s Singles title at the Eastleigh Open 2016 held at the Virgin Active Hampshire Health and Racquets Club in Southampton


At the Grade 1 Nike Junior National Tennis Championships 2016 unseeded Hignett and partner Louis Allen were crowned the championsimage3image1-5

12U boys doubles w and rup resized

Dean Cooper Kirby had a fantastic Hampshire & IOW Junior County Championships winning the 12U Boys Singles title and with partner Aaron Dawson he won the 12U Doubles title

14U girls doubles

Jasmine Bromilow was runner-up with partner Magda Kornijczuk (above) in the 14U Doubles and was runner-up in the 12U Girls singles event

12U Girls resized


Isla Hignett playing in the County Championships fun  touch tennis event.


Hignett was County Championships 18U singles runner-up and Men’s Open winner 




Grade 1 Doubles Victory For Hignett

Totally Tennis performance player Liam Hignett competed in his first Grade 1 event, the Nike Junior National Tennis Championships 2016 held at Nottingham Tennis Centre. Grade 1 tournaments are for the the top twenty-eight ranked players in the UK as well as two qualifiers and two wild cards to make up the thirty two player draw. Hignett is ranked  34th and was accepted due to entry numbers.


In the first round of the 16U Boys singles he was drawn against the eighth seed Edward Putney (ranked 10th in the UK) and he won the match convincingly 6-3, 6-1. In the next round Hignett beat Oliver Okonkwo in a very close three set match which lasted an incredible three and three quarter hours, 7-6(7), 2-6, 7-6(3) which saw him into the last eight of the competition. In that quarter-final match he lost 6-2, 6-3 to fourth seed Jake Hersey.
Donella Hignett said, “Both wins in the singles event were against players he had previously lost to over the years which was a great achievement.”
In the 16U Boys Doubles event unseeded Hignett and partner Louis Allen were crowned the champions. In the first round they beat Rittik Anand and Nathan Fernandes  5-7, 6-3, 11-9 followed by a walkover against top seeds Alexander Maggs and Connor Thomson in the quarter finals. They then beat third seeds  Oscar Cutting and Putney in the semis 6-4, 6-4 and defeated Tad Maclean and Okonkwo in the three set final 2-6, 7-6(4), 10-8 to win the event and collect the trophies. The boys also received medals, flags and vouchers as part of their prize.
Congratulations Liam!
Thanks Donella for the great selection of photos