Tennis players have to contend with more than the blazing sun on hot summer days. The heat-trapping surface of tennis courts can also leave a tennis player sapped of energy.
Tennis courts can be, on average, 15 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees F hotter than the air temperature. That means even on hot, cloudy days tennis players need to take measures to stay cool if they want to perform well during a match.
Here are six tips to help you stay cool on the court this summer.
1. Pay attention to your feet
Hard courts trap heat and then send that right up through your feet. It's essential to wear quality tennis shoes to keep the bottoms of your feet and the rest of your body cool.
Wear flip flops or sandals to the court and change into your shoes right before your match.
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Wear socks made of wicking material to pull sweat away from your skin and prevent blisters. Stash an extra pair of socks in your bag for those extra-long days.
2. The Jimmy Connors Special
Jimmy Connors was one of the few you would see on the pro tour that would soak a bandana in cold water and tie around his neck, says Matt Gleason, president of USTA Southern Arizona Tennis.
Connors was onto something. Your body's pulse points, such as behind the ears, the temples and the wrists, are sensitive to the cold.
Sticking your wrists under cold water, for instance, can produce a cooling effect. When you're on the court, use a bandana or wrist bands soaked in cold water to help you stay cool.
There are now several companies that make so-called cooling bandanas, which are designed to stay cold longer.
3. Lightweight and breathable gear
Nike Dry Fit and Adidas ClimaCool clothing is not just good fashion, it works, Gleason says.
Any lightweight, breathable material pulls the sweat away from your skin and dries quicker, which lets air flow through to help cool the body down.
4. Dress like you're playing at Wimbledon.
White or light-colored clothing helps reflect the sun's heat, not absorb it. If you don't believe it works, go put your hand on a white car, then see how long you can keep it there on a black car, Gleason says.
On hot summer days try to incorporate as much light-colored or white clothing as you can. White hats can be especially effective.
5. Shade yourself
Wear hats or visor to keep the sun from blasting your head and face.
Hats with big rims or those that have a drape off the back of the hat will help keep the neck cooler, Gleason says.
You might already seek out the shade in between games. Look for shade spots that you can use, if only for a few seconds, in between points.
6. Hydrate and re-hydrate
Your body loses a lot of water and sodium on hot days. That means your hydration should begin before you've stepped onto the court.
If you're match is sscheduled for a hot day, start drinking water the night before.
Once you're on the court, drink a combination of water and electrolytes. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they promote dehydration.
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