How Dehydration Can Affect Your Performance on the Tennis Court

Staying hydrated is critical to achieve optimum athletic performance. That may seem obvious, but many tennis players are dehydrated before they even step on the court, causing their physical and mental performance to suffer.

If you are lacking energy and motivation to work out, the reason could be a lack of fluids.

Different studies have concluded that a 2 percent loss of body water can result in a 20 percent decline in performance, measured by athletic indicators such as power, strength and speed. This sounds like a rather significant performance loss, but it gets worse when you consider dehydration also has a huge impact on cognitive performance.

More: Nutrition and Hydration Tips for Tennis

It is relatively easy to reach a state of mild (1 to 2 percent) or moderate (2 to 5 percent) dehydration, which can occur during a normal day's activities. We often don't even start feeling thirsty until we have lost 1 to 2 percent of our body water, meaning many people walk around mildly dehydrated all day long.

When testing the ability to pay attention, the studies concluded that a 1 to 2 percent dehydration level has little effect, but dehydration beyond 2 percent causes attentiveness to drop rapidly.

Dehydration can also impact motor skills, including those tennis players use. A 2012 study of golf players showed the length and accuracy of drives were reduced by 15 percent or more with moderate levels of dehydration.

Other studies concluded that when you lose around 2 percent of body water, you might experience headaches, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

Performing while dehydrated leads to a large increase in neural effort in the part of the brain that handles complex thinking. This means the brain has to work harder to achieve the same level of performance as when you are properly hydrated.

Try these hydration tips to maintain your performance on the court:

  • Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up every morning and before you go to bed each night
  • Drink regularly throughout the day–waiting until you feel thirsty means you're already dehydrated.
  • Drink approximately 4 cups of water per one hour of intense exercise.
  • If you drink caffeinated drinks, add 1 to 2 extra cups of water for each cup of the drink consumed.
  • The guidelines of how much water to drink are not necessarily one-size-fits-all. The best way to know if you drink enough is to observe the color of your urine. It should be almost transparent. If it is not, drink more.

    Drink water regularly to feel great, stay focused and keep yourself motivated on the court.

    More: 14 Surprising Causes of Dehydration

    About the Author

    Suzanna McGee

    Suzanna McGee is a Ms. Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion and athletic trainer with a focus on sport conditioning and injury prevention. Visit TennisFitnessLove.com to learn more.

    Suzanna McGee is a Ms. Natural Olympia bodybuilding champion and athletic trainer with a focus on sport conditioning and injury prevention. Visit TennisFitnessLove.com to learn more.

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