In order to be a professional athlete, you need to be able to consistently perform at peak level despite having to endure countless hours of training. Unfortunately, this applies to tennis players as well. While it may not be discussed often, there are some methods that the pros use to help them stay healthy, fit, and ready for recovery. From relaxing in hot tubs to following strict diet plans, these methods each play a vital part in their tennis game. Let’s take a look!
Some may say this is the only downside of being a professional athlete and honestly, I’d have to agree with them. While this may be hard to believe, most professional athletes don’t sit around snacking on hamburgers and milkshakes. Instead, they follow specific diets that help them to perform better. In this case, we’ll be going over some dietary tips that Olympians follow, per Fitness Magazine.
- Eat a hearty breakfast so that you are fueled and ready to play some sports. Also, it has been proven that your blood sugar is low when you wake up, so make sure to throw in some carbs so you can raise it a tad.
- Always stay hydrated. Every athlete has heard this from their coach at least once in their life. As annoying as it may be, it’s definitely true. Even while watching a tennis match, you’ll notice that the pros use up all of their break time to rest and sip on water and formula drinks. They do this to replace the sweat they lose from constantly being so physically active.
- Carbohydrates are a vital component of every athlete’s life. Although it is recommended to carbo-load the night before a big match or competition, you’ll find that pros do it a few days before. This is because your body simply cannot make use of all the carbs you supply it from carbo-loading, so it turns it into fat, according to Carlson-Phillips.
- Recovery is immeasurably important for tennis players because they play matches almost every day. After each match or intense workout, you could probably find them chugging chocolate milk or some other kind of whey protein shake. According to Dan Bernadot, this ultimately helps “reduce muscle soreness and aid in your muscle recovery.”
While hitting ball after ball after ball is the best way to improve your technical tennis game, there are a variety of other ways to improve your physical game. Exercise is essential to staying fit, both before matches and after matches. Here are some common exercises:
- Squat Jumps
- Medicine Ball Throws
- Box Drill
- Shoulder Presses
- Wrist Curls
- Wrist Rotations
All of the exercises above are easy to do and require no money or a membership to a gym. The pro players use these exercises to maintain their body, and they often “warm off” following their matches in order to help in recovery.
Physios have also made a huge difference in the modern game. While players from past generations didn’t have personal physios who traveled on the tour with them, they’ve emerged in the past years as transportation has become more efficient and prize money has increased.
These physios are trained in identifying sore points, and whether it be through massages or increased exercise, the players’ bodies are fitter than ever, as evidenced in Federer’s miraculous longevity.
Hot Tubs/Ice Baths
Hot tubs, along with their ice bath counterparts, are a great way to relax and to reduce muscle soreness. The heat from the tub promotes blood circulation, enhancing blood flow and heating up your body. This heat also helps to loosen your muscles following a tough workout or a match. The added benefits of having jets to massage sore areas of your body along with the overall relaxation that comes with staying in a hot tub all make hot tubs great methods of recovery.
One notable brand of hot tubs that comes to mind is Hydropool Hot Tubs. From their self-cleaning system to salt water instead of harmful chlorine, their hot tubs are top of the line products. They have a huge selection, and they’re one of the biggest and best brands on the market. Their selection of tubs and spas feature small, relaxing tubs to large tubs with 10-30 jets, perfect for a family get together or a small party with your friends.
Ice baths are another proven way to relax your muscles. While it may be bit shocking at first, the cold actually does the opposite of a hot tub, reducing blood flow and lowering your overall body temperature. We’ve all seen how ice packs or a frozen pack of peas can help reduce soreness or get rid of a black eye, and that same concept applies, just on a much larger scale.
It is not suggested to stay in ice baths for an extended amount of time as too much exposure to the freezing temperatures could actually cause more harm than good. If you’re just a simple athlete who spends an hour or so every day playing sports, hot tubs are probably a better fit for you. They provide help in recovery, and they’re just fun for everyday use.
As we’ve seen in the modern tennis game, players are able to continue to play at a high level well past their prime. In fact, should no U-30 player win a Grand Slam by Marin Cilic’s 30th birthday (September 28, 2018), we will not have a single Grand Slam winner that is under the age of 30, an unprecedented feat in the tennis world.
Through a variety of methods — training, proper nutrition, and improved recovery resources — tennis players have figured out how to give their bodies a longer lifespan. Whether it’s good or bad for the game is up to you to decide.