Playing tennis in the heat is difficult and can be extremely challenging. It’s important to know how your body will react as well as what you should do to remain safe when it comes to training during these hot days.
It is important to know the physiological change we undergo during activity in hot conditions and how our natural body mechanism can not help function with maximum efficiency. To play tennis with pleasure, it is also necessary to take care of your hydration because you will need more water (and electrolytes) than usual due to the heat.
With summer in full swing, the heat can be taking a toll on your body. Whether you’re a recreational player or an experienced pro, it’s important to know what your body is going through and how you can better prepare yourself for the heat.
If you are going to play tennis during these hot days, you must understand what will happen to your body and how to keep yourself safe.
We have provided some great tips for playing tennis in the hot weather so please read them before heading out onto the court. Enjoy!
What happens when you play tennis in hot weather?
Playing tennis in the heat can exaggerate how hot your body will get.
In every workout/activity about 70% of the energy used by our muscles is emitted as heat, like when playing tennis or working out intensely.
Beyond intense activity in a heated environment, over time our bodies’ temperature may reach 40-39 degrees celsius. Because it’s hard for us to regulate ourselves and dissipate excess body heat while exercising at high intensity levels – no matter what season we’re playing in.
Venturing into hotter climates has its consequences. If you don’t keep yourself hydrated and find ways to cool down during exercise routines such as taking breaks indoors between sets, bringing a towel, or drinking cold water it could end badly.
Increased heart rate
In hot weather, the heart is forced to work harder, the fluid loss due to this from the time the blood thickens due to the loss of plasma volume, as a result, the heart rate exceeds to compensate for the lost blood volume.
Loss of salts
Apart from liquids, sweat also contains salts and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. As heart rate increases, so does the loss rate of those minerals. In a continuous heated play, these minerals should be supplemented by taking electrolytes-rich drinks, like many pro players do, isotonic drinks or salt pills.
Early fatigue – the rise in body temperature activates the blood regulation mechanism of the body, sweat arises and more blood flows to cool the skin. As a result, less oxygen is flowing to activate your muscles, and you feel heavy and tired.
It is important to know that the human body operates under relatively constant conditions and therefore in cases where the body temperature rises it has a natural cooling system that maintains a safe temperature. In hot weather, the main way for the body to lose excess heat is through sweating which helps the body to cool down.
The question is what happens when we sweat beyond normal during exercise when the outside is over 30 degrees and the inside heat meets the outside?
Playing tennis uses energy that raises the body temperature. The combination of the high heat outside together with the heat generated during the activity makes it even more difficult for the body’s natural cooling system and requires it to work harder.
The increased sweating leads to a more significant loss of fluids and on the other hand a combination of very hot and very humid weather (as happens in many areas in many coastal countries) makes it even more difficult for the body to evaporate sweat and cool the body.
What can happen if you won’t regulate heat?
The sun is an intense and powerful force that needs to be respected, especially when it’s at its hottest! If you’re not regulating your temperature properly by drinking water or using sunscreen (or both!).
A pretty known fact is that when your body keeps getting warmer and hotter, there’s a point it can’t handle anymore.
Playing in the hot sun is just as bad- what happens to those who choose not to take care of themselves playing out on a sunny day? One of these may happen:
- Heat cramps- muscle tightness and pain, or a feeling of fainting from high temperatures;
- Heat syncope- experiencing lightheadedness or even passing out after standing for too long outside on a sunny day.
- Heat exhaustion also happens from time to time with symptoms such as dry skin or moistened skin due to lack of sweat production. If left untreated, this could lead on its path towards heatstroke–another potentially dangerous event for those who do not exercise caution while enjoying sporting activities outdoors under intense sunshine
- Heatstroke can lead to a life-threatening emergency condition in which your body temperature reaches greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius).
How can dehydration be avoided when playing on hot summer days?
Of course, it is important to drink enough fluids before, during, and after exercise even if you do not feel thirsty.
The color and amount of urine can help get a sense of whether we are drinking enough or not.
Alcoholic beverages, caffeine, or sugary drinks (such as juices or fizzy soft drinks) are not recommended as they may cause increased fluid loss. It is important to remember that water is the preferred drink for short activities, while for prolonged activities or long runs it is also important to return minerals to the body (with isotonic drinks).
What should you do if symptoms of dehydration are suspected?
In case of the appearance of suspicious symptoms, immediate action should be taken to lower the body’s temperature and hydration should be taken care of (providing fluids). For this purpose, stop training, enter a shady and cool place and it is advisable not to be left alone but to call for help or guidance in case the situation worsens.
Removing clothing and shoes, wetting the body with cool water, and using cold towels can help lower body heat. Drinking cool water is also important. In any situation where the symptoms persist even after 20 minutes of rest or are severe, seek medical attention.
How to prepare to play in hot conditions?
Quite a few are taking place on particularly hot days, but is it possible to prepare for them? And what are the recommendations for those involved in the field in the community in general and competitive tennis in particular?
Summer temperatures sometimes can be unbearable, especially when it comes to strenuous outdoor training. When warm our heart works harder to pump more blood to the skin and allow internal heat to dissipate.
Scientists and coaches have tried to find ways to help players cope with the heat. Some are related to the process of early cooling, which involves drinking extra cold drinks or applying ice to the skin before a workout, assuming we can cope with high temperatures by lowering body or skin temperature first, this issue is still researched but common in various sports.
How can the risk of heat injury in summer exercise be minimized?
The first and most important rule is to limit your workouts (especially outdoor play) on very hot days and try to concentrate on your training sessions in the early morning or evening hours.
Reducing the training load, the duration of the training, and the degree of their intensity is critical especially because the heat itself loads on the body systems, accelerates the heart rate, and increases sweating.
In addition, it is important to choose light clothing that will allow good evaporation of sweat and during the day in clothes in light colors. Sunscreen and sunglasses will help protect the skin and eyes. Resting in a shaded area and activity in a shaded area will also help avoid overheating.
Extreme heat policies in professional tennis tournaments
With heat becoming an increasing issue in professional tennis, it is necessary for organizers to have a plan of action.
Heat policies in professional tennis tournaments are an important component of the game nowadays. Extreme heat policies in professional tennis tournaments as well as club level tournaments, are here to ensure the players and spectators stay safe.
They can be as simple as placing parasols for spectators to avoid the heat or assisting players with dealing with the excess burden from hot weather, but they also have innovative ideas like this tournament’s Heat rule that will help them better manage such issues in the future matches!
The rules for these events vary by location but some of them include, or slowing down playtime so everyone can keep cool.
You will find that all major venues have a policy created specifically for this type of event to provide relief from extreme temperatures.
- Australian Open- The Aussie grand slam has always stood in the middle of controversy when speaking about heat regulations. Players and spectators have always complained about the tournament’s policies, and they’ve changed over the past years. In the past, play used to be suspended only when the temperature exceeded 40 degrees. In the 2019 Aus Open, the Heat Stress Scale was introduced, and consequently, players are privileged to receive a 10-minute break when necessary.
- French Open- while the Roland Garros is played during a winter-spring range in a cold country like France, the heat wasn’t much of a disgrace for most players most of the years.
- Wimbledon- the Championships have applied the heat rule to their policies in the Girls and Women’s championships, with men remaining unsettled.
- US Open- Heat rule applies in the US Open as well.
Tips for playing tennis in the heat
- Protect your skin
In order to protect the skin, apply sunscreen and wear loose and light clothing that will block the sun’s rays, including a hat. The head has a large surface area that the body is required to cool, and a hat provides shade and helps the body in the craft. Another reason to protect the skin is to avoid cancer. It’s a great long-term solution.
- Wear “breathable” clothes
The material from which the clothes you choose to wear can also help you cool your body. For example, tennis sportswear that wicks away the sweat that allows the skin to sweat and cool itself.
At the same time, clothes made of cotton that do the opposite and maintain body heat should be avoided.
Useful clothing usually does not have to be luxurious or fancy. Gym clothes have become smaller and smaller over the years, which is actually good for training at high temperatures. The more skin exposed to the atmosphere the easier it is for sweat to evaporate.
- Drink before, during, and after a training session
Dehydration can come as a surprise, so it is important to anticipate a cure for stroke and ensure adequate drinking. Make sure you drink water at least an hour before training, and of course make sure to drink during the training itself. It is also important to drink more the night before training or a match.
After training, replenish your body fluids. By drinking between half a pint-liter for every hour of heat training.
What is better to drink? If you exercise for an hour or less, cold water is the preferred choice because it is absorbed relatively quickly. If your playing time exceeds an hour you should consider choosing sports drinks to replenish sodium and electrolytes lost during your session.
However, do note that overdrinking can lead to a medical condition called hypothermia. This can be seen in sporting events where competitors drink excessive water and lose electrolytes. This can lead to weakness, confusion of excessive sweating, and vomiting.
- Opt for a more heat-friendly playing routine
When you know it is going to be hot outside, try to opt for less demanding exercises and drills in order to decrease the burden of the heat. Keep the intense playing sessions for cooler days, while trying to exercise specific aspects of your game.
- Play with the location or with the hours of the day
One of the simplest ways to maintain body temperature at a reasonable level during training on a hot summer day is to go out for a workout early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperatures are cooler.
The midday sun can add more than 20 degrees to the actual air temperature.
- Note the differences between hot and dry weather and hot and humid weather
It’s easier to deal with dry heat. Sweat is able to evaporate more easily and the body is able to maintain body temperature in a normal and healthy range. However, even high temperatures in dry climates can be dangerous. Because sweat evaporates faster in dry heat, it is often impossible to estimate the amount of water lost and this increases the risk of dehydration.
In a humid climate, it is easier to know how much we are sweating but it carries its own risks. Sweat is harder to evaporate in humid areas and this impairs the body’s ability to cool down. A body soaked in sweat should serve as a reminder that you need to be more careful.
You should also note that one should be aware of the relative heat to which the body is exposed, and not just the given temperature. Before you go out to exercise, always check the humidity in addition to the temperature. If the humidity is high, your body temperature is much higher.
- Consider the limitations of the body
Even when we train in perfect conditions, there is a lot of competition between body parts for oxygen-rich blood. The body sends blood to the heart to meet the training requirements, and to the skin to cool itself, when in addition it pumps blood to the areas it trains. The body has about five liters of blood so it can put pressure on the cardiovascular system even on a good day.
Adding high heat to the equation puts extra stress on the body so in cases where it is required one should listen to the body and slow down.
This is fine when it comes to training in the heat, and is especially important if the trainee suffers from heart disease, diabetes, or any chronic illness, otherwise, the great stress on the heart can lead to life-threatening events – like a heart attack, for example.
- The most important tip: listen to your body
Training in the early summer is often more difficult than training about three months later because the body has not yet adapted to the heat. Listen to what your body is telling you.
Some players like to challenge themselves and are willing to put themselves in places of discomfort, but severe warning signs cannot be ignored.
- Learn the warning signs
Warning signs of fatigue and fever include fatigue, extreme thirst, nausea, headaches, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, muscle cramps, and a general feeling of dizziness.
When it comes to heat stroke (a much more severe emergency) the symptoms include all of the above but also confusion, vomiting, seizures, increased heart rate, and respiration rate, and finally loss of consciousness.
- Equip yourself appropriately
One of the most important things you can do in order to get ready to play tennis in the heat is to get equipped beforehand accordingly. Equip yourself with:
- Cool water
- Cool clothes
- A court with a shaded bench to sit on
What to eat before playing tennis in the heat?
It’s true, the food we consume provides us with fuel and energy for play. A light meal should be chosen at least an hour before a session. When we consume food, the body pumps blood to the gut and activates energy-using processes to start the digestive process. This produces quite a bit of body heat – not something we would want when it’s already so hot outside.
What is the heat rule in tennis?
Due to tennis being a very active sport that is often played outdoors, players often complain about the weather conditions, the strong sun, and the heat that disturbs play. This is what led to the heat rule being born in the tennis pro tour.
The idea behind the heat rule came from an observation made by many hopeful future champions: playing in extreme weather conditions often leads to distracting dizziness or dehydration which makes winning more challenging than necessary.
So this led them to propose that there should be some sort of regulation put into place regarding these situations – namely changing how long matches must last based on temperature levels.
In tennis, there are a heat rule that allows players to take 10-minute breaks between sets when the “Heat Stress Index” reaches 30 (86 degrees Fahrenheit) degrees Celsius or higher during playtime.
One player in any given match can ask for these timeouts at their discretion. In the case of play under a rooftop, the rule is not applied.
In the 2018 US Open, Novak Djokovic has used this rule and went for a 10-minute break for an ice bath alongside his opponent Marton Fucsovics.
Summertime is here and the heat can really take a toll on your body. If you play tennis in hot weather, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from extreme temperatures that may lead to health problems if not regulated properly. Keep these tips in mind for playing tennis in the summer!
Even if it’s a scorcher today, don’t let the heat stop you from getting out and playing!
There are plenty of ways to beat the heat while enjoying your favorite sport. First off, make sure that you have appropriate clothing for the weather (think lightweight breathable fabrics).
Depending on how much time you plan on spending outside in high temperatures, bring along some water or sports drink to stay hydrated throughout your game. If possible, try to schedule matches either early in the morning or late at night when there is less sun exposure.