Hydration: What is it?

Pro Tennis Academy: Hydration is the process of replacing water in the body. Your body constantly loses moisture through respiration and perspiration, and for athletes, this process can be rapid. You can easily become dehydrated after exercising vigorously without drinking enough fluids. The good news is that hydration can be done through drinking liquids, eating ice chips, eating foods like fruit that have high water content, or in some cases, via an intravenous or IV line to resolve moderate to severe cases of dehydration. Adults are less likely to need IV re-hydration than children, but a doctor may prescribe it in some cases. Being dehydrated is when your body is lacking the water levels necessary to function optimally so it’s best to not slip into this level.

Whether you’re a serious tennis athlete or just a recreational player, it’s important to make sure you get the proper amount of fluids before, during, and after exercise on the tennis court. A properly hydrated body regulates temperature and keeps joints lubricated. This can be a vital part of injury prevention along with proper stretching and warm up. Proper hydration also helps deliver nutrients for energy and stamina. Why spend money on expensive supplements if your body lacks the proper transport mechanism to deliver key nutrients? A properly hydrated body performs at its peak level, and if you’re in the game to win professionally, this is where you want to operate so you’re delivering your best in every tennis match. Without hydration, you may experience dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, dry lips and tongue, dry eyes, rapid breathing, or cool and blotchy feet and hands. If that’s not enough, symptoms can be even more serious.

An easy way to monitor your hydration level is to check your urine output. Is it consistently colorless or light yellow? Then you are most likely staying hydrated. Bright yellow or orange colored urine is usually due to the presence of vitamin B2 which is common is nutritional supplements, so don’t be alarmed. Signs of dehydration include intense shades of yellow such as dark yellow or even amber-colored urine, so take note and act accordingly if this is the case.

Should I drink while exercising or wait until after?

There are no hard and fast rules for when and how much water to drink while exercising. Why? Because everyone’s body is different and will respond to factors that include sweat rate, temperature and humidity (here is Florida, it’s usually hot and humid), and how intense your tennis regimen is and the length of time your tennis routine lasts. If you’re on the court and playing intensely, the answer could be to break for hydration after just 15 minutes. Again, pay close attention to the signals your body is sending. There is no award for succumbing to dehydration and any lessons learned can be negated if a serious event is triggered from lack of fluids.

The American Council on Exercise offers the following Hydration Hints:

  • Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 8 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up.
  • Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising.
  • Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

    Hint: Rehydration occurs faster in the presence of sodium, regardless of whether this is provided in a sports drink.

The path to greatness and becoming a world class tennis player starts with the basics. As an athlete, you need to stay hydrated on and off the tennis court to maintain your peak physical and mental fitness. See you at the net!

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