Preparing for a big match can take weeks. Getting fitness levels up to scratch, working on your technique and analysing your opponent.
One of the final parts of the equation is nutrition, you need enough fuel and fluid in your body to withstand the demands of matchplay.
Getting information from your club is a good idea, and perhaps some tips from the club pro or coach.
Adequate pre-match preparation will prepare you for the rigours on court, thus releasing your attention to the more immediate concerns.
You must avoid food stuffs and beverages that might exacerbate stress on the body.
The old adage of, “we are what we eat” is especially accurate in participating in sport. Not only for nutritional purposes but certain foods can make us less anxious by triggering certain chemicals in the body that influence the activity of our neurotransmitters and autonomic nervous system.
Before matches try to avoid foods, including:-
- Those with high sugar content (sweets & cakes)
- Those containing refined carbohydrates (white bread)
These foods can cause an imbalance in blood-sugar levels, that can cause anxiety. Too much sugar produces a condition known as hypoglycemia, the symptoms being very similar to that of an anxiety state.
Before a game try to eat healthy foods as part of your pre-match diet, vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Your breakfast should contain complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat, oatmeal and low calorie fruits, these carbs will keep a steady energy source to help you through the match.
During the game a banana is ideal as it replenishes any used up glycogen and will keep your blood sugar levels steady.
Avoid certain drinks before a game such as; coffee or tea and any soft drinks containing caffeine. Also try to avoid protein powders and large amounts of protein before a match, to lower the risk of digestive upset. Consume the protein shakes for after play when muscle recovery is key.
Caffeine has been proven to block neurotransmitters in the brain and is the most widely used mood altering drug in the world. It does enhance alertness, concentration and memory and therefore classed as a stimulant, but excess can produce over stimulation.
Do not wait to take fluids onboard until you are thirsty, drink every 15 minutes or so to replenish the water and electrolytes lost through sweating. A good alternative to sugar filled sports drinks is coconut water which is loaded with electrolytes and potassium.
Research has shown that there is enhanced fluid absorption with a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink versus plain water. The sodium in such drinks will replace the sodium lost in sweating and the added sodium will make the drink more palatable and can play an important role in restoring body water content.
If you take these tips and advice into consideration next time you step out on court then you can see for yourself if it enhances your game.
If you are keen on improving your game then talk to the professionals at Tennis World North Sydney.