EAT TO WIN – Fuel up for your match!
Wondering how to fuel up for your match? Although there is no one correct way to fuel your body before a match, some general guidelines exist to help you to succeed on court. As tennis matches may last one, two, three or more hours, it’s essential that players not only have enough energy to kick start the match, but also sustain energy to hit the final winning ball. In this article we will focus on what you should and shouldn’t eat when preparing for a match, starting with the pre-match diet.
Tennis players should ideally eat 1-3 hours before a match to build up energy for speed and endurance. As a general rule, you should go with a high-carb, low-fat diet such as white bread, rice, pasta, non-sugary cereals, fruit, veg, etc. Also, don’t forget to add some protein, which is easy to digest and contains little fat, such as turkey, fresh cheese, skimmed yogurt, etc.
If the match is in the morning, it’s important to eat a proper dinner the night before, which is your “main meal” before your match. Breakfast should not be skipped as it will be your extra chance to load up on carbs before playing, but it should be kept light. If the match is in the afternoon or evening, you should aim to eat 2-3 hours before. Again, foods rich in foods rich in carbohydrates, without much protein and little fat are good choices. On the day of the match, remember to drink plenty of fluids.
If you are playing a tournament, league match or championship event where your match might get delayed, make sure you bring some extra snacks and keep eating a little bit every so often, so that you will keep your energy reserves high while you are waiting for your match to begin. Good examples of pre-match snacks are energy bars, bananas, oatmeal cookies and nuts/dried fruit.
The biggest challenge is to know how much food you should eat before the match. Some athletes can eat a full meal an hour before a workout, while other with more sensitive stomachs might have to wait three or fours hours. As a general rule, avoid eating any ‘new’ food to avoid any surprise reactions like pain or bloating. As always, junk food, sugary snacks/drinks, fatty foods such as sausages, fried or battered food, pastries, high amounts of caffeine and alcohol should be avoided.
Ultimately, what and when you choose to eat before a tennis match can make a big difference in your ability to perform on the court. So, take the extra time to plan your pre-match food and snacks to make sure you will rock in your next match!
What to eat during the match?
During the match, a snack is always a good idea if you need to keep your energy levels up. A banana is good, but it takes a bit longer to ‘start working,’ therefore, the best snack is probably dates, thanks to their instant release of energy. Dates contain carbohydrates and an optimal amount of fiber. Tennis players who don’t like to eat during a match, rely often on gels, shot blocks, and sports drinks.
Again, hydration during the match is essential to replace fluids and prevent dehydration. Cola drinks and other soft drinks should be avoided as they usually contain a large amount of sugar, and the caffeine may act as a diuretic. Also, it’s not recommended to eat fatty snacks such as chocolate candy-bars: they are slow to digest and will sit in your stomach causing a feeling of fullness and reducing fluid absorption by the body.
What to eat after the match?
After the match, it’s important to refuel your body. It’s usually good to eat a quick carb snack – dates, gels, or an energy bar. In addition to the carb, you also need to add some protein, which can be done by drinking a protein shake. A proper post-match meal should be eaten no later than 2 hours after playing. The post-match meal should contain a high proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and high-quality fats such as potatoes, rice, noodles, salmon, tuna, and eggs. Fruit and vegetables are also important for their antioxidant properties to prevent illness from over-exertion.
What do the stars eat on their match day?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC – gluten free diet
- Breakfast: muesli with honey and fruit or green & fresh vegetables
- Lunch: oats, dried cranberries, golden raisins, pumpkin or sunflower seeds and sliced almonds served with rice or almond milk and bananas, berries, or sliced apples
- Before match: pasta with olive oil and garlic cloves with yellow squash, zucchini, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and vegan cheese
- During match: isotonic gels
- After match: fish or sea bass with mango and papaya salsa and carrot ginger soup
- Snacks: blueberry almond butter smoothies
- Before match: seafood pasta or shrimp dumplings
- During match: bananas & isotonic energy drinks
- After: olives and chocolates, his mother’s home-cooked paella
- Before match: chicken and rice or potatoes
- During match: sports drinks, isotonic gels
- After: anything rich in protein and carbs – sometimes healthy, sometimes not!
- Before game: sushi or pasta with olive oil and parmesan
- During game: bananas and energy bars
- After match: pizza
- Breakfast: waffles, fresh orange juice, coffee, shot of apple cider vinegar
- Before game: Pasta with a light sauce
- During game: bananas and energy drinks
- After match: Italian staples like pasta and pizza
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FOODS
To sum up, being a good tennis doesn’t only involve what you do on court, but also what you put on your plate. If you want to become a better tennis player, the best thing you can do is change your eating habits. Choosing the right foods, and the right time to eat them, is key for any tennis player’s optimal performance on a match day. Once you know which foods you should go for, go to the supermarket, shop, and play better tennis!
Get everything you need for your match day from Citymarket Sello in Leppävaara!
By doing your shopping at Citymarket Sello you will be supporting our top Finnish tennis players and kids’ tennis. Becoming a supporter is easy, simply:
- Go to https://plussa.fi/k-plussa/kannata-ja-kerryta
- Log in with your Plussa card ID
- Become a supporter and enter the registration code: SP0877
- Go shopping at Citymarket Sello and use your Plussa card
Learn more about the “Kannata & Kerrytä” campaign https://hvstennis.fi/kannatakerryta/