June 20th marked the beginning of summer. Its arrival brought relentless triple-digit temps laced with ‘are you kidding me?’ heat indexes that sent many residents scurrying indoors. The Georgia Sun knows how to make an entrance.
The Deep South isn’t the only area struggling to keep cool this summer. Nationwide, over 4,000 heat records have been broken, according to Lisa Sylvester, a reporter for CNN.
What does a high of 108 degrees mean to a tennis player? For starters, it means scorching hot tennis courts. Expect playing surfaces to be at least 10 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.
What can you do? You want to avoid dehydration and find ways to lower body temperature during changeovers.
Hydrate – It sounds obvious, but many athletes overlook its importance. Staying hydrated not only helps maintain performance levels, it keeps you out of harm’s way. Seasoned junior player Becker O’Shaughnessey makes sure he’s well hydrated days before the match, not just the night or day before.
“Many (players) focus on match-day hydration only,” says O’Shaughnessey. “Staying hydrated and cooled-off can determine match outcome.” O’Shaughnessey, who trains at the Craig Jones Idle Hour Tennis Academy, drinks Pedialyte. “It helps replenish my fluids and electrolytes quickly.”
Whether you choose water, watered down sports drinks, or straight sports drinks, add ice to your drink. Three hour long matches in triple digit temperatures can warm your drink before the end of your match.
Tips for staying cool during match time
Bring a mini-cooler on court– Carry a small cooler filled with ice water. It’s a great place to store sports drinks and towels. When it comes to cooling down a room-temperature drink, nothing works faster than placing it in an ice water bath.
Use a Frogg Togg chilly pad – In fact, pack two. More on why later. The pads are made of hyper-evaporative material. They retain water, but are dry to the touch. You simply dip your Frogg Togg into water, wring it out and drape over your body.
Wear a light colored cap - Mesh material or white fabric works best.
Spray bottle filled with ice water– Spray your face and even clothes during changeovers.
Remove your shoes after the match – Stash a pair flip-flops in your tennis bag. Once the last point has been played, take off your socks and shoes then wipe down your feet with your Frogg Togg. Or rinse your feet with the remainder of your ice water. Cooling your feet quickly lowers your overall body temperature.
Eight Point Rule – Use a Frogg Togg or wet towel to swipe over your visible veins. If you have towels, wrap one around your neck while using the other one to dab over key body points. Make sure to hit the spots on your skin where your veins show –wrists, inside elbows, and behind your knees. As blood passes through your veins, the cool compress helps to lower body temperature. (Eight places in all: both sides of your neck, four places on your arms and behind your knees).
Seek shade – Shade on a tennis court? It’s a rare commodity. However, if there is any, use it whenever possible. Consider bringing an umbrella or portable awning on court. Shaded areas can be as much as 20 degrees lower.
Even conditioned athletes can fall prey to the heat. Muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are preventable. If you don't have to play in the heat of the day, hit the courts during early morning or evening hours when the sun isn't out in full force.
(Editor's note: All of these suggestions are successful for pre-, peri-, post- and menopausal symptoms. )