While players of other sports who shave their legs might actually find a benefit to it, the question is if it helps male tennis players in any way and if so do a lot of them shave their legs. We look at this conundrum in greater detail.
According to scientific research, shaving one’s legs makes one more aerodynamic in comparison, especially while participating in sports where time is of crucial essence.
This reduction in drag shaves off crucial time from an athlete’s times which in turn could be the difference between winning and losing a race. This can be shown from tests conducted at various times in history which have concluded that shaving one’s legs can save cyclists about five seconds every 40 kilometers.
Consider the road cycling event at 2020 Olympics which was held in Tokyo, where Richard Carapaz won the gold but more vitally, the cyclists who ended between the second and ninth spot all finished within a second of each other.
An unshaved leg would have lost out to a shaved one there!
It is no different in other such racing sports like sprinting, marathons and swimming but does that mean that male tennis players benefit from shaving their legs?
Does Hair Removal Help Male Tennis Players with Speed?
Technically while there could be some speed difference between male players with shaved and unshaved legs, that difference is so miniscule that it does not quite change things around if a male tennis player did opt to shave his legs.
That’s because while tennis requires players to run around a lot, most of it is in quick spurts and with a constant need to change direction.
As mentioned earlier, most research point to a difference of about five seconds every 40 kilometer, which over a short five meter space (approximately the amount of running in one direction on a tennis court) amounts to nothing.
So, the short answer to this is no, shaving off hair will not make any difference to a male tennis player’s performance.
One might point out that female tennis players do shave their legs but that again is not to gain that teeny-weeny advantage over their opponents but more from the point of view of aesthetics.
So why do male tennis players shave their legs anyway? Here’re some of the reasons why that might be the case.
Other Reasons Why Male Tennis Players Might Shave Their Legs
Despite offering no speed benefits, the reasons for a male tennis player to shave his leg off include the following:
Helps Clean Wounds Easily
While tennis isn’t quite a contact sport – far from it actually – there is always that chance of an injury. Superficial wounds or even muscle issues require constant attention and it is far easier to treat shaved legs than hairy ones.
Shaving the legs helps smoothen the skin and allows tennis players to feel a lot more confident as a result. While some male players might disagree with this, it does give a sense of comfort and relaxation as compared to hairy legs and that in turn leads to a sense of confidence.
Easier to Massage Shaved Legs
One of the many ways to recover from a tennis match is through massage therapy and it makes sense to have shaved legs to feel the best while taking a massage.
While there’s no medical difference between getting massaged with or without hair on the legs, it’s a lot more comfortable to get your legs massaged when they are shaved, isn’t it?
A masseuse might end up tucking on the leg hair while giving one and that could make it very unpleasant for the tennis player.
Helps Reduce the Heat
One of the body functions of hair is to keep the body warm through insulation and that works well for most of us and more so in the cold months.
The core body temperature of a tennis player, however, rises by around three degrees Farenheit during a match. Which is why it would make a lot more sense to go hairless, which in turn reduces insulation and helps cool down the body slightly quicker.
Easier to Tape
You would have seen tennis players often tape up parts of their bodies, including their legs, with an elastic tape. These tapes, which also go by the name of Kinesio tapes, are said to ‘alleviate discomfort and facilitate lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin’.
And to tape a tennis player’s leg – and to then remove it – becomes so much easier on the player if done without any hair on the skin.
Ever tried pulling on your leg hair? It’s painful, isn’t it? Would be so much worse when the hair gets pulled on by this elastic tape which is why the best option is to shave the leg.
We had mentioned that one of the chief reasons why female tennis players shave their legs is for aesthetics and why only sportswomen, it’s a common feature among women around the world whether or not they are playing sport.
Male tennis players – and other sportsmen – are on camera for hours, with fans from around the world watching and following them on their screens, making it almost obligatory for them to ‘look good’.
A part of that process is clean-shaven legs although the jury might be out on that one if shaving one’s legs makes them seem better looking.
Do All Male Tennis Players Have Hairless Legs?
The simple answer to this is no. There’re swathes of male tennis players who opt not to shave their legs because according to them, the effort to regularly shave or wax their leg hair outdoes the benefit associated with it.
Top men’s players like Andy Murray, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Roger Federer haven’t known to shave to regularly shave off their leg hair and that should give enough confidence to those thinking against doing so.
Do Tennis Players Shave or Wax Their Hair?
There hasn’t been any research done around leg-shaving habits of male tennis players yet and it boils down to what the individual prefers.
Typically, waxing is a more painful process but it also is longer-lasting since the hair is removed from the roots. Waxing also has an added benefit that over time the hair could stop growing and reduce the need for even those infrequent waxing sessions.
As compared to that, shaving doesn’t cause as much pain but a player would need to do it more often and as a result take up more of the athlete’s time – something that is a bit of a premium for them.
Final Words on Male Tennis Players Shaving Their Legs
While there is no scientific evidence to prove that the on-court performance of male tennis players improves because of shaved legs, there are enough plausible explanations why shaving the leg has become a norm for a male tennis player.