Tennis matches can be punishing on the body and if players are involved in a long tournament, they have to recover quickly from a grueling match to get ready for the next round either the next day or in two days’ time.
It’s a sport where players use a lot of power behind their shots and cover great ground to recover deliveries, hence they need tremendous amounts of energy to stay on top of their game. If they start losing energy it clearly shows on their game as they tend to lose speed, hit inaccurate shots and look a bit demoralized.
Thus, they need a lot of energy to stay competitive throughout a match that can last for over an hour. Top players are regularly engaged in marathon matches that can go on from three to five hours. But they know how to take care of their post-match recovery to be match-fit the next day.
Just like it’s important for young players to know how to prepare for a tennis match, it’s equally important for them to know how to recover from a match because if they are not disciplined enough and don’t follow a routine after each match, they may end up being physically and mentally drained, which could affect their performance the next day.
So here we list out eight ways that can help tennis players recover after a match.
How to Recover from a Tennis Match?
Just like it’s important to warm up before a match to bring the body temperature to a certain level, it’s equally important to cool down after the contest to gradually bring down the body temperature and the heart rate, which rise considerably during the match. Here’s how athletes warm down:
The body uses oxygen to break down glucose to generate energy. However, during a strenuous activity like a tennis match, there may not be enough oxygen available to produce the required energy.
Thus, the body produces lactic acid in muscle cells and red blood cells. It is formed by breaking down carbohydrates to produce energy when oxygen levels are low.
Accumulation of lactic acid can lead to cramps and stiffness. But stretching can help in reducing the building up of lactic acid, which prevents muscle fatigue. Stretching also helps in loosening up the muscles and help them fall back to their usual position thus reducing pain.
Cycling or Jogging
Some players may hit the gym straight after the match for a few minutes of cycling on a stationary bike, while others may go for a light jog. This is known as active recovery and its aim is to reduce the lactic acid buildup and increase blood flow to the muscles.
Hitting More Balls
Some players prefer hitting more balls straight after the match at a much lower intensity than during the game, but it helps them loosen the muscles.
Muscles tend to get tensed after a match and therefore a massage can go a long way in helping the body’s recovery process. A masseur or a masseuse knows exactly where to apply the pressure to release the tension. A good massage just after the match prevents a player from waking up sore the next morning.
Ice Bath or Cold Water Therapy
This therapy is said to heal the muscle damage caused during a match. It also reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), that is the pain and stiffness caused hours after the match. So, following a high intensity match, some players jump right into water with temperatures close to 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
Players who don’t have access to Ice Bath, may also use ice towels, that is ice wrapped in towels, and place it around their neck.
That helps in bringing down the body temperature. It’s particularly useful during hot days, as it reduces muscle fatigue and doesn’t allow a player to cramp or suffer from heat stroke.
While some prefer the cold-water therapy there are others who prefer the contrast bath therapy, that is alternating between hot and cold water to remove pain and swelling from the muscles.
The body loses a great amount of fluid during a match, thus it’s important to restore the amount of water and electrolytes by constantly drinking adequate amounts of water.
Dehydration can be dangerous for the body, leading to extreme fatigue and in some cases one can even pass out. It’s therefore important to drink the right quantity of water along with fluids that can add glucose and minerals to the body.
Recommended energy drinks and juices can help one stay hydrated.
It’s also important to know how much water one needs to take after a match. The entire amount shouldn’t be taken in one go, instead one should keep drinking an adequate amount at regular intervals to replenish the loss.
Just like water, eating well is also a part of the recovery process.
Players need to eat a good amount of carbohydrates and proteins after a match. An intense activity like a tennis match can lead to depletion of glycogen, that is the stored form of glucose in the body.
During a strenuous activity, the body depends on glycogen to provide quick energy. Therefore, it’s extremely important to have lots of carbs after a match to replenish the loss of glycogens.
Also, a good amount of protein after the match can help in rebuilding the muscles that suffer slight tears while playing.
Players are advised to take a snack, rich in carbs and protein, preferably within 45 minutes after the end of the match. One food that top players love taking after a match is sushi.
The rice in the Japanese dish provides the carbs while the fish provides the protein. For those who can’t afford the expensive stuff would love to know that bananas and chocolate milk can also help in a big way in replenishing carbohydrates and proteins.
Relaxing the Mind
Matches can be mentally taxing and sometimes the excitement and the thoughts from the match may linger for a very long time thus preventing a player from refocusing.
One must engage in activities that relaxes their mind and allows them to switch off from what happened over the course of the match for a while, so they can switch on again to refocus on the upcoming matches.
Games, music, movies or hanging out with friends can all take the mental pressure off for a while and help one recharge the batteries.
Meditation helps a lot of people relax and recharge. Breathing exercises are said to make one mentally strong and raise the level of concentration. It also helps in increasing levels of oxygen in the body and so a lot of players tend to meditate after matches.
A good night’s sleep is any absolute necessity in the recovery process.
Players, who go through hours and hours of rigorous activity need proper sleep to recover from a match and also prepare for next day’s action. An eight hours’ sleep is ideal for the body and highly recommended for players.
Anything that comes in between a proper night’s sleep, which includes gadgets and television, must be put away as distractions can deny the body a proper rest and eventually affect the process of recovery drastically.
Final Words on Recovery after Tennis Matches
It is utmost importance that players try and make their recovery after playing a competitive tennis match a regular exercise. And the ways by which one can do that is following the regime mentioned above.