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Beat the Heat: Summer On-Court Routines

By: Emilie Moeller

I recently attended the Texas Spine & Joint Men’s Championships, an ATP Challenger Event hosted at one of our clubs in Tyler, Texas. June in East Texas can be particularly unpleasant, with most days of the tournament seeing over 50% humidity and heat indexes above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

As I watched some of the sport’s top athletes maintain a high level of play amidst the sweltering summer conditions, I began to take note of their strategies for surviving the heat- strategies which extended well beyond the courts. While you may not be a professional athlete on tour, these routines can apply to any racquet sports player looking for practical ways to combat the summer heat.

Hydrate Before, During and After

Hydration during summer racquet sports should be an almost constant routine. While many of us have mastered the practice on the court, it can be easy to overlook hydration off court. Off-court hydration is equally as important to ensure you arrive for your next match or lesson with a baseline level of hydration. Then, the amount you drink during exercise can work to replenish lost fluids versus replenishing and repairing a hydration deficit.

Not surprisingly, what you drink also plays a key role, especially if you find yourself in a humid climate. When we sweat more during humid sessions, we are not only losing water through sweat but also vital nutrients that keep our body performing and cramp-free during the heat. In Tyler, each court’s player cooler included an equal mix of water and sports drinks, with many players bringing their own pre-mixed concoction of hydration beverages. Consider incorporating a sports drink, electrolyte drink mix, or even a coconut water during and after your own session to replenish nutrients that have been lost through sweat.

Make the Most of Changeovers

As a former competitive tennis player, I have a distinct memory of my changeover routine (or lack thereof). It was often a brief stay at the bench with a swig of water before I hustled back to my side of the court under the false perception that I was intimidating my opponent with a quick recovery. It wasn’t until I was watching professional athletes in person and on TV that I realized how wrong my approach had been.

In Tyler, almost every player would take a seat, place ice towels around their neck, replenish fluids, and rest. They would not stand up and return to their side until the chair umpire had called time and even then, they would take their time removing the ice, standing up and walking across the court.

Especially during the summer heat, the changeover is a valuable break essential to your performance. Plan ahead with a small cooler of ice and backup drinks so you can cool down quickly with a sip from a cold drink or a quick splash of water on your head. Try to stay in the shade to give your body some reprieve from the sun and take deep breaths to settle your heart rate in between games. Your changeover routine can quite literally be a game-changer, so do not overlook it!

Clothing (and Sunscreen) is Key

It was an eye-opening experience to witness the number of outfit changes each player would go through during a match – sometimes even during a set. While everyday lessons or competition may not warrant multiple outfit changes, I do recommend planning ahead with changes of clothes in case you need them. Wet, sweaty clothes can weigh you down and keep you from cooling off.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a summer blog without a warning to apply sunscreen during your outdoor sessions! Sunburn can exacerbate the effects of heat and sweat on the skin, making it even harder to cool off. As a bonus, a cool, light spray-on sunscreen can make it easy and refreshing to apply in the middle of your on-court session.

Have a Recovery Plan

In between their Challenger matches, you could always find players stretching in the club’s gym, pedaling on stationary bikes, or meeting with the on-site trainer. Once again, not every court sports athlete needs a professional-grade routine, but taking a few steps to recover your body in between summer sessions can make a huge difference in your immediate and long term performance.

Start with simple routines like replenishing your fluids, taking an ice bath or a dip in the pool, and completing some light stretching before your muscles cool off. Try to avoid excess alcohol and caffeine which can quickly counteract your hydration efforts, and opt for nutrient rich meals with protein and carbs to replenish your energy stores.

Play During Cooler Times of Day

Not everyone is playing on a professional level, or even playing competitively. If you are enjoying tennis, pickleball, padel or some other outdoor summer activity just for fun, try avoiding peak heat times and play during the morning hours or as the sun is going down. Intense heat can be dangerous, even despite proper preparation and recovery, and it may make more sense to avoid these conditions when possible.


Regardless of how you choose to stay active this summer, we hope these tips have given you some ideas to stay cool and safe. Before conducting any strenuous activity, always consult your doctor for the best professional recommendations to stay healthy on (and off) the courts!


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