An Appropriate Supplementation Plan for Tennis Players
Regarding physical condition, tennis is a very demanding sport. If you want to be a good tennis player, you need to have developed muscles on both arms and legs. Furthermore, physical endurance is very important too, because some tennis matches can last up to 3 hours. The oxygen consumption during a tennis match can be around 50% to 60% of the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) [*1].
Therefore, which is the adequate supplementation for tennis players?
The increase of the quality of the stroke in athletes taking supplements based on carbohydrates is highly documented. A study published in 1998 on the scientific journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise already talked about it [*2].
Top tennis players performed three pre-tests on different moments, and after they finished they trained for 2 hours. During the training session they received one of these three types of supplements: placebo, carbohydrates or carbohydrates with caffeine. After this, they repeated the test. Scientists took into account several criteria inherent in the quality of the stroke: the rate of mistakes, the speed of the ball, the precision on placing the ball and the precision of the speed inflicted to the ball.
They registered that the athletes taking a supplementation based on carbohydrates had less mistakes when passing the ball and they reached the defensive balls more usually. Furthermore, they also improved their running times. The team of researchers noticed that there were many differences between the tennis players taking only carbohydrates and those who also consumed caffeine.
They concluded that a supplementation based on carbohydrates increases the quality of the stroke on the first stage of a long tennis match.
In 2006, the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed all the scientific studies which had been published about a carbohydrate supplementation on tennis players. The conclusion was that it is beneficial for matches or training sessions longer than 90 minutes [*3].
Is creatine an essential supplement for tennis players?
Creatine is a very popular supplement that can increase the performance of athletes of different sports. Nevertheless, scientific researches have shown that its effects are not visible on tennis.
In 2001, a study published on the International Journal of Sports Medicine did not identify any significant improvement on the performance of athletes following a supplementation of creatine [*4].
In 2006 a new study corroborated the conclusions of the previous report. A team of researchers analyzed 36 male tennis players. 24 Of them used a supplementation of creatine, while the other 12 took a placebo. They were all tested in two different moments: to a short term –after 6 days of starting the supplementation– and to a medium term –after 4 weeks. Researchers evaluated the speed of the stroke, the speed of the forehand and backhand movements [*5], the strength of arm and leg, and the speed of intermittent running.
Even though the performance of those individuals taking creatine was slightly higher than of those using the placebo, scientists asserted that this improvement was not relevant and they concluded that creatine should not be recommended for tennis players [*6].
REFERENCES OR NOTES:
- Ferrauti, A. et. al., Physiological responses in tennis and running with similar oxygen uptake, European Journal of Applied Physiology 85(1-2):27-33, July 2001
- Vergauven, L. et. al., Carbohydrate supplementation improves stroke performance in tennis, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Vol. 30 – Nº 8, págs. 1289-1295, August 1998
- Kovacs, M. S., Carbohydrate intake and tennis: are there benefits?, British Journal of Sports Medicine Vol. 40 – Issue 5, 40:e13, 2006
- Op’t Ejinde, B. et. al., Creatine loading does not impact on stroke performance in tennis, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 22(1) – págs. 76-80, January 2001
- Forehand movement is the stroke made with the palm of the hand looking forward, while Backhand movement is the stroke made with the palm of the hand looking backwards.
- Pluim, B. M. et. al., The effects of creatine supplementation on selected factors of tennis specific training, British Journal of Sports Medicine; 40(6) – págs. 507–512, June 2006