With Wimbledon hotting up and a number of big shocks taken place, the question many of you may be wondering....What does it take nutritionally to compete at such a high level sporting event?
Firstly the intensity that top players are playing at costs a huge amount of energy. The average player at Wimbledon will be burning around 500+ kcals an hour. When you see how long matches can last you realise how much players will need to eat/drink in order to keep their energy levels up. E.g. Roger Federers' exciting 4 set match against Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky lasted for 3 hours. These players will be burning around 1500kcals.
If you take this 1500kcals as an average for a match, if a player was to reach the final, they will have played 7 matches in the 2 week competition, which would equate to around 10,500kcals just in matches.
Along with matches, players will also be required to include training. With this in mind players could be expending upwards of 15,000kcals through tennis alone during the 2 week competition.
The average sweat rate of a tennis player during the weather at Wimbledon is about 1.5litres an hour. Although this depends on a number of variables including temperature, genetics, intensity, humidity etc. we will use this as an average for this blog.
In a match lasting 3 hours some players could be losing around 4 litres in sweat. Because of the dangers of dehydration on performance it is essential that players have an effective rehydration strategy (e.g. someone may require to drink 200mls at each changeover) this is why you will see some players look like they are drinking robotically at changeovers.
With the matches lasting well over 1 hour it is important that players' are replacing lost energy during the match. Because it is not practical for them to start eating a meal this energy will have to come in the form of small snacks or energy drinks/gels. You will see a lot of players drinking a drink that looks like lemon juice. This will be designed specifically for their needs with their sweat rate and salt losses in mind to make sure they are replacing the right amounts of fluid and the right amount of salts to minimize the risk of reducing performance, getting injured or developing cramp due to dehydration/excessive salt losses.
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