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In this study, the nutritional and recovery habits of tennis players pre-, during, and post-match-play were investigated. Seventy tennis players completed a bespoke nutrition and recovery habits questionnaire, with questions related to the following areas: match preparation, intra-match nutritional habits, situation dependent variables, and post-match nutrition and recovery. On match day-1, the consumption of balanced meals consisting of carbohydrate (CHO), fat and protein, with some micronutrient considerations were reported by 51% of players. On match-days, CHOs were prioritised prior to match-play with CHO dominant meals consumed by the majority of players. During matches, all players adopted a nutritional strategy, with water (94%), banana(s) (86%) and sports drinks (50%) commonly used. Carbohydrate rich nutritional aids, including sports drinks (80%) and energy gels (26%) were utilised more readily during long matches (>2 h). The day after match-play, 39% of players reported the consumption of "nothing specific". Multiple post-match recovery strategies were adopted by 80% of players, with foam rolling (77%), ice baths (40%), protein shake intake (37%) and hot baths (26%) most used. Findings indicate highly variable eating and recovery habits in tennis players pre-, during and post-match-play, with scope for improved practices.
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nutrients
Article
Investigating the Nutritional and Recovery Habits of
Tennis Players
James A. Fleming 1, 2, *ID , Robert J. Naughton 1ID and Liam D. Harper 1ID
1School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield HD1 3DH,
UK; r.naughton@hud.ac.uk (R.J.N.); l.harper@hud.ac.uk (L.D.H.)
2School of Sport Health and Applied Sciences, St Mary’s University, Twickenham TW1 4SX, UK
*Correspondence: James.Fleming@hud.ac.uk; Tel.: +020-8240-4359
Received: 1 March 2018; Accepted: 30 March 2018; Published: 3 April 2018


Abstract:
In this study, the nutritional and recovery habits of tennis players pre-, during,
and post-match-play were investigated. Seventy tennis players completed a bespoke nutrition
and recovery habits questionnaire, with questions related to the following areas: match preparation,
intra-match nutritional habits, situation dependent variables, and post-match nutrition and recovery.
On match day-1, the consumption of balanced meals consisting of carbohydrate (CHO), fat and
protein, with some micronutrient considerations were reported by 51% of players. On match-days,
CHOs were prioritised prior to match-play with CHO dominant meals consumed by the majority of
players. During matches, all players adopted a nutritional strategy, with water (94%), banana(s) (86%)
and sports drinks (50%) commonly used. Carbohydrate rich nutritional aids, including sports
drinks (80%) and energy gels (26%) were utilised more readily during long matches (>2 h). The day
after match-play, 39% of players reported the consumption of “nothing specific”. Multiple post-match
recovery strategies were adopted by 80% of players, with foam rolling (77%), ice baths (40%),
protein shake intake (37%) and hot baths (26%) most used. Findings indicate highly variable
eating and recovery habits in tennis players pre-, during and post-match-play, with scope for
improved practices.
Keywords: carbohydrate; nutrition; performance; recovery; tennis
1. Introduction
With an estimated 60 million players globally, tennis is considered one of the most popular sports
in the world [
1
]. Tennis orientates around tournament play, which may result in a congested fixture
calendar, frequent travel, and an unpredictable time spent in competitive match-play [
2
]. These factors
subsequently pose several challenges that could influence a player’s preparation, match performance,
and recovery.
Broadly considered an intermittent sport, tennis match play is characterized by rapid and
explosive movements, including acceleration, deceleration, stretches, jumps and stroke-making from
various body positions [
3
]. With match length varying from less than one hour to more than five hours,
great mechanical and physiological stress is placed upon the body [
4
,
5
]. Performance variables, such as
stroke velocity, running speed and maximum muscular force, have been reported to significantly
decrease during a tennis match [
6
], with stroke accuracy decrements of 81% observed alongside
increased play duration [
7
]. Gomes et al. [
8
] investigated the impact of one 3-h tennis match on recovery
markers and found significant decrements in neuromuscular performance immediately post-match,
and indirect markers of muscle damage (creatine kinase and serum myoglobin concentration) 24–48 h
post-match. Furthermore, research has identified players’ physical performance and recovery
to be compromised during multiple tennis matches as encountered in tennis tournaments [
3
].
Nutrients 2018,10, 443; doi:10.3390/nu10040443 www.mdpi.com/journal/nutrients
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 2 of 12
Although rapid recovery is of critical importance to tennis performance [
9
], information relating
to effective recovery strategy implementation for tennis is scarce [
7
]. Furthermore, what recovery
strategies tennis players use following matches is not well known. Therefore, there is scope to assess
the use of recovery strategies in tennis, to inform future studies that can investigate strategies’ efficacy
and effectiveness.
An athlete’s nutritional intake has a direct influence on augmenting training adaptations [
10
],
enhancing performance [
11
] and recovery [
2
], reducing risk of injury [
12
] and preventing illness [
13
].
Nutrition is considered a fundamental factor in the overall development of an athlete [
1
].
Understanding the food-related habits of sports people is important, as they influence energy
consumption, nutrient intake and hydration status [
14
]. Several studies have investigated eating
habits and nutritional knowledge in other sporting domains [
15
,
16
] yet very little has been carried out
in tennis [
2
]. To date, only one study has investigated the nutritional profile of adolescent male tennis
players [
17
]. Juzwiak et al. [
17
] reported an energy deficit of 32% and nutritional deficiencies in players,
with carbohydrate (CHO) and micronutrient intakes concomitantly below recommended values [18],
resulting in concerns regarding short and long-term impacts on growth, health and performance in this
population. Although useful insight can be taken from this study, it failed to distinguish any tennis
specific performance needs, a key consideration in the development of the athlete. Gaining an insight
into the nutritional habits of athletes is important to enable practitioners to better direct, plan and
implement appropriate nutrition education to enhance knowledge and potentially influence the dietary
behaviours of athletes [15].
Therefore, the aims of the current study were twofold: (1) identify current player habits in relation
to dietary intake pre-, during and post-match-play and (2) investigate recovery strategy use.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Participants and Study Design
Competitive tennis players were recruited from Europe and North America. Recruitment consisted
of contacting players and coaches electronically, via telecommunications or in person between May and
July 2017. Participants were recruited through professional and personal tennis links of the lead
investigator. Furthermore, players and coaches were asked to inform other squad members and
appropriate level players, and to pass on the lead investigator’s contact details. After initial contact,
individuals were prompted after four weeks had elapsed in case they had not already participated in
the study. From this recruitment strategy, 70 tennis players aged 19
±
3 years participated. To be eligible
for the study, participants had to be competing at county/provincial level or higher. Participants were
asked to state their representative level, current club and tennis rating/ranking via their Lawn Tennis
Association (LTA) rating, Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), and or current National/International
Ranking. All participants gave informed consent, with parental consent gained for those under
18 years of age. Ethical permission was obtained from the University of Huddersfield Human and
Health Sciences Ethics Committee (reference: SREP/2017/032, approval date: 8 May 2017).
Nutritional and recovery habits were assessed via a questionnaire (Supplementary Materials),
as previously used in other sporting contexts [
16
,
19
]. The questionnaire was designed by two
registered Sport and Exercise Nutritionists (SENr) and created using an online resource (Google Forms)
with an approximate completion time of 10 min. Online data collection methods are deemed as
viable methods, facilitating increased access to participants, and enhancing participant experience
compared to paper-based methods [
20
]. Moreover, two independent researchers not involved in the
design or execution of the study checked the face validity of the questionnaire prior to circulation.
All responses were anonymous, with participants required to disclose their gender, age, competitive
level, and tennis club location. The questionnaire contained a total of 28 items relating to four
key topics, namely match preparation, intra-match nutrition, post-match nutrition and recovery,
and situation-dependent variables. The questionnaire contained various questions in a scaled, rank
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 3 of 12
or open-ended format. The unstructured or open-ended component allowed participants to provide
further detail with regard to the nutritional and recovery strategies they use. The use of questionnaires
that include open-ended questions has been recently recommended by Harper and McCunn [
21
] as
the information gained can provide players, coaches, and nutritionists with specific details about the
nutritional support players need. All questions were mandatory and had to be completed before the
questionnaire could be submitted. Where ‘other’ was an option, participants were asked to elaborate.
Participants completed the questionnaire online via a personal computer and/or mobile device with
internet access. The questionnaire was accessible through individual case-protected web URL links,
ensuring complete confidentiality.
2.2. Questionnaire Topics
2.2.1. Match Preparation
Participants were asked to specify their pre-match habitual nutritional intake the day before,
and day of competitive match-play. The impact of different start times (i.e., morning, midday,
afternoon and evening) were assessed, with participants encouraged to elaborate on specifics relating
to nutritional intake.
2.2.2. Intra-Match Nutritional Habits
Participants specified what they normally eat and drink during a tennis match. Options included
banana(s); energy gels; sweets; chocolate; Jaffa cakes (chocolate orange flavoured biscuit); water;
sports drinks; juice/squash (fruit drink concentrate) and other.
Participants were asked how they manage fluid consumption during a match. The following
options were given: number of games completed; at the change of ends; at the end of a set; at the end of a
match; time passed; ad-libitum consumption according to thirst, and other. Participants were also asked
if they specifically targeted a certain volume of fluid during a match (500 mL; 500 mL1L; >2 L; other).
2.2.3. Situation Dependent Variables
Considerations made for match duration (>2 h) were examined with participants asked to
provide actions taken (nutritional or otherwise) from the following options: gels; sports drinks;
sweets; cold/wet towel and other. The potential influence of different playing surfaces (clay,
tarmac/acrylic/hard, and grass) on nutritional intake were examined, with participants asked to
specify any modifications to practice and to provide reasoning for their answers.
2.2.4. Post-Match Nutrition and Recovery
Participants were asked to specify their habitual nutritional intake post competitive match-play.
The impact of timing was assessed (i.e., immediately post, 3 h post, before bed, and the day
after the match) with participants encouraged to elaborate on specifics relating to post match-play
feeding/nutritional intake.
Recovery strategies habitually implemented were examined and participants were provided
with the following options: ice bath; hot bath; compression garments; foam rolling; protein shakes;
cherry juice; creatine and other. Participants were also asked to state the reason why they implement
the recovery strategy/strategies chosen. Options included scientific literature; coach/peer influence;
saves time; saves money; easily available; and personal preference.
2.3. Data Analysis
The study design is of a cross-sectional and descriptive nature and as such the data is presented in a
descriptive manner. For questions with categorical responses, frequency and trends were determined.
Written responses for open-ended questions were read several times to develop a full understanding
of the content [
22
]. An inductive content analysis led by the lead author (J.A.F.) was then carried
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 4 of 12
out following the organisation of the raw data. Themes were then established, and inductive analysis
continued until data saturation had occurred. A sub-analysis was carried out to establish whether playing
standard impacted nutritional habits and recovery practices. Twenty participants classified as ‘elite’
level players categorised by their Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking, International Tennis
Federation (ITF) ranking, National ranking or UTR (>13)/LTA rating (<2.2) [
23
25
] were analysed against
the remaining lower level players. Additional analyses of age were carried out: ‘junior’ (<18 years old,
n= 15) and ‘adult’ players (18–35 years old, n= 55), and gender (male n= 48, female, n= 22).
3. Results
3.1. Match Preparation
When asked what players eat the day before competitive match-play, 51% (n= 36) opt for balanced
meals (consisting of CHOs, fats and protein and some micronutrient considerations). Twenty-seven
percent (n= 19) choose CHO dominant meals and 13% (n= 9) select CHOs and protein sources only to
form their match day (MD)-1 nutrition regimes. Results regarding nutritional habits on MD indicate
CHO dominant meals as the favoured food choice. Fifty percent (n= 35) opt for CHO dominant meals
prior to a morning match, 43% (n= 30) prior to a mid-day match, 63% (n= 44) before an afternoon
match and 56% (n= 39) prior to an evening match.
From the 51% of players who stated they consume balanced meals on MD-1, just 11% (n= 8) opt
for them on the day of a morning match. Additionally, only 20% (n= 14) reported eating balanced
meals prior to a mid-day match, 16% (n= 11) prior to an afternoon match and 13% (n= 9) before an
evening match. The consumption of similar foods was reported alongside morning match preparation,
with 41% (n= 29) eating oatmeal/cereals, and 31% (n= 22) eating eggs. Prior to an afternoon match,
CHO rich foods, including pasta (46%, n= 32) and sandwiches (36%, n= 25), were regular food choices.
Similar habits were noted prior to an evening match, with 51% (n= 36) and 23% (n= 16) consuming
pasta and sandwiches respectively. The following two themes emerged: ‘pre-match meal focus’ (e.g.,
“Usually only concentrate on dinner [before an evening match]. Dinner consists of carbs, veg and
chicken. Sometimes rice and sometimes pasta”), and digestibility (e.g., “
. . .
Preferably whole grain
pasta or brown rice as this is slower releasing. Nothing that takes too long to digest”).
3.2. Intra-Match Nutritional Habits
Water (94%, n= 66) and banana consumption (86%, n= 60) were the most cited nutritional
considerations during match-play (Figure 1). Ninety-four percent (n= 66) of players also reported
the consumption of multiple food/fluid items during match-play, with the majority (70%, n= 49)
consuming three.
Figure 1.
Match-Play nutrition consumption, expressed as percentages. Other responses included the
consumption of figs, dates, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), a cube of jelly, and homemade fruit
cupcakes; all cited once by different players.
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 5 of 12
When asked how they gauge fluid demands during match-play 69% (n= 48) of players reported
doing so at the change of ends, with 29% (n= 20) reporting ab-libitum consumption throughout the
match. Themes emerged regarding game/match intensity (e.g., “certain games may be longer and
tougher so you may need to consume more fluids at the change of ends to account for this”) and
weather/heat considerations (e.g., “if I’m playing in the heat I will try to drink more at the change
of ends to keep hydrated and replace fluids that have been lost”). In terms of targeting a specific
volume of fluid during match-play, only 23% (n= 16) of players reported doing so; with eight targeting
500 mL1L, one 1–2 L and seven >2 L.
3.3. Situation Dependent Variables
When asked what considerations are made during a long match (>2 h) players reported the
additional consumption of sports drinks (80%, n= 56), energy gels (26%, n= 18) and sweets (7%, n= 5).
Thirty-nine percent (n= 27) reported using cold/wet towels during breaks in play (Figure 2). Fifty nine
percent (n= 41) of players opt for multiple performance aids.
Figure 2. Considerations made by players during a long match (>2 h), expressed as a percentage.
Fourteen percent (n= 10) of players reported changing their eating habits when playing on clay
courts (e.g., “eating more”). No changes were reported when asked if they changed their eating habits
on hard/acrylic/tarmac or grass courts.
3.4. Post-Match Nutrition and Recovery
Results indicated varied eating habits immediately post-match with 34% (n= 24) of players
opting for CHO dominant meals, 26% (n= 18) have protein shakes,
19% (n= 13)
have balanced
meals,
9% (n= 6)
have sports drinks, and 9% consume nothing at all (n= 6). Meal consumption
within 3-h’ post-match shifted, with 61% of players (n= 43) reporting the consumption of a balanced
meal. Before bed, post-match nutrition habits highlighted some consideration of smaller portions
(n= 4)
, with the largest proportion of players (44%, n= 31) reporting consumption of a balanced meal.
When asked what they typically eat or drank the day after matches for recovery, 39% (n= 27) reported
the consumption of nothing specific. Two themes emerged regarding post-match nutrition habits:
availability (e.g., “if travelling then it would be whatever is available fast food wise”), and practicality
(e.g., “availability at the venue”, “wherever the team dines”).
Foam rolling was the most commonly cited method, followed by ice baths, protein shakes and hot
baths (Figure 3). Eighty percent of players (n= 56) recorded utilising multiple recovery strategies with
the four aforementioned recovery strategies cited most. Additionally, two players cited using ‘other
recovery strategies which included beetroot juice and homemade salt mineral solution. Two players
noted having no recovery strategy.
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 6 of 12
Figure 3. Post-match recovery strategy use, expressed as a percentage.
When asked why they used recovery strategies, a range of reasons were given. ‘Coach/Peer
influence’ was the main reason provided for adopting foam rolling (56%) and ice bath (43%) use.
Scientific literature was the second most cited reason given, accounting for 17% for foam rolling,
36% for ice baths and 31% for protein shake use (Table 1).
Table 1. Reasons for recovery strategy use, expressed as individual responses.
Coach/Peer
Influence
Easily
Available
No
Reason
Personal
Preference
Saves
Time
Scientific
Literature
Creatine 2 0 0 0 0 3
Cherry Juice 0 0 0 0 0 1
Compression Garments 0 0 0 1 1 2
Foam Rolling 30 7 2 5 1 9
Hot Bath 2 4 0 9 0 3
Ice Bath 12 0 2 4 0 10
Protein Shake 5 3 1 9 0 8
3.5. Sub-Analysis by Playing Standard–‘Elite’ vs. Lower Level Players
No clear differences were observed between the two cohorts with the exception of nutrition habits
surrounding match preparation. Sixty percent of ‘elite players’ opt for CHO dominant meals as part
of their morning match preparation compared to 49% of the lower level players. Nutritional habits
prior to afternoon and evening matches indicated that 80% and 75% of the elite cohort focus on CHO
dominant meals compared to 64% and 55% of the lower level players, respectively.
3.6. Sub-Analysis by Age–Juniors vs. Adult Players
Differences were observed between junior and adult players regarding eating habits and match
preparation. Eighty percent of junior players (>18 years old) chose CHO dominant meals alongside
their pre-match meal consumption, compared to 44% of adult players (18–35 years old), with no
notable differences observed in any other areas.
3.7. Sub-Analysis by Gender
No notable differences were observed between gender, nutritional and recovery habits.
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 7 of 12
4. Discussion
Aligning with the aims of the study, a notable shift towards increased CHO intake on MD
was observed. Sixty-three percent and 56% of players opt for CHO dominant meals alongside their
pre-match routine when partaking in an afternoon and or evening match, respectively (up from
27% on MD-1), demonstrating some recognition of the importance of CHOs prior to matches. There is
significant evidence supporting ergogenic effects of CHO consumption prior to exercise on physical
performance [
26
,
27
]. The performance of sustained or intermittent high-intensity exercise is enhanced
by nutrition strategies that maintain high CHO availability [
11
]. Failure to meet these demands has
been associated with fatigue in the form of reduced work rates, impaired skill and concentration,
and increased perception of effort [3,27].
A sub-analysis highlighted a notable increase in CHO dominant meal intake prior to performance
amongst elite players compared to lower level players, suggesting that elite level players may be more
aware of the importance of CHO. Similarly, the second sub-analysis established that junior players opt
for CHO dominant meals prior to performance more readily than adult players; however, no clear
reasoning can be given alongside these findings. It is difficult to draw conclusions about playing
standard and/or age and nutrition habit variance, due to the small and unbalanced sample sizes
associated with this sub-analyses and lack of research in these fields.
In terms of meal specificity, foods regularly cited included pasta, oatmeal, and sandwiches
which are all associated with high CHO content and energy provision [
28
]. A small number of
players reported the importance of meal timing and digestibility alongside meal choice, referring to
its impact on subsequent subjective gastrointestinal comfort and performance. Research supports
the consumption of a pre-exercise meal, 3–4 h prior to sporting performance, to enable enhanced
intestinal absorption and gastrointestinal tolerance [
10
,
11
]. With foods high in fat, protein and fibre
associated with gastrointestinal issues, inclusive of bloating, stomach pain and indigestion [
26
], it is
important that players adopt a pre-exercise nutritional regime promoting energy availability and gut
tolerance [11].
With tennis performance demanding high energy availability, predominantly yielded from CHO
oxidation, maintenance of blood glucose is important to spare muscle glycogen and attenuate the
development of fatigue [
29
]. Results indicated that all players adopted a nutritional strategy during
matches. Players cited water (94%), banana(s) (86%), and sports drink(s) (50%) consumption as
the most commonly used nutritional aids (Figure 1). The consumption of CHO–electrolyte solid
and liquid sources during exercise has been shown to elongate time to fatigue in several sporting
domains [
30
,
31
]. However, tennis specific research relating to 6% CHO beverage ingestion and
simulated tennis performance fails to support these findings, with no performance improvements
established [32,33].
When asked whether players targeted a specific volume of fluid during a match, the majority (77%)
of players stated that they did not. Of the 23% that did stipulate targeting a certain volume of fluid,
50% aimed for 500 mL
1
L, 6% between 1–2 L and 44% >2 L. Research to date investigating sweat rates
and sodium losses following competitive tennis have reported sweat rates between
1.1 ±0.4 L h1
and 2.0
±
0.5 L h
1
and sodium losses of 1.1
±
0.4 g [
34
,
35
]. As tennis matches involve multiple breaks
in play, the nature of the sport enables opportunities for players to take on fluids and electrolytes [
2
].
The present study indicated that only 50% of players typically consume sports drinks (containing
CHOs and electrolytes) during matches. Consuming water alone during exercise can increase urine
output alongside the rapid reduction in plasma sodium concentration, thus negatively impacting the
body’s fluid balance [
36
,
37
]. With sodium balance linked with muscle functioning and, in extreme
cases, hyponatremia [
38
] it is important that players adequately plan to manage fluid intake [
39
].
Results suggest that, currently, players are not doing enough to negate the negative effects associated
with sodium and water misbalances.
Research has found an increased match length to significantly impact on the physiological
demands of tennis performance, reducing indices of performance, including ground-stroke velocity
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 8 of 12
and accuracy, and slowing racket-arm acceleration while serving [
32
]. The majority of players indicated
utilising CHO rich nutritional aids (e.g., sports drinks, energy gels, sweets) to support performance
during matches more than 2 h in duration. The most commonly cited non-nutrition-based performance
aid was cold/wet towel use (39%). Although pre-cooling may provide some assistance for exercise
performance in the heat [
40
], there is a lack of field-based evidence regarding the effect of this method
on tennis performance [32,41,42].
When asked whether players adapt their eating habits when playing matches on different surfaces,
inclusive of clay, hard, acrylic, tarmac and grass courts, only 14% of players reported doing so when
playing on clay, stating that they eat more. No changes were stated when playing on any other court
surface. Clay court matches are associated with longer rallies and greater playing times than all other
courts. Consequently, matches on clay typically demand greater energy expenditure in comparison
to other surfaces [
43
45
]. Altering nutrition habits to compensate for the increased energy demands
would seem an appropriate recommendation for players. However, evidence from the current study
would suggest the majority of players do not accommodate for this.
In the period after glycogen-lowering exercise, glycogen synthesis is a key priority for the
previously contracted muscles [
26
]. When players were asked to consider their post-match nutrition,
no clear trends were evident. Just 34% of players cited the consumption of CHO dominant meals
immediately post-match. It has long been established that delayed CHO feeding can have a detrimental
effect on muscle glycogen concentrations [
46
,
47
]. Tournament tennis often consists of multiple matches
a day and consecutive days of matches [
48
]. Failure to maximise muscle glycogen stores prior to
match-play may have a negative impact on performance, yet more research is required to substantiate
this hypothesis.
When assessing nutrition habits the day after match-play, it was surprising to note that 39% of
players cited the consumption of “nothing specific”. These findings suggest that a proportion of players
do not tailor their diet for rest and recovery days. This is a concern, with strong evidence supporting
the implementation of post-exercise nutritional strategies as a key means of improving the recovery of
intramuscular glycogen [
26
], stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS) [
11
], attenuating reductions in
muscle function [
49
], as well as enhancing overall adaptation to training and exercise [
10
]. With indices
of technical and physical performance shown to reduce during tennis tournaments associated with
fatigue [
3
,
7
], implementing effective strategies is important to improve players nutrition status and
enhance future performances, as seen in other sports [50].
When asked whether recovery strategies were used to aid recuperation post-match play,
the majority of players stated employing several strategies. Eighty percent reported using foam
rollers, which has been previously shown to attenuate muscle soreness following a bout of physical
activity [
51
,
52
]. However, there is currently little scientific evidence showing improved overall recovery
benefits from its use [
53
,
54
]. Other cited methods included ice baths, protein shake intake, and hot
baths. With bouts of high intensity exercise associated with appetite loss, liquid sources such as
protein shakes can provide an alternative for players who cannot tolerate solid foods [
39
]. Additionally,
as match start time and duration can be highly variable in tennis, planning high quality, nutrient-rich
recovery meals can be difficult [
2
]. The consumption of 20–25 g of protein after exercise has been shown
to stimulate MPS and lower the rate of muscle protein breakdown [
55
]. Thus, consuming protein
shakes can be deemed as a viable nutrition strategy to enhance overall protein intake, to attenuate
fatigue and facilitate recovery [
9
]. However, promoting a food first approach to meet this protein need
is advocated [56], with high quality protein sources such as milk widely endorsed [5759].
Ice baths/cold water immersion (classified by immersion in water <15
C) have been
shown to have a significant effect on reducing some biological markers of muscle damage and
inflammation
[60,61]
. However, despite the large volume of research performed in this area,
the effectiveness of its use is not clearly established [
61
]. Hot water immersion, classified by water
temperatures >36
C (i.e., hot baths) are a popular recovery strategy [
62
]. Yet the physiological effects
of immersion in hot water remain to be elucidated [62].
Nutrients 2018,10, 443 9 of 12
When participants were asked why they employed recovery strategies, the primary influence was
that of the coach/peers, followed by scientific literature (Table 1). At present, determining the best
recovery strategy for tennis players is extremely challenging. With varied causes of fatigue (playing
style, gender, training status, playing surface, ball type and environment) associated with tennis
performance [
5
] and lack of tennis specific guidelines relating to recovery, there is a need for further
research in this area.
It is prudent to note the inherent issues associated with questionnaire use and reporting dietary
habits, with biases in relation to accuracy and precision often cited [
63
,
64
]. The response bias associated
with self-reporting may have had an impact on the quality of data gained in the current study.
Furthermore, the relatively small sample size makes generalising the findings to all tennis players
difficult, with further research encouraged. That said, insights gained from the current study are
important for players, coaches and practitioners alike, as well as giving governing bodies, such as the
Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), a platform to support players development to maximise performance
and recovery through education and further research in this field. Future research investigating the
dietary habits of tennis players, including energy intakes and energy expenditure around training and
competition, is recommended.
5. Conclusions
In summary, this study presents a novel insight into tennis players’ nutritional habits pre-, during
and post-match-play as well as the recovery strategies used by players. Players appear to adopt
varied eating habits on the days preceding and succeeding matches. Notably, the day of and during
match-play appear to be when players take a more targeted approach towards their consumption,
with some emphasis being shown towards energy provision (CHO and energy rich sources). However,
it is evident that players’ performance nutrition requires improvement and that protocols adopted
in this population remain highly varied. Further studies are needed to corroborate these findings,
and future work should aim to identify the dietary habits of elite level players with the unique
challenges associated with tennis competition and match-play.
Supplementary Materials:
The following are available online at http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/4/443/
s1.
Acknowledgments: The authors thank the participants for their invaluable contribution to this study.
Author Contributions:
J.A.F., R.J.N. and L.D.H. conceived and designed the experiment; J.A.F. performed the
data collection; J.A.F. analyzed the data; J.A.F., R.J.N. and L.D.H. contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools;
J.A.F., R.J.N. and L.D.H. wrote the paper and approved the final manuscript.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Supplementary resource (1)

... Nutrition and hydration habits, as well as the decision making behind those habits were assessed via an online questionnaire (supplementary digital Material 1: supplementary text File 1), as previously used in tennis 15 and in other sporting contexts. 16,17 the questionnaire was taken and modified from the questionnaire used by Fleming, et al. 15 with permission. ...
... Nutrition and hydration habits, as well as the decision making behind those habits were assessed via an online questionnaire (supplementary digital Material 1: supplementary text File 1), as previously used in tennis 15 and in other sporting contexts. 16,17 the questionnaire was taken and modified from the questionnaire used by Fleming, et al. 15 with permission. all responses were anonymous and completed by the subjects online. ...
... Frequency and trends were determined for questions with categorical responses. investigators followed a similar approach used by Fleming, et al. 15 to analyze written responses from open-ended questions, including an inductive content analysis conducted by the lead author (s.t.) following the organization of the raw data, the establishment of themes, and further inductive analysis until data satura-thus special attention to dietary choices in adolescent athletes is warranted. 7 However, research indicates that cravings, time, convenience, peer/ parental influence, food preparation skills, and cost are the primary drivers of food and drink consumption in adolescents. ...
Article
Background: Adolescence is accompanied by unique nutritional needs that must be addressed to support healthy growth and development. Energy intake and nutrient needs are exaggerated by athletic participation, and thus special attention to dietary choices in adolescent athletes is warranted. We investigated the nutritional habits of competitive adolescent tennis players. Methods: Forty-five athletes (14F/31M, 15.7±1.7yrs) completed an online nutrition questionnaire investigating pre-, during, and post-match food and drink choices, and the primary decision maker and reasoning behind these choices. Results: The day before match play, 29% of athletes reported carbohydrate (CHO) dominant meals. Water (98%), sports drink (73%), granola or protein bar (42%), and banana (36%) consumption were the most reported fueling options during match play. For matches >2h, 64% of players reported consuming a sports beverage and 21% supplemented with other CHO food items. Regarding hydration strategy, 87% of players reported not having a targeted fluid consumption goal and 69% reported gauging their hydration intake during a match according to thirst. The day after a match, 38% of players reported returning to a normal diet. The majority of adolescent athletes (76%) reported themselves as the primary decision maker of food choices rather than the parent/guardian or coach. Availability (62%), rather than performance (38%), was the primary rationale behind food and drink choices. Conclusions: Findings show wide variation in eating and drinking habits in competitive adolescent tennis players pre-, during, and post-match-play, with an opportunity for improved sports nutrition application.
... One study assessed dietary intake and habits via a questionnaire. 26 One study used multiple methods to assess dietary intake, consisting of a 7-day food diary (FD), 24-h multiple pass recall and food photography. 25 Energy expenditure (EE) was quantified by three studies via accelerometery, predictive equations and metabolic equivalents (METS). ...
... One study also investigated the impact of creatine loading on tennis stroke performance. 33 Four of the studies analysed in this scoping review were published since 2018 23,25,26,35 ; four between 2013-2015 [27][28][29]32 ; four between 2006-2009, 4,24,30,34 one in 2001 33 and one in 1998. 31 ...
... 4,[23][24][25]27,28 One study assessed dietary habits pre, during and post-match play. 26 Yli-Piipari 23 reported carbohydrate intakes of 4.6 ± 1.0 g . kg.bm −1 in female NCAA Division 1 players. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives The primary objective of this scoping review was to examine existing evidence regarding the dietary intake and nutrition habits of elite and highly trained junior and young adult tennis players. Methods Systematic searches of MEDLINE, EBSCOHost and Scopus were undertaken from the earliest record to December 2021. Reference lists of articles selected were manually searched. A five-stage protocol informed by Arkey and O’Malley's framework with consideration for the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) methodology from scoping reviews was followed. Results The initial searches yielded an initial 145 records following the removal of duplicates. Following the screening process 14 articles were accepted for analyses. Three major themes were identified: (1) dietary intake and negative energy balance, (2) sub-optimal nutrient intake/habits, and (3) the use and impact of dietary supplements/ergogenic aids. Conclusion Research indicates sub-optimal nutritional practices amongst elite and highly trained junior and young adult tennis players. Particular concerns have emerged regarding insufficient calorie consumption to support performance, growth, and wellbeing.
... Çalışmamızda kadın ve erkek sporcuların önerilerin altında enerji ve protein almışlardır. Tenis oynayan sporcuların toplam enerji alımı çoğunlukla önerilen alım düzeylerinin altındadır (33,34). Tenisçilerde yeterli miktarda karbonhidrat alımları kas glikojen depolarını doldurması ve buna bağlı olarak dayanıklılık gereği performansın sürdürülebilmesini ve yorgunluk belirtilerinin geciktirilmesini sağlamaktadır (35,36). ...
... Yaptığımız bu çalışmada sporcuların diyeti düşük karbonhidrat (%34) ve yüksek yağ (%47) içermektedir. Başka bir çalışmada da benzer sonuçlarla genç tenisçilerin önerilenin altında karbonhidrat aldıkları saptanmıştır (33). Bu konuda tenisçilerde yapılan antrenmanların veya müsabakaların süresinin belirsiz olması sporcuların besin öğesi ihtiyaçlarını değiştirebileceğinden sporcular, bireysel olarak izlendikleri uygun bir beslenme programına ihtiyaç duymaktadır. ...
... As this is a pilot study, the a priori sample size calculation was not performed. We considered the amount of responders to be adequate in relation to the sample size of previous similar studies (Van Wyk and Lambert, 2009;Fleming et al., 2018;Field et al., 2021). The study was approved by the Lithuanian Sports University Ethics Committee [2020-05-19 NR. ...
... The results of the current survey should be interpreted with caution, as sample size is limited and uncertainties for comparisons of proportions are in some cases too large to draw confident conclusions. Indeed, the minimum number of participants to be recruited in the survey was set in accordance with previous research on the topic (Van Wyk and Lambert, 2009;Fleming et al., 2018;Field et al., 2021). However, the compatibility limits of proportions seem in some cases not adequate for comparison of proportions, thus suggesting a bigger sample size would be required. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to assess the perceived usefulness, actual use and barriers to the implementation of recovery strategies among basketball practitioners. 107 participants (strength and conditioning coaches, sport scientists, performance specialists) from different countries and competitive levels completed an online survey. Most participants rated recovery strategies as either extremely (46%) or very important (49%). Active recovery, massage, foam rolling, and stretching were perceived as most useful (80, 73, 72 and 59% of participants, respectively) and were most frequently adopted (68, 61, 72 and 67%, respectively). Participants mentioned lack of devices and facilities (51%), excessive cost (51%), lack of time (27%), players' negative perception (25%) and lack of sufficient evidence (16%) as barriers to the implementation of recovery strategies. The present findings reveal that some dissociation between scientific evidence and perceived effectiveness was present among the study participants. A possible solution would be to ensure that scientific evidence-based guidelines are followed when considering the application of recovery strategies. Regarding actual use, participants favored easily implementable strategies (e.g. active recovery, stretching), rather than evidence-supported, but expensive and/or impractical strategies (e.g. whole-body cryotherapy). Possible solutions may include the use of practical tools that don't need specific facilities, the development and validation of new low-cost recovery devices, the promotion of players education regarding recovery strategies, and conducting further research to increase the scientific knowledge in the area.
... There is limited research on tennis nutrition and the dietary practices of youth players (Coelho et al., 2013;Fleming et al., 2018;Juzwiak et al., 2008;Yli-Piipari, 2019). Eating habits are variable (Fleming et al., 2018), and carbohydrate intakes are below recommended values of 6-10 g . ...
... There is limited research on tennis nutrition and the dietary practices of youth players (Coelho et al., 2013;Fleming et al., 2018;Juzwiak et al., 2008;Yli-Piipari, 2019). Eating habits are variable (Fleming et al., 2018), and carbohydrate intakes are below recommended values of 6-10 g . kg -1 (Coelho et al., 2013;Hannon et al., 2020;Juzwiak et al., 2008;Yli-Piipari, 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
During a 7-day training and/or competition period, macronutrient intake and distribution was assessed using food diaries, supported by remote food photography and 24-hr multiple pass recalls of youth tennis players categorised by under 12s, under 14s and under 16+ age groups (n = 27). Total energy did not differ between age groups nor type of day (training [TD], competition day [CD]), irrespective of a significant increase in body mass reported in the older players (U16+; p < 0.05). Average intakes were consistently below 2250 kcal·day-1 (range 1965 ± 317–2232 ± 612 kcal·day-1). Carbohydrate consumption was below guidelines for all groups (≤6g·kg-1). Conversely, protein intake met or exceeded guidelines throughout, with intakes ≥2 g·kg-1 for both the U12 and U14 age groups on both days. Protein intake was ~17% higher on TDs than CDs (p < 0.05), with protein intake at lunch significantly higher on TDs than CDs (p < 0.05). No further differences were observed between breakfast, lunch or dinner between group or day. Inconsistent snacking was reported, with players consuming snacks on less than half of the days reported (46 ± 12% of TDs and 43 ± 30% of CDs). In conclusion, youth tennis players present sub-optimal nutrition practices, appearing to under fuel and under consume carbohydrate for performance, adaptation, recovery and health.
... Guadeloupe is a good example of a tropical environment, in which the ITF junior tournament in Saint-François takes place, which is in the Caribbean and has a relatively constant average temperature of 26°C with maximums of 34°C and a relative humidity around 80% . Playing tennis under such conditions involves managing the player's hydration status and drink intake (Fleming et al., 2018) given the combined effects of practice and heat stress that we will, now, approach. ...
Article
Full-text available
Il est primordial que les joueurs de tennis disposent d’un apport en boisson, approprié, régulier et suffisant. En effet, les athlètes consomment généralement beaucoup moins de liquide que les pertes induites par les mécanismes de thermorégulation (principalement par la sudation), causées par la combinaison de l’exercice physique et du stress lié à la chaleur, lorsqu’ils jouent en condition chaude. Cet article à pour objectif d’évoquer les mécanismes physiologiques et psychologiques impliqués dans la pratique du tennis, d’entrainement ou de compétition, en condition chaude sèche ou humide et de proposer des suggestions concernant l’utilisation des boissons chez les joueurs de tennis. Des recommandations appliquées, concernant l’hydratation pré- (avant), per- (pendant) et post- (après) exercice, sont apportées afin de permettre d’anticiper et de limiter les baisses de performances ainsi que de prévenir les risques de troubles physiologiques comme les crampes, l’épuisement précoce, les blessures voire les coups de chaleurs, ainsi que les atteintes psychologiques et motivationnelles causées par la déshydratation.
... Cold-water immersion (CWI) has consistently been reported as a popular choice for recovery among professional athletes [3,[5][6][7]. The use of CWI for recovery from exercise stems from its use in athletic settings, where ice application in the immediate treatment of acute soft-tissue injuries was often combined with rest, compression and elevation [8,9]. ...
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... 1,2 This may result in heat-related injury or/and decrease peak performance. 3,4 Physiological exertion in a long time duration and thermoregulatory condition may lead to impairments in performance. 5 Moreover, in the case of insufficient hydration, death may occur as a result of impaired cognitive functions, neurological dysfunction and aggravation of dehydration. ...
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Recent work has espoused the idea that within applied sporting environments, 'fast' working practitioners should work together with 'slow' working researchers. However, due to economical and logistical constraints, such a coupling may not always be practical. Therefore, alternative means of combining research and applied practice are needed. A particular methodology, which has been utilized in recent years, is qualitative research. Examples of qualitative methods include the use of online surveys, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. This article aims to discuss the merits of using qualitative methods to combine applied practice and research in sport science. This includes a discussion of recent examples of the use of such methods in published journal articles, a critique of the approaches employed, and future directions and recommendations. The authors encourage both practitioners and researchers to utilize and engage with qualitative research with the ultimate goal of benefitting athlete health and sporting performance.
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Background: Despite the high groin-injury (GI) prevalence in tennis, no studies have assessed the extent to which intrinsic groin injury risk factors, such as hip muscle strength, have recovered in elite tennis players with a history of previous GI. Objective: To investigate whether elite tennis players with a history of GI show differences in hip strength and jump height between injured and uninjured limbs and compared with dominant limb in tennis players without history of acute groin-injuries (NGI). Design: Cohort study. Participants: Sixty-one tennis players completed this study: 17 in the GI group and 44 in the NGI. Isometric adductor and abductor hip strength were assessed with a handheld dynamometer, and unilateral counter-movement jump tests were performed on a contact mat connected to an Ergo tester. Paired t-tests were conducted to identify differences between injured and non-injured limbs in the GI group, and independent measures t-tests were conducted to compare between GI and NGI groups. Results: Isometric adductor strength and adductor/abductor strength ratios were lower in the injured limb (16.4% and 20.1%, respectively) compared with uninjured side within the GI group, and lower than the dominant side in the NGI group. No significant differences were found for unilateral jump heights between sides in the GI, nor isometric abductor strength, when comparing GI to NGI groups. Conclusions: Isometric adductor weakness and adductor/abductor strength ratio deficits suggest that adductor muscle strength is not fully recovered in these athletes, potentially increasing their risk of a repeat groin injury.