Playing in the Heat

heatToday was my first day back on the tennis court in sunny, hot and humid Florida weather. Last year I came down “in shape”; but the extreme humidity still sapped all my strength. So what to do?

I came off the court feeling good about my dealing with the weather (and my tennis after a summer of being Bob Wilkie’s punching bag five days a week). So, here is what I did and seems like a good prescription for handling the heat…

Before You Play

• Be sure to fully hydrate even before you get on the court.
• Put on sun block
• Wear Dri-Fit shirts in a light color

While You Play

• Drink on every changeover
• Pace yourself
• Get a younger partner and say “Yours” a lot! (Mine was 58-year old Kim Olsen, who runs very well)
• Eat a banana
• Take some form of electrolytes in liquid or pill form (mine is the Meda-Lyte pills that Larry Starr makes available at Newk’s)
• If you have one, use a “cooling towel” around your neck on changeovers

After You Play

• Drink more water and electrolyte drinks
• Jump in the pool!

What other tricks are out there?

Know someone who should read this? Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at

My Book: and if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page.

9 thoughts on “Playing in the Heat

  1. I especially hate the humidity. I can play in 110 degrees if it is dry, but 85 degrees with full humidity kills me. As a result, I have devised the following 10 point strategy for playing in hot and humid weather:

    1). Never, ever, ever, ever play anywhere in Florida. Except between January 1 and March 15, and even then probably not.

    2). Avoid all play anywhere south of the Canadian border in August.

    3). Always wear light colors. Never wear underwear. Always wear a hat. Always wear sunglasses. Always wear a wrist absorber. Bring a towel onto the court and use it constantly.

    4). Slow everything down. Talk a lot with your opponent incessantly on changeovers. Crack a lot of jokes. Ask your opponent for investment advice in between points. Direct his attention to interesting birds in the sky, even if they are not there. Preset your cell phone so the ringer goes off at least 3 times every set, and then have an imaginary conversation with a client, patient, family member, etc. that takes at least 3 minutes each time. Take a lot of bathroom breaks. Walk slowly between points. Just before every point, turn your back to your opponent and bounce on your toes for at least 10 seconds a la Sharapova. When serving, drop your toss without swinging a lot (always remembering to say “Sorry,” with sincerity, of course.) Bounce the ball at least 13 times before each service swing. Occasionally bounce the ball off your toe so you have to go retrieve the ball and start all over. When receiving, hold up your hand to say you are “not ready” a lot (always remembering to say “Play two” with sincerity, of course.) Use your towel to wipe off your sunglasses and your racquet grip a lot. Take at least a 10 minute break between sets. Go ahead and take a cool shower between each set if you feel like it.

    5). Drink tons of cool water before and throughout the match. Intersperse the water with something like Pedialyte or low cal Gatorade to restore electrolytes. The ratio should not be greater than 1 part electrolyte replenisher to 3 parts water.

    6). Change your light colored Dry Fit shirt at least once a set — even more frequently if you need to.

    7). Change your socks when they get slushy from the sweat. Change your tennis shoes if the sweat from the socks has caused them to become soggy too.

    8). Make sure your identification, a major credit card, and your health insurance card are within easy reach in case the worst happens and they cart you away in an ambulance.

    9). Pray a lot. Alternatively, spit a lot. It does nothing at all, but you get to walk slowly to and from the fence each time you do so.

    10). When in doubt, go to the living room in a well air conditioned location, pop open a brewsky, and watch the Tennis Channel instead of playing.

    Marty, you would be a lot of fun to play!!! george

  2. I like it all except for the banana advice…in the extreme heat and while your exhausting yourself there’s no need to eat…you’re actually taxing your body more.

    There are now many ultra endurance athletes (100 mile race, triathlon etc) that literally take a tablespoon of peanut butter or coconut oil as their “food intake” and keeps them going for hours at a time….. Just 5 years ago the m.o was to eat fast moving carbs like a banana or goo, sugar gel etc….

    If you are hydrated going out there….and you stay hydrated….there should be no reason eat….until you come home and enjoy your beer and nuts 🙂

    Marc, you da food maven! thanks, george

  3. Aw geez…you’re already back in Florida!!
    There goes my advantage on our Oct. 30 game!

    Spike, you’ve had the whole summer! George

  4. OK. You all need to try this. Put 2 teaspoons of Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar in you water bottle. Great for anti cramping
    Also is a natural anti inflammatory and promotes digestion. Google it and read the analysis.

    Bill, you are The King of the New Thing! Thanks, George

  5. George I was surprised that you did not mention wearing a hat and not a visor when playing in the heat. The old adage is: heat enters the body through the top of the head. I always wore a hat when playing matches in the extreme heat and sun.

    Phyllis, i just assumed most people were smart enough to wear a hat! But now that you bring it up, a big, floppy hat would be even better! thanks, george

  6. Drink pickle juice, quinine water, and have mustard packs in your bags. Just coming back from meniscus surgery in middle of July and 6 weeks of physical therapy. Looking to hit the ball and get my timing back, anyone around North Naples (Huntington Lakes) please contact me.

    John,I am a pickle juice believer! Hope you come back strong. thanks, george

  7. Recent research has shown that cooling your body down PRIOR to playing in heat has great benefit. This can be down both externally and internally via cold baths and cold water or sport drink.

    George – glad the Medi-Lytes are helpful.

    Larry, that is a very interesting concept. I had been driving to matches with my air conditioning off trying get used to the heat; maybe I should be doing just a reverse! Thanks, George

  8. Thank you Larry!
    I’ve been using cold therapy combined with infrared sauna and Larry is right , the cooling off your body prior to exercise is enormous. TRY IT. (I do it before my soccer games)
    Interestingly the latest research I’ve been following shows that you don’t have to go extreme cold as in ice baths or anything. I think 70 degree brings about the desired benefits.
    Larry can you confirm that?
    Thank you for all your amazing sharing of information Larry.

Comments are closed.