Former world tennis champion Andy Murray is used to playing tennis in extreme conditions – temperatures at the Australian Open regularly reach the high 30s and even in the UK, Wimbledon has recorded an all time high of 35.1 degrees. With an ongoing heatwave, how can British tennis players continue on court? We asked Andy for his top tips on staying safe in the sun.
Train When The Sun Comes Up
"When I lived in Spain, we were used to playing tennis when it was hot, but we did try to schedule our training times to avoid the heat of the day," Andy explains. Playing in the morning or early evening is much more comfortable and you'll be able to play for longer."
Staying hydrated is absolutely essential for Andy. "When I was younger, I used to struggle with cramps, which can be a sign of dehydration or that your body is lacking electrolytes which you lose through sweat.
I’ve learned how to manage cramps over the years and now use HALO Hydration when I’m training or playing matches. If it’s a particularly hot day, I'll add a powder stick sachet to my water bottle before I start playing, drink another during my tennis, and then I’ll have one later in the day to ensure I'm fully rehydrated.
It’s important not to wait until you feel thirsty but rather keep drinking at regular intervals throughout the day. Also, try to keep your drinks cool as cold drinks are absorbed quicker by the body and are also much more refreshing!"
Watch What You Wear
According to Andy, lightweight clothing will help keep you cool and breathable fabrics are good for wicking sweat away from your body. "Many people are surprised to know that I played in an outfit made partly from merino wool at this year’s Wimbledon but because it’s a natural fibre and worked really well at keeping me cool. There's also a reason players wear white at Wimbledon – lighter colours reflect the heat, whereas darker colours absorb heat."
Keep The Sun Out of Your Eyes
"I always wear a hat whether I’m in a match or at training," Andy says. "It keeps the sun off your head and the light out of your eyes when you're serving or hitting a high ball. Sweat bands or towels are also good for mopping your brow if you sweat a lot."
Screen The Sun
Andy stresses the importance of applying sunscreen: "Sunscreen is something I use every day – my fair skin needs protecting! I use factor 50 and make sure I’m careful about applying to places like the tips of ears and back of the neck which easily catch the sun."
Take Your Time
It's surprising how much walking you do around the court between points and picking up balls. You can really feel those extra steps if it’s a hot day. Andy suggests slowing your pace (i.e., walk instead of run) to pick up balls around the court. He also recommends taking the 90 seconds or two minutes between games to sit down, catch your breath and have a cool drink.
"If you're able to sit in the shade or put a wet towel on your neck, that's even better," says Andy. "And perhaps if you're playing a friendly match, you can agree with your opponent to extend that time a bit longer to make sure you both last the distance!"
Adapt Your Game
On hot days, playing long rallies at the baseline will quickly wear you out. If you're able to adapt your game, try serving and volleying more to cut down the length of points, go for the winners and maintain your energy levels that little bit longer!
Surfaces Can Make a Difference
"I find that the coolest surface to play on is grass, so if you have access to a grass court, opt for that," Andy suggests. "Hard courts reflect the heat, so can feel very warm if it’s a hot day."
Put Your Health First
Make sure to take it slowly if you're playing tennis for the first time in a while, especially if it’s a hot day. If you're feeling unwell at all, stop playing and check with a medical professional.