Tennis Nutrition: Fuelling Up for Your Best Match Yet
By David Agrell
The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. The contents of this article are not intended to make health or nutrition claims about our products. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professional before beginning any physical fitness or health- and nutrition-related activity.
Whether you’re a seasoned tennis player looking to up your game or a newbie interested in the sport or similar games such as pickleball and padel, it’s essential to fuel your body properly before hitting the court. Proper nutrition can help you perform at your peak, regardless of your skill level, and boost your chances of acing that epic rally.
Tennis requires constant movement and quick bursts of energy, making it an excellent cardio workout. It’s also a fantastic way to build muscle strength and endurance while enhancing coordination and balance. Of course, all that puts intense demands on your body, so eating the right food before, during, and after playing is crucial.
What Should I Eat Before Playing Tennis?
Whether you’re training, playing a friendly match, or competing in a multi-day event, you’ll need to give your muscles ample energy by fueling up with carbohydrates before stepping onto the court.
A good pre-match snack is easily digestible and provides enough energy to sustain you on the court. Some good options include a banana with a handful of nuts, a turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread, a bowl of porridge with fruit and honey, or energy bars.
CLIF BAR energy* bars are a wholesome option because they deliver a delicious blend of plant-based protein, fat, and carbohydrates to help you prepare for those long sets. We recommend eating a CLIF BAR 1-2 hours before the match.
*Contains phosphorus which contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism.
What Should I Eat During a Tennis Match?
It’s important to stay fuelled up during your matches to maintain your power and energy on the court. Aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour if your match or training lasts more than two hours. CLIF BAR energy bars are again a good choice because they’re easy to carry and don’t require refrigeration. Other options for on-court snacks include fresh fruit like bananas or apples, or muesli mix. And for high-intensity sets lasting more than an hour, consider CLIF BLOKS Energy Chews. One packet (two servings) every hour of these simple, easy-to-chew carbohydrates, taken with some water, should help keep you in the game.
In addition to proper nutrition, hydration is crucial for power, endurance, and stroke precision. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your matches, especially if you’re playing in the heat. Keep fluids courtside and shoot for at least 8-12 millilitres every time you change ends.
What Should I Eat After Playing Tennis?
Following an intense day on the court, your muscles need nourishment to recover and revitalise. That’s why eating a meal with carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of your last match or training session is essential. Some good options include a meal of whole grain pasta or rice, grilled chicken or fish, roasted vegetables, or a snack of Greek yoghurt with fruit and granola.
What Are Pickleball and Padel?
If you’re looking for a new challenge or just want to mix up your workout routine, why not try pickleball or padel? If you’ve heard of these games with funny names but know little about them, we’re here to help.
Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It’s played on a smaller court with a lower net and uses a lightweight paddle and a plastic ball with holes. It’s an excellent alternative for those looking for a less physically intense option than tennis but still want a fun workout.
Padel, on the other hand, is similar to tennis but played on a smaller court, with walls around the perimeter that allow for some exciting shots and rallies. It’s often played in doubles and emphasises quick reflexes, strategy, and precision.
Both pickleball and padel provide a light, fun and social workout that can help improve your coordination, and balance. And if you’re craving a smaller snack while you ’re playing, CLIF BAR Minis are a great option as they’re easy to carry and taste great. They come in many of the same great flavours as CLIF BAR (such as Crunchy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip) but mini!
How Do I Get Started in Tennis?
Like pickleball and padel, tennis is more than just a great workout. It’s a way to meet new people and build relationships. Joining a local club will help you connect with others who share your passions, while taking lessons can be an excellent way to improve your skills while getting to know other players. If you’re new to the sport, be sure to check out the LTA — a Clif partner — for information on finding a place to play, coaching resources, equipment advice and more.
But even if you don’t have access to a club or lessons, you can still get out there and play. Grab a friend or family member and hit the courts. You’ll get not only a great workout but also a chance to create some lasting memories.