While eating several hours before a match does not always allow you to perform optimally, it is also true that eating too soon before a match can have some unpleasant consequences, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and loss of strength.
When taken together, these factors can have a devastating effect on your ability to perform on the court.
Often the brain is adversely affected by the fact that you are still digesting large amounts of food, it and can make your thought processes slow down.
The interval between a main meal and the start of a match, therefore, must be at least two hours.
For some people this period should be even greater, and if your match is delayed you will end up with more time after your last meal and the start of your match.
You also must pay close attention to what you are eating, including the quality of the food.
Certain foods lay too heavy in the stomach before a match, and must always be avoided.
These items include sausages (though dried beef and some ham is acceptable) and other fatty meats.
If you play in the morning, you should avoid a heavy breakfast and coffee.
Most of this should already be known to most tennis players, but something that is often overlooked is that the meal before a match should contain carbohydrates that are absorbed very quickly, such as rice, potatoes, bread and pasta.
Critically though, you must not eat too many of these carbs.
They raise your blood sugar, but can also lower blood glucose levels if too much is eaten.
The lowering of blood glucose levels can lead to fatigue and reduced lucidity, certainly not compatible with efficiency on the court.
Therefore always remember: carbs are important, but only eat a few dozen grams before a match.
So do not eat too much bread or potatoes, and avoid desserts and soft drinks.
While you are waiting for your match to begin, especially if it is a long wait, drink lots of water (more so if it’s hot) and take one carbohydrate tablet every 20-30 minutes.
Ideally it should also contain minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium.
You may also want to resort to sports drinks or snacks like granola bars, the latter of which can give you a boost of fewer than 100 calories when you are waiting for a long time.
Some believe that a little wine or a shot of bitters helps the player digest or play better.
But actually, alcohol does not improve performance and should be avoided altogether, especially from the night before the match.
Matches generally take place in hot and humid conditions, and since alcohol can lead to impaired regulation of body temperature, it is not ideal to drink alcohol when you plan on playing a match.
The ideal drink before a match is good old water.
Here is a summary of what to keep in mind before a match:
A) Do not be on the court while you are digesting. You should wait at least two hours between the end of lunch (or breakfast) and going on court. Foods that should be avoided are “heavy,” fatty foods like fried items and fatty meats.
B) It’s better not to consume alcohol (even a glass of wine) before a match, especially if the weather is warm and humid. Water is the best bet before a match.
C) It is a mistake to eat too many carbohydrates, such as rice, potatoes and bread, before a match. You should limit them to a few dozen grams a meal.
D) If the match is in the morning, do not drink coffee.