With the summer heat kicking into full gear, we asked Alex Lawson, a Sigrún ATP doubles player, for a few tips on the best ways to beat the heat and humidity, and really get the most out of yourself on court during these brutal months. Read on for his tips on beating the heat. Photography by Matt Calvis featuring Reese Stalder.
The Three Stages of Beating the Summer Heat (by Alex Lawson)
Life on tour has a lot of ebbs and flows over the course of the year. Different countries and court surfaces, tons of different weather conditions, so I’ve learned to get creative with ways to stay prepared for every match. The cool months of the indoor season are long gone as we get into the clay court and summer hard court swings, for me one of the biggest issues is always fighting sweat and staying dry. In this article I’ll give you a few ways you can stay ahead of your body’s sweat production, as well as managing it once it’s already at its worst.
I’ll give you some tips for the three main stages of competition in hot conditions so you can get the most out of your game when the weather is trying its best to slow you down.
The best way to beat the summer heat is to prepare for the summer heat. I'll try to sound a little less cliché as we go here, but the clichés are there for a reason... they're true. Everyone likes to think of themselves as one of those guys who can just show up without any preparation, just walk on to the court, and play like Roger no problem. Believe me, I was 16 once too, I know that seems like a really cool way to do it but it’s hard to look cool when you're being carried off court in the third set of your match because you're full body cramping. ANYWAY, the point is, staying prepared BEFORE the match is the best way to make sure you're ready for the heat. It's extremely important to hydrate the night before your match. Without plugging any specific electrolyte drink mixes, let me just say there are a lot of great ones out there and Gatorade is not one of them. Make sure the night before you're drinking a lot of water, but also getting enough electrolyte drink mix in you. Pedialyte is a great one (fine I plugged one).
During the match
The next most important phase is how you handle the heat during competition. This is especially huge if you're a big sweater, like me. Staying dry, especially in humid places like in the South or Midwest, is so important during those tough summer matches. One of the best ways, and also most obvious, is to bring a ton of changes of clothes on court with you. For one match I'll usually take three shirts, three pairs of tennis shorts, four changes of socks, and at least four wristbands. It may seem like a lot but you can never have too many. A great way to stock up and make sure you have enough to last you through the day while also not breaking the bank is with Sigrún’s Doubles Team Kit (15% off when adding multiple shirts and shorts). This is why you see your favorite pros taking an entire extra duffle bag on court with them. The key with all the changes of clothes is to keep changing before you're completely drenched with sweat. For me it’s also important to have my socks ready on the change-over before I want to actually change because that takes some time to do once you get going.
Another key during the match is to have a lot of that electrolyte mix on hand and even pre-mix a few bottles of it before the match starts. I’m no nutritionist but I have been told many times that it’s a good idea to have one bottle of electrolyte drink for every bottle of water you consume.
Lastly, let's talk a little bit about post-match. This is where things are going to get a bit wacky sounding. Again, if you sweat a lot this is really where you need to listen up. The post-match is going to encompass everything from pre-match (we're assuming you won your match and have another one tomorrow, congrats dude) and add a few more things.
I don't know what a not weird way to bring this up would be so I'll just say it; I sweat a lot, especially in my legs. This causes my shoes to get pretty wet after a summer match. Before you step away from the computer let me just say this is actually a pretty common thing on tour so I'm going to assume some of you out there also have similar issues.
The best way I have found to dry my shoes completely so that I'm not starting my match the next day with wet feet is to stuff them with newspaper and leave them overnight. Any section of the newspaper will do, just make sure you really stuff it in there tightly. I usually end up using about half a paper on each shoe. If you can't get access to a newspaper because you live in a town that has abandoned printed news for online news (sad) then stuffing them with towels can also work, just not quite as well. If you also don't have access to a towel, another thing I've had to resort to is using a blow dryer (yes, like for your hair) on them, leaving it to sit for ten or so minutes. These will help get your tennis shoes ready to go for the next day so you can get back out there and start off nice and dry and go at it all over again.