Pickleball Press: Sports Hydration

Nancy Dowell

Pickleball pro and instructor, Sarah Ansboury, permitted me to pass along her advice for playing pickleball in the heat. “Yesterday we went out to practice in the middle of the day. Needless to say, it was hot out there. Several of the players were struggling after just a few games. Some worried about cramping or heat stroke. Of course, treating either of these conditions means we have not prepared enough for the heat,” Sarah begins.

Prevention Is the Key

Don’t wait to see or feel symptoms to deal with the heat. Instead, be proactive to prevent dehydration. Hydration is so important. Drinking plenty of fluids on the court is not enough. Work on your hydration the day and night before playing. On the court, water is not enough. Sarah explains, “In fact, water alone can flush your system of needed electrolytes. Instead, alternate between water and your favorite sports drink. If you are concerned about calories, head to a local bike shop and ask the owner’s advice. Eating small amounts throughout a long day of play, like nuts and berries, are an easy way to get some nourishment quickly. Do not forget sunscreen and/or protective clothing. There are lots of good options today to cover our bodies. Between games, look for the shade and cool down.”

Too Much Heat

When feeling the effects of overheating, Sarah recommends placing some ice on the back of your neck and filling your hat with ice water. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you start to feel cold, get goosebumps, feel faint or start shaking, find some shade and cool down. Once you feel better, don’t head back onto the court. Instead, head home and take it easy.

Sarah adds, “We all want to play, but be careful. Hydrate before you play. Utilize a sports drink and snack when you play. And make sure you are safe in the sun and heat.” Follow Sarah’s pickleball blog at www.sarahansboury.com.

The USA Pickleball Association confirms Sarah’s advice, “Be sure to drink water, replenish electrolytes, and eat appropriate snacks. A balance of electrolytes and food is needed to prevent dehydration. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, fatigue, an irregular heartbeat, and fainting.”

It is likely 10 degrees hotter on the court than the air temperature. Do not be reluctant to ask for hydration breaks during games.

See you on the courts!