How to fuel up before your tennis match


I think of myself as someone who is very good shape, but I recently played a match in Mexico in 95 degree heat and high humidity. When I was finished, I’d consumed 64 ounces of water and was so sweaty that it looked like I’d just dunked myself in the ocean. Tennis can be an intense sport of quick starts and stops and matches can be long. Your game will be affected by how well you hydrate and fuel up before your match.

 Below are some basic rules for hydrating before and after a big match.

  1. Go juice: If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes, you need more than water to replenish sodium and potassium lost through sweat. The same fluid recommendations mentioned above apply to you: 17-20 ounces 2 hours prior to exercise; 7-10 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise and 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost post exercise. Look for sports drinks that contain at least 5 percent of carbohydrates, but no more than 10 percent. Do not drink fruit juices of soda, which can cause diarrhea and intestinal cramping. My favorite fluid is Gatorade, which contains about 6 percent of carb concentration and 110 grams of sodium per 8 ounces.

  2. Load up: Research shows that athletes exercising more than 90 minutes start to deplete their muscles’ energy stores. To boost energy level, make sure you consume about 2.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day. The most important energy source is glycogen, found in carbs. Before exercise your snack should be low fat, low fiber and contain protein and carbs. For instance, half a bagel with peanut butter, crackers with cream cheese or a banana . After a workout, choose foods that are high on the glycemic index, because they empty into the blood stream quickly and begin the process of rebuilding muscle energy stores. It takes about 24 hours for your muscles to recover after a heavy workout and eating high carb foods can help. The best foods: pastas, bananas, orange juice, peanut butter, dried fruit, pancakes, or bagels.

  3. Snack on the run: You’ll find that you hit a wall or bonk at some point when you begin to add distance or time onto your workout. For each person this will differ, depending on your energy stores and your metabolism. Follow the protocol above for eating before and after workouts to maintain your energy stores. You might also need to consume food on your run. I find it best to pick easy to digest, low-fiber foods that pack into my water belt or the pocket on my water bottle. I like animal crackers with peanut butter, mini energy bars and graham crackers. I suffer from a highly sensitive stomach and can not tolerate GU, but I know plenty of people who choose the pudding-like consistency energy supplement. The key is to try out several fuel sources prior to your race day. The best place for selection and variety is Sports Basement.

  4. Know your caloric needs: Go to and input your age, fitness level and weight. You can then calculate — based on your activity and speed at which you are working — your caloric expenditure for that activity. For instance, if you are running an average 10 minute mile for 90 minutes and you weigh about 130 pounds, you will burn 900 calories.

Jennifer Aquino is a running coach and fitness instructor. When she’s not chasing balls on the court, she’s running people through drills to help them improve their stamina. She teaches a Conditioning for Running Class on Wednesday nights through the City of San Mateo. She blogs at

Reach for a better game with these simple stretches


Stretching to me is like eating kale. I don’t like it, but I do it because I know it’s good for me. In tennis, stretching your upper body is very important, as typically players are plagued with shoulder and elbow injuries that can be alleviated or avoided with proper stretching.

Here are the stretching rules:

  • Before stretching you should always warm up. I suggest hitting the ball a bit, rotating your arms or jogging for at least five minutes, before stretching. Cold muscles will get pulled if you avoid this first step.
  • You should always hold your stretches for about 15 seconds per stretch before the start of an activity.
  • When you are done exercising, hold stretches for 30 seconds each.

This video best illustrates stretches to benefit your tennis game.

Jennifer Aquino is a running coach and fitness instructor. When she’s not chasing balls on the court, she’s running people through drills to help them improve their stamina. She teaches a Conditioning for Running Class on Wednesday nights through the City of San Mateo. She blogs at

Core balance for your tennis game


A client recently expressed frustration that although she does dozens of sit ups every night, she doesn’t feel like her core is any stronger. While sit ups are a good way to train your core, they actually aren’t the most effective or useful means for strengthening your ab muscles. We spend most of our time upright, either sitting or standing. That means we need to work our muscles in these positions.

This is especially true for tennis. Your core plays a crucial role in stabilizing your body so you can make the shot. Here are some basic exercises that replicate motions you make in tennis. They’ll strengthen both your core and your game.

Unknown-61.) Wood Chopper With medicine ball: Start with a low-weight ball (4-6 lbs) at first. Crouch down into a squat. Tuck your belly button into your spine, so you have a flat back. The ball should be touching the outside of your right foot. Swing the ball diagonally and up across your body until your arm is fully extended above your left shoulder. Bring the ball back to the starting position by reversing the motion. Move quickly and keep your core tucked in. Repeat 12 times on each side for up to 3 sets. When this becomes too easy, move to a heavier ball. The exercise is demonstrated here.

Unknown-72.) One legged squats: These not only strengthen your core, but your glutes. Stand on one leg with the opposite leg off the ground and straight in front of you. Squat back, keeping your core tucked in tight, your back flat and your knee over your ankle bone. Press back into the squat until your leg is parallel with the ground or to the point of tension. Come out of the squat by pushing up through your heel. Maintain your balance with a steady core and make sure your hips are even. It’s best to do this in front of a mirror so you can check your form. It should look like this.

3.) Lunge with knee lift: This is a great way to strengthen your core and legs. Start in a standing position. Step forward with one leg and bend your front knee, keeping it over your ankle bone. Your belly should be tucked in tight so there’s no sway in your lower back. Push your weight onto your front foot as you raise your back knee up and toward your belly button. Then step forward with the raised leg. Repeat for a count of 18. Rest and repeat. If these become too easy, add weight. The move is demonstrated here.Unknown-8

 Jennifer Aquino is a fitness instructor. When she’s not chasing balls on the court, she’s running people through drills to improve their stamina. She teaches a Conditioning for Runners class through the City of San Mateo. She blogs at

Four drills to improve your footwork


As a child my dad used to run me through countless footwork drills that I dreaded. It wasn’t until I started running trails and playing tennis as an adult that I understood how important quick feet are to being able to navigate tricky terrain and get to a ball that seems impossibly out of reach.

Below are some quick drills you can do to improve your footwork. Use them as warms up before a big match or practice them on your own several times a week.

Unknown-11.) Agility ladder: There are literally 100s of ways to do ladder drills. In my favorite drill, shown in this video, you start at one end of the ladder, bounce on the ball of your left foot into the first square. Bring your right foot to meet your left in the first. Then step quickly into the next square. Repeat this motion to the end of the ladder. Jog to the start point and repeat. You want to go as quickly as you can and stay on the balls of your feet.

2.) Hopping: This is a bit like the childhood game of Hopscotch. Pick a line at least 10 feet long. Stand on one leg and hop back and forth across the line moving from one end to the other. Once you get to the end of the line, turn around, switch feet and go back the direction from which you came. This video shows it done with an agility ladder.

Unknown-23.) Liners: This one will take you back to your gym days, but it stands as one of my favorite ways to increase cardio capacity and work your lateral muscles, which are heavily used in tennis. It’s easy to do these on a tennis or basketball court. Start facing the net. Crouch down into a squat with your back flat and your hand touching the double’s line. Quickly shuffle your feet to the single’s line, then back to the double’s line. Repeat this for each line on the court, returning to the double’s line after touching each. You should move quickly, stay lateral and be breathless when you are done.

4.) Diagonal run: Start at the center of the service line. Back pedal as fast as you can diagonally to the double’s line. Sprint to the start. Now back pedal diagonally to the opposite double’s line. Sprint back to the serviceline. Repeat for 1 minute. This guy illustrates it here.

Jennifer Aquino is a running coach and fitness instructor. When she’s not chasing balls on the court, she’s running people through drills to help them improve their stamina. She teaches a Conditioning for Running Class on Wednesday nights through the City of San Mateo. She blogs at