Every athlete seeks to develop a set of strategies that will offer them an advantage over their competition. Tonights final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be no different, with each player utilising key strategies to gain an upper hand over their competitor. This being so, I decided to explore what forms of supplementation could lead to improved tennis performance.
In a recent study, researchers from The Sports Science Research Institute in Taiwan evaluated the effect sodium bicarbonate supplementation can have on skilled tennis performance (Wu, Shih, Yang, Huang & Chang, 2010). In this study, participants (nine male college tennis players) consumed sodium bicarbonate (o.3 g/Kg body mass) or placebo before a stimulated match, and an additional 0.1 g/Kg body mass of sodium bicarbonate following the third game. The results showed that service and forehand ground stroke consistency scores declined significantly after the stimulated match in the placebo group, yet, remained unchanged in the bicarbonate group. It is well understood that the accumulative effects of repetitive, short term, high intensity efforts, throughout prolonged tennis matches, can result in significant neuromuscular fatigue (Wu, Shih, Yang, Huang & Chang, 2010). It is also reported that sodium bicarbonate supplementation can buffer increases in lactate, a major cause of post-exercise neuromuscular fatigue (Wu, Shih, Yang, Huang & Chang, 2010). The results of this study indicate that sodium bicarbonate supplementation may increase performance by way of buffering the production of lactate, in intermittent high intensity exercise.
Wu, C., Shih, M., Yang, C., Huang M & Chang, C. 2010. Sodium bicarbonate supplementation prevents skilled tennis performance decline after a stimulated match. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7, 33-41.