Summer will be here before we know it, which is why it is SO important to be prepared for the heat on the courts because the threat of heat exhaustion is dangerously real. Aside from the playing conditions on the courts (hard courts) being 10 – 15 degrees hotter than the actual air temperature, any humidity will make it seem even hotter than that!
All tennis players need to check out the following chart by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and be aware of the heat index and how unsafe conditions can be on certain days.
I can take the heat and always offer to play the second line in league, so my matches typically start at 10:30 am and end anywhere between 12 noon and 1 pm. At that time, the Houston summer temp is in the mid-90’s, and when you factor in a 50-ish% humidity and the additional heat rising from the court’s surface, it easily feels like 106+ degrees, and the risk of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke is pretty high.
The most common signs of heat exhaustion:
- Feeling faint
- Body chills
- Muscle cramps
- Pale/clammy skin
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stop playing immediately and find shade (preferably indoors with air conditioning)
- Drink plenty of cold water (avoid soda)
- Cool yourself with a fan, an ice towel around your neck, or a cool shower. You can also apply ice packs or ice wrapped in towels to areas where large arteries are closest to the skin like the upper inner thigh and neck which will cool down your blood as it works its way through your body.
- Remove any layers or tight clothing
- Avoid any hot weather activity for at least a week to fully recover
If you don’t feel any improvement within 30 minutes or if symptoms get worse, seek immediate help or call 911 because you may be suffering from heat stroke, a severe heat-related injury that can cause major organ damage.
We encourage everyone to get out and play as much tennis as humanly possible on those beautiful summer days, but be smart, check the heat index and with the exception of league matches that have specific starting times, plan your matches/practices accordingly. And if you feel like you may be having a heat stroke, just stop and forfeit your match. No match is worth ending up in the hospital – or worse!
Please SHARE this with your teammates and anyone who plays outdoor sports.