Hydration on the Pickleball Court

What you drink on the pickleball court matters – Hydration.

Welcome new contributor Sandy Segien R.D.N. a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! Yes another new friend of mine that I met on the pickleball court. She loves pickleball and has lots of knowledge to share to keep us healthy and on the courts longer. Welcome Sandy!

Being a dietitian and a naturally curious person I am always looking in shoppers grocery carts, on peoples plates in restaurants and now in pickleball player’s ice chests just to see what everyone is eating and drinking. As a whole I am glad to be part of a group who is making healthy food choices, not so in the check out lines at my local grocery store.

I’d like to focus on the importance of hydration as we approach the warmer weather. It’s no secret sports drinks are a huge industry. Just look at the selections on the store shelves. It’s hard to keep up with all the choices. As George Carlin said better than me “When did everybody get so thirsty?”  But seriously keeping hydrated while playing on the courts is good for your health and good for your game. It delays fatigue, helps maintain mental acuity, optimizes ability to regulate body heat and improves recovery time.

Fruit infused waterFor play time up to 60 minutes plain water is fine.  Anytime longer than this or if you are a super sweater (you know who you are) or if the day is really hot you will need to replace lost electrolytes like sodium either in your drink or in your snacks. Choose salty foods. If you don’t love the flavor of plain water try adding citrus rind, cucumbers or herbs. I have been on a mint kick but thinking lemongrass for the summer. Try chunks of your favorite fruits then enjoy them as a snack when the water is gone.

If your play continues throughout the day such as a tournament setting you will need to restore your glycogen (fuel stored in the muscles used during play) by drinking sports drinks containing carbohydrates or drinking fluids consumed with carbohydrate rich foods. This helps to speed fuel to the muscles. Drinks that are too sweet like fruit juices and sodas can lead to intestinal cramping and an unplanned detour to the bathroom. Beverages high in caffeine can also increase the speed which food travels through you and can give you the jitters particularly if you are not a regular caffeine consumer.

Use your practice time on the courts to experiment with sports drinks and foods of different types to determine what works best for you. Don’t wait until the next tournament to test out the newest bottle on the shelf.

See you on the courts!

5 comments on “Hydration on the Pickleball Court”

  1. Hydration is a real problem for me, but during pickleball more than any other time. I sweat a LOT and I’m in good shape- I bike 20 miles about 4-5 times a week, moderately fast. However when I play I sweat so much I get lightheaded and sometimes have difficulty breathing. Help!!

  2. Just found you on a web search for help with hydration during my pickleball games. I am going to experiment with fruits and drink a lot.

  3. Great information. On tournament days, I have separate bottles that I drink from. One is plain water and the other is water into which I add a little bit of salt. I used to cramp badly by the semi-finals and with this new regimen, I didn’t. I’ve also heard that you need to eat a little when you drink to better absorb the fluids.

    Love your blog Jennifer. You do a lot for our sport and it’s much appreciated. Marian

    1. Hello Marian, thanks so much! Glad you are learning and loving pickleball. I too need salt – I sweat a lot (sometime not too pretty, ha ha) and I do make a point to have salt in my diet during tournament days – got to replenish!

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