Want to improve your tennis game? Try a little Alka-Seltzer
Want to improve your tennis game, and perhaps some other athletic activities as well? A little Alka-Seltzer might do the trick, Taiwanese researchers reported Tuesday. Drinking some bicarbonate of soda before a match could improve performance by minimizing declines in accuracy caused by fatigue, researchers from the National Taiwan College of Physical Education reported in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Previous studies have suggested that sodium bicarbonate might improve performance in boxing and judo and, perhaps, cycling. The idea is that the accumulation of acidic hydrogen ions in the blood and muscles impairs muscle efficiency and neural transmissions. By neutralizing that accumulation, the bicarbonate might impede the development of fatigue.
Chen-Kang Chang from the college and his colleagues enlisted nine division 1 college tennis players for their study. The players took a standardized test of serving and forehand ground stroke skills before and after simulated tennis matches in which they hit balls ejected from a machine. In a randomized, blinded fashion, the players were given a drink containing either bicarbonate of soda or sodium chloride (placebo) before the matches. The researchers reported that the players' performance on the test declined significantly more when they were given sodium chloride than when they were given bicarbonate.
"We found that sodium bicarbonate supplementation can prevent the fatigue-induced decline in skilled tennis performance seen during matches," the team wrote. "The service and forehand ground stroke consistency was maintained after a simulated match in the bicarbonate trial. On the other hand, these consistency scores were decreased after the match in the placebo trial."
In a statement, Chang said, "To our knowledge, this is the first study to show the effect of bicarbonate supplementation on skilled performance in racquet sports. Future research may include other tennis skills such as volleys and drop shots with the measurement of stroke velocity and running speed."