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In-Play Cooling Interventions for Simulated Match-Play Tennis in Hot/Humid Conditions


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 5 - p 991–998
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001183
Applied Sciences

Purpose This study aimed to assess the efficacy of different in-play cooling strategies for mitigating heat strain during simulated tennis match-play activity in a hot/humid environment representing the most extreme conditions during the US Open (36°C, 50% relative humidity).

Methods On three occasions, nine males completed an intermittent treadmill protocol with an exercise intensity and activity profile simulating a four-set tennis match, with 90-s breaks between odd-numbered games and 120-s breaks between sets, according to International Tennis Federation rules. During breaks, 1) the currently used cooling strategy—an ice-filled damp towel around the neck and a cold-damp towel on the head and thighs (ICE); 2) wetting of arms, neck, face, and lower legs with a sponge in front of an electric fan (FANwet); or 3) no cooling (CON) were applied. Rectal (T re) and mean skin (T sk) temperature and HR were measured throughout. Thermal sensation and RPE were assessed during breaks. Trials were terminated upon reaching a T re ≥ 39.5°C or volitional exhaustion.

Results Seven, five, and one participant completed FANwet, ICE, and CON, respectively. By end set 1, ΔT re was lower in FANwet (0.92°C ± 0.15°C) compared with CON (1.09°C ± 0.09°C, P = 0.01), and by end set 2, ΔT re was lower (P < 0.001) in FANwet (1.55°C ± 0.23°C) and ICE (1.59°C ± 0.17°C) compared with CON (1.99°C ± 0.19°C). Mean RPE (FANwet = 13.9 ± 2.2, ICE = 13.6 ± 1.8, CON = 16.6 ± 1.8), HR (FANwet = 163 ± 21, ICE 164 ± 22, CON = 175 ± 19 bpm), T sk (FANwet = 36.56°C ± 0.69°C, ICE 36.12°C ± 0.44°C, CON = 37.21°C ± 0.42°C), and thermal sensation were lower in FANwet and ICE (P < 0.05) compared with CON by end set 2.

Conclusions The currently recommended ICE strategy successfully mitigates thermal strain during simulated tennis match play in hot/humid conditions. The FANwet intervention is an equally effective alternative that may be more practical in limited resource settings.

1Technical University of Munich, Institute of Ergonomics, Garching, GERMANY; 2Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory, Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA; 3Medical Department, Koninklijke Nederlandse Lawn Tennis, Amersfoort, THE NETHERLANDS; and 4Athlete Health and Performance Research Centre, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, QATAR

Address for correspondence: Ollie Jay, Ph.D., Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory, Exercise and Sports Science, University of Sydney, 75 East St., Lidcombe, NSW 2141, Australia; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2016.

Accepted for publication December 2016.

© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine