Original research| Volume 21, ISSUE 3, P232-237, March 2018

Optimal cooling strategies for players in Australian Tennis Open conditions



      We compared the utility of four cooling interventions for reducing heat strain during simulated tennis match-play in an environment representative of the peak conditions possible at the Australian Open (45 °C, <10% RH, 475 W/m2 solar radiation).


      Nine trained males undertook four trials in a climate chamber, each time completing 4 sets of simulated match-play.


      During ITF-mandated breaks (90-s between odd-numbered games; 120-s between sets), either iced towels (ICE), an electric fan (FANdry), a fan with moisture applied to the skin (FANwet), or ad libitum 10 °C water ingestion only (CON) was administered. Rectal temperature (Tre), mean skin temperature (Tsk), heart rate (HR), thermal sensation (TS), perceived exertion (RPE) and whole body sweating (WBSR) were measured.


      After set 3, Tre was lower in ICE (38.2 ± 0.3 °C) compared to FANdry (38.7 ± 0.5 °C; p = 0.02) and CON (38.5 ± 0.5 °C; p = 0.05), while Tre in FANwet (38.2 ± 0.3 °C) was lower than FANdry (p = 0.05). End-exercise Tre was lower in ICE (38.1 ± 0.3 °C) and FANwet (38.2 ± 0.4 °C) than FANdry (38.9 ± 0.7 °C; p < 0.04) and CON (38.8 ± 0.5 °C; p < 0.04). Tsk for ICE (35.3 ± 0.8 °C) was lower than all conditions, and Tsk for FANwet (36.6 ± 1.1 °C) was lower than FANdry (38.1 ± 1.3 °C; p < 0.05). TS for ICE and FANwet were lower than CON and FANdry (p < 0.05). HR was suppressed in ICE and FANwet relative to CON and FANdry (p < 0.05). WBSR was greater in FANdry compared to FANwet (p < 0.01) and ICE (p < 0.001).


      Fan use must be used with skin wetting to be effective in hot/dry conditions. This strategy and the currently recommended ICE intervention both reduced Tre by ∼0.5–0.6 °C and Tsk by ∼1.0–1.5 °C while mitigating rises in HR and TS.


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