Optimal cooling strategies for players in Australian Tennis Open conditions

J Sci Med Sport. 2018 Mar;21(3):232-237. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2017.05.017. Epub 2017 May 25.


Objectives: 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, 475W/m2 solar radiation).

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

Methods: 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.

Results: 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).

Conclusions: 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.

Keywords: Core temperature; Heat balance; Heat exchange; Sweating.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Heat Stress Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Skin Temperature / physiology
  • Tennis / physiology*