Many of us have a love and love relationship with caffeine. The important question for tennis is does it improve our athletic performance? This post is not intended to describe whether caffeine is a beneficial performance enhancer. Hundreds of studies have shown the multitude of benefits and the International Society of Sports Nutrition has produced a very in-depth review and position stand on caffeine and athletic performance http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/5 . However, a study was just published this month in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research which could have direct implications for tennis. The study was looking at caffeine chewing gum and was interested in two questions:
1) Whether caffeinated gum provides benefits to athletes – specifically cyclists
2) What time points are most beneficial before exercise
The results of the study have some direct impact on the tennis athletes at any level. Firstly, it was shown that 300mg of caffeine in chewing gum taken within 5 minutes of exercise showed performance improvements in this cycling example. However, when the same caffeinated chewing gum was taken one hour and two hours before exercise no difference was seen compared to a placebo gum. This could be important for individuals looking to get the extra edge before the next big match. However, it is always important to understand the type of substance, supplement or other external agent that may be consumed. Many pills, supplements or gums/chews have multiple ingredients and it is important to understand how all these may interact. Remember that before taking any new substance, have someone with a medical or nutrition background provide guidance on the safety of the product.
Below is the abstract to the original study. Will you be trying caffeine gum?