Hangovers and Squash Performance

1st February 2024

However dedicated you are to your squash and training, most people still like to partake in the occasional late-night social event! The morning-after consequences of a night of revelry can have a significant impact on your squash however – in this blog, we’ll delve into the effects of a hangover on sporting performance, and explore strategies to mitigate its detrimental impact.


The Physiology of a Hangover

Before we dive into the impact on sporting performance, it’s useful to briefly understand what happens in your body when you have a hangover. After consuming alcohol, your body goes through a series of processes, including the production of acetaldehyde, which is toxic and can cause nausea, dehydration, and headaches. These symptoms can severely hinder your athletic abilities.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and leads to dehydration. Dehydration can result in reduced muscle function, cramps, and an increased risk of injury during physical activity. Hangovers also impair cognitive function, and are notorious for causing brain fog, poor concentration, and impaired reaction time. These cognitive impairments can be especially problematic in sports that require quick decision-making and precision such as squash.

In addition, alcohol very often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to insufficient rest. Lack of proper sleep can decrease your endurance, making you feel more fatigued and sluggish during your on-court matches/training sessions. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can also lead to muscle weakness and cramping – this can affect your ability to move efficiently, perform explosive movements, and maintain good technique. Squash demands lots of quick movements and changes of direction – a hangover-induced lack of coordination and slower reaction times will severely impact these abilities.


Mitigating the Impact of Hangovers on Sporting Performance

While the best way to avoid hangover-related performance issues is to abstain from excessive alcohol consumption, there are strategies to minimize its effects if you find yourself in this predicament:

  • Hydrate: Prioritize rehydration with water, electrolyte-rich drinks, and sports drinks to replenish lost fluids and essential minerals.
  • Rest and Sleep: Whenever possible, take short naps to recharge and ensure you get as much sleep as possible to aid in recovery.
  • Nutrition: Consume balanced meals that include carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to provide your body with the energy it needs.
  • Avoid High-Intensity Workouts: If possible, opt for lighter, low-intensity workouts on days when you’re nursing a hangover to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Focus on relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation to alleviate stress and anxiety associated with hangovers.


Gary Nisbet

B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director

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